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British Film Posters: An Illustrated History Paperback – 6 Dec 2006
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From the Back Cover
British Film Posters, the first complete history of British film posters ever published, covers every aspect of design, printing, and display, and includes detailed biographies of all the major artists. The book explores illustrated film posters from their emergence in the late Victorian period as an offshoot of the variety/theatrical posters of the period, to the rapid decline of the illustrated, or handpainted, tradition in the mid-1980s, and to the subsequent arrival of computer desktop publishing. The overall theme of the book is that vintage film posters represent a significant and coherent movement in British popular art of the twentieth century, which has until now been overlooked and undocumented.
About the Author
SIM BRANAGHAN is an information librarian
STEPHEN CHIBNALL is Professor of British Cinema at De Montfort University
Top customer reviews
Firstly, it is crammed with pages and pages of full colour pictures of literally hundreds of film posters throughout the ages. All the classics are in there, but also many that you probably won't recognise, but are extremely interesting to look at.
Secondly, the author has researched this book brilliantly and thoroughly. It traces and pictures film advertising from the very beginning when posters looked more like those retro Coke adverts than what we know today.
The emphasis here is on the British painted posters and their domination of the film poster market in their hay day, but then later traces its decline: Did you know that License To Kill was one of the last EVER painted film posters? You do now.
A great book for casual film fans or enthusiasts, but perhaps seven or eight pounds too expensive to be essential, so it loses a star for that.
I had almost bought this book when it came out, and now found that I had to go via eBay to satisfy my curiosity about an area that, like nearly everybody else, I had appreciated but taken for granted: the posters for the Carry Ons and other British comedy films. Who had painted them? Sure enough, this book answered the question.
The author may not thank me for suggesting that he has `done a Denis Gifford'. What the late writer did for the appreciation of older children's comics, Branaghan has reiterated for illustrated film advertising: he has taken a low-key `genre' of enthusiasm and documented its history which he has more or less had to hunt down for himself.
The industry is (was) populated by individuals, mainly men, many of whom surely saw themselves as ordinary blokes, working for ordinary companies, agencies and studios - except that the nature of their output demanded a high degree of excellence and professionalism: it would be no good painting a full close-up of Charles Bronson, say, if it didn't look unmistakeably like him.
Because the text is data-heavy - sometimes a chronological account of who-did-what and who-went where - this doesn't necessarily make the book easy to read (although I personally found it hard to put down); and since each section needs to run chronologically, the reader finds himself being dobbed back and forth, somewhat.
The same is true for the reproduced posters, although this perhaps adds to the interest. A born neurotic, I listed my top ten posters initially - with subject matter as far-flung as Ronald Searle's excellent St Trinian's and `Nightmare on Elm Street', but found that I appreciated other posters as I learned what had gone into them.
5 out of 5 for a celebration of low-profile artisans who could nonetheless draw and paint a bit - quite a bit, actually.
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