I used to have fun making fake covers for the Criterion Collection years ago, looking over hundreds of posters and trying to re-design them, but when it came to choosing 38 posters to decorate my room, it was the hardest task of choosing, how can one chose among hundreds of favorite films, only 38 posters?
It took me almost two week to decide upon the 38 posters, and among those 38, there was one film that had no poster to be found for, that was Boris Barnet’s By the Bluest of Seas (1936), one of my top ten favorite film. I shouldn’t say that there no poster for the film, there is a terrible design for its Russian dvd release in low quality. The reason that one can hardly find a poster from a Boris Barnet film is because Barnet is among the forgotten masters of the Soviet cinema, only two of his films have been released on DVD, Outskirts and The Girl with the Hatbox, and rarely any of his film were ever released in the theater as of recent . After a long search and no luck at finding a poster, I decided to make my own design, copying the criterion cover for Ozu’s Late Spring.
The reason I had to have a poster of By the Bluest of Seas is because it is film that one never get tired of watching it, I’m simply in love with the film, it almost has a magical power over the viewer in recalling its rich images days, weeks, month, even years after the first encounter with it, that power is best explored in this short essay by Nicole Brenez (short video below).
A film that is rich in imagery, lyricism, poetry, beauty, conflict and lovable characters in a triangular love affair is best to have a poster that express all that, so it was no surprise to chose a similar design to that of Late Spring.
The lyricism is the ocean, always in the move, once I tried to count the shots of the Sea in the film, from the opening shot onward, I gave up after counting to 52, that is how much the Sea is present in the film, the sea is the face of the film, and the wave cover the upper half of the poster.
What is poetry? Word in space. What is cinematic poetry? Image in time. The lower half of the poster is image in time as it is captured from the film.
Between the love of Mariya and Alyosha is not only Yussuf, but also her fiance solider, whom we hear about but never see, she reject both Alyosha and Yussuf for a solider far away on a mission.
The conflict in the film, unattainable love with barriers between the lovers. What is best to describe that, than split the image of Mariya and Alyosha, and in between, the conflicting imagery.
The choices were by directors, rather than choosing their best film, I choice my favorite film, take Francois Truffaut, his best work is no doubt, The 400 Blows, but my favorite film from Truffaut is La chambre verte. Some directors got more than one film, Godard and Ozu each got two. Some didn’t make the list due mostly for not being able to find a higher resolution images of the films that I wanted to print, not to mention that I only had 38 poster to chose from. Almost every single one of them is being fixed some way or another in Photoshop, some text have been added to few of the posters.
On the Wall. Size of each is 70 cm by 45 cm:
True Heart Susie (D.W. Griffith, 1919)
Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty, 1921
The General (Buster Keaton), 1927)
Sunrise (F.W. Murnau, 1927)
The Crowd (King Vidor, 1928)
City Lights (Charles Chaplin, 1931)
The Man I Killed (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932)
The Only Son (Yasujiro Ozu, 1936)
There Was A Father (Yasujiro Ozu, 1942)
By the Bluest of Seas (Boris Barnet, 1936)
Germany Year Zero (Roberto Rossellini, 1947)
The Bicycle Thief (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)
Good Sam (Leo McCarey, 1948)
The River (Jean Renoir, 1951)
The Big Sky (Howard Hawks, 1952)
The Big Heat (Fritz Lang, 1953)
Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
Ordet (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1955)
A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 1956)
Seven Men from Now (Budd Boetticher, 1956)
Night Of The Demon (Jacques Tourneur, 1957)
Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
L’avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1959)
Nazarin (Luis Bunuel, 1959)
Accatone (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1961)
8 1/2 (Fedrico Fellini, 1963)
Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)
Kes (Ken Loach, 1969)
Punishment Park (Peter Watkins, 1970)
Fat City (John Huston, 1972)
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Sam Peckinpah, 1974)
Dersu Uzala (Akira Kurosawa, 1974)
La chambre verte (Francois Truffaut, 1978)
Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
Close-up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)
The following two: 100 cm by 70 cm:
Pierrot Le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)
Yol (Yilmaz Guney, 1981)
Many lyrical images from from By the Bluest of the Seas couldn’t make the final poster, nor did many of my favorite posters made it to my wall. Below are the images and the poster that were left out: