Exhibition tip: Great cinema - film posters of all times

by Eyes & Ears of Europe

For as long as there has been cinema, posters have been central players in the communication of film: they bring cinema to the streets and arouse emotions on a grand scale. The exhibition "Great Cinema" presents 300 original film posters from the 1900s to the 2020s from the graphic design collection of the Kunstbibliothek am Kulturforum. Contemporary guests from the world of film are involved in a curatorial capacity. 

Graphic short formula

A cinema film needs a poster - even in digital times, it is the most important medium of visual communication. Because a good film poster is advertising and art at the same time: it condenses the plot of the film into a single concise image, captures the atmosphere and introduces protagonists. It arouses curiosity without revealing too much. In short: here film is translated into graphics, along with all the emotions of "big cinema". Film posters make you marvel, smile or frown, they stir up tension, memory, excitement or admiration.

... of all times

Around 1900, shortly after the invention of the cinematograph, the first film posters were used in urban spaces. In around 300 exhibits, the exhibition traces a history of the film poster from 1905 to the present day: from narrative and expressionist lithographs in silent cinema to the world-famous modern graphics for New Film Art and Atlas in the 1960s to current design between paper and pixel. Besides German posters, France, the USA, Poland and other countries are represented. The spectrum spans twelve decades - in the truest sense of the word: film posters of all times!

Professionals and celebrities

What makes a good film poster is very much in the eye of the beholder. It has to do with taste, and with personal experience. The exhibition "Great Cinema" is therefore curated collaboratively: 26 people from the film and cinema industry helped to select the exhibits from the approximately 5000 film posters in the graphic design collection. Guests from the fields of acting, directing, cinema business, film studies, art and graphic design, nominated together with the Berlinale management, were each invited to choose a favourite poster. They will explain their selection to visitors in an audio guide.

Participants are: Anna Berkenbusch, Christian Bräuer, Carlo Chatrian, Adrian Curry, Thea Ehre, Maryna Er Gorbach, Liv Lisa Fries, Maria Fuchs, Douglas Gordon, Graf Haufen, Ella Lee, Natalie MacMahon, Vasilis Marmatakis, Lemohang Mosese, Maximilian Mundt, Elfi Mikesch, Helke Misselwitz, Ulrike Ottinger, Asli Özge, Kida Khodr Ramadan, Mariette Rissenbeek, Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss, Albrecht Schuch, Simon Spiegel, Verena von Stackelberg and Jasmin Tabatabai.

Arthouse to blockbuster

The selection of 26 guests includes classics such as "The Golem" and cult films like "Rocky Horror Picture Show" or "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" as well as works by Isolde Baumgart, Helmut Brade, Dorothea Fischer-Nosbisch, Hans Hillmann and other outstanding poster designers. The chronology of film posters includes blockbusters such as "Jaws", "Star Wars" or "Lord of the Rings" as well as posters for arthouse and independent films from Neorealismo to New Hollywood to Pedro Almodovar. The superstar among the exhibits is "Metropolis", a large format (2.20 x 3 m) designed by Boris Bilinsky in 1927, of which probably only this one copy is preserved in a museum. The tour ends with fan art, hand-painted large posters by Götz Valien and a look at today's collecting strategies.

Opening credits and children's stations

The moving image is not missing from the exhibition either: an integrated "opening credits cinema" shows film intros and title sequences that enter into a creative dialogue with posters. For children, it's "Follow Paula Popcorn!": The mascot leads the way through the Family Trail with interactive stations for listening, touching, playing and drawing.

Cooperation with the Berlin International Film Festival

The Art Library - as a museum with a traditional and extensive collection of graphic design - already held exhibitions of film posters in its rooms in 1959 (on the occasion of the IX International Film Festival) and 1975 (for the 25th Film Festival). This connection will be resumed with "Großes Kino", which will run parallel to the 74th Film Festival at neighbouring Potsdamer Platz in 2024.

Organiser: Art Library, National Museums in Berlin

Venue: Kulturforum, Matthäikirchplatz, 10785 Berlin

Time: 3 November to 3 March

Opening hours: Mon closed, Tue to Sun 10am - 6pm, Wed 10am - 8pm.