Back in 1977, George Lucas’s Star Wars set the united states on fire, and so, with that 20th century fox cleared the film for an international release. Today we’re looking at the extensive history of Star Wars posters.
Star Wars “Circus Poster” by Drew Struzan (1978)
One of our personal favourites, painted by the legendary Drew Struzan, known for his prolific work in the world of film posters, projects Struzan worked on include: Indiana Jones, E.T, Goonies, Blade Runner, The Thing and the impeccable Coming to America.
This poster was actually a collaboration between Struzan and Charles White III, and was commissioned for the 1978 re-release of Star Wars
RATING: 9/10 – a total classic made by a master, with enough interesting creative flair to stand out against the more conventional posters
“Star Wars 2” Japanese Poster by Noriyoshi Ohrai (1980)
Noriyoshi Ohrai painted this, frankly, stunning Empire Strikes Back poster. Contrary to typical Asian language posters, the type here is kept to a minimum letting the artwork do most of the talking, with its stand out palette of greens and blues that then get hit with the strong contrast of the typeface and bounty hunter’s hot reds. It does a fantastic job of communicating the villain hierarchy in the film, with the bounty hunters in a more immediately dangerous hot red, but small and in the corner, showing that they’re not actually the biggest threat to Luke and his comrades. This contrasts with the huge, looming image of Darth Vader in a much more muted green tone, but is the more menacing threat in the film.
RATING: 8/10 – thematically accurate and communicates the idea of a “Space Opera” perfectly
Empire Strikes Back (Hong Kong) (1980)
As mentioned in the previous entry, Asian language conversions of traditionally English language cinema posters tend to suffer from text bloat, chocking the poster image with typeface like it’s some sort of tabloid newspaper cover. Although if there is anything to be said for this style of Star Wars poster, it is always neat to see the Star Wars logo re-imagined in a different language.
RATING: 3/10 a confusing mix of painting and photo collage covered up in text, makes this image very hard to read at a normal distance
Polish Star Wars Posters
Empire Strikes Back by Jakub Erol (1982)
The first polish Star Wars poster in this article, if there is anything to be said about the polish Star Wars posters is that they brought their own unique graphic style to the project and give a very distinct, striking look.
If you were expecting me to actually comment on this poster in relation to the source material, you’ve come to the wrong place. To my knowledge besides the presences of planets and stars on the poster this is Jakub Erol doing whatever the heck he likes and it’s pretty remarkable.
It’s understandable that many outside of Poland wouldn’t know about the prolific poster art career of Jakub Erol, but among his catalogue of work he has: Return of Mechagodzilla, The Terminator, Alien, King Kong (1978) and E.T.
RATING: 5 Excuse me?’s out of 10
Empire Strikes Back by Miroslaw Lakomski (1980)
Sporting a similarly impressive list of work to Erol, Miroslaw Lakomski is a famed Polish poster artist, some of his stand out works include his interpretation of War Games and Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Lakomski applies a street art print cross that gives Empire Strikes Back a very raw feeling. The image inspires 1980’s-esque computing and the implied warfare the series is known for.
RATING: 7 “Stick it to the man”s out of 10
Return of the Jedi by Witold Dybowski (1984)
As with the other Polish artists in this list Dybowski is a veteran of the Polish film poster world. His stunning take on Return of the Jedi shows us the thematic element of the who saga, making a comment on how despite the strength of a family bond, you are not you parents and can do better, here symbolised with an exploding Darth Vader bust.
RATING: 7 “exploding Darth Vader heads” out of 10
Now, if you thought that the Polish posters were “a little bit wacky” put on your seat belt and stow your tray table because we’re going to hit a little turbulence here folks. To my (albeit limited) knowledge of the proceedings our friends in the Eastern Bloc of the Soviet Union didn’t have anything to go off for these poster designs, it’d wager they didn’t even have as much as productions stills to use for reference. But, at it’s very least, it resulted in some real bogus stuff.
“Star Wars” by Yuri Bokser and Alexander Chantsev (1990)
As previously mentioned, the poor Soviets didn’t have any reference material for Star Wars, this is in part of course because Star Wars was banned in the U.S.S.R until the fall of the union and berlin wall in 1990, where (supposedly) these two good Russian lads were told that it was a space western and must have said “Well, this is what pops into my mind when I hear those words!”
All joking aside this is an interesting interoperation, considering their lack of exposure the creative team must have had to the source material. After all they could have gotten their hands on some Russian Star Wars bootlegs, but the rules around banned material, American materiel at that, was severe.
RATING: 3 “Spurs n’ chaps” out of 10
“Star Wars?” by Yuri Bokser and Alexander Chantsev (1990)
Another Boker and Chantsev classic, I’m making the educated guess that this is meant to be Darth Vader, mostly from the black palette and what seem to be lightsabers. It’s the freedom to release a poster of Darth Vader as a robot cat man, who wears a tiara made of everyone’s lightsabers, like some kind of General Grievous cross debutant that really hammers home the impact of the fall of the Berlin wall.
It’s also important to mention that the frame seems to be made out of illuminati style hieroglyphs, do with that what you want.
RATING: 8 “Large Black Robot Cats” out of 10
Star Wars by Andras Felvideki (Hungary) (1990)
A couple things of note here, firstly I find the over presence of human faces on both Chewbacca and a Bantha, honestly upsetting, secondly I never wondered what Star Wars would look like if it were a melted Mars bar I found in an old pair of jeans, but hey, now we both know.My uneasy Capitalist mind aside, Felvideki is actually a very accomplished illustrator who specialised in etching and engraving.
RATING: 5 “Sorry, I need to sit down”s out of 10
South East Asia
Attack of the Clones (2002) (India)
The artist of the piece is unknown, although because it’s a photo montage poster it’s highly likely that it was a staff member of a third-party marketing company in India. For anyone who knows episode 2: Attack of the Clones (I don’t like sand, the women and children too ect.) you may remember the extremely minor roles these two characters play within the film, I can only imagine that the company was provided some production stills by Lucas Film and constructed this thus.
Disregarding the actual relevance of the characters in question, this is a very well composed poster, if you imagine this composition as painted by Drew Struzan in the style of the Circus poster from the beginning, it’d be a very striking image.
RATING: 6 Bollywood rhythms out of 10
Attack of the Clones – “Good Guys” (2002)
A much glossier looking effort from this studio based in India, another example of being provided production stills and working Photoshop to get a plausible image. Although with that said, it does appear that our friends the Jedi are circling our pair and Padme is ready to cap some fools.
This is commonly referred to as the “Good Guys” poster, which adopts a healthy, orange hue, and to flex my “art school” a little – the colour palette used feels like a homage to enlightenment era painting, which typically saw the canvas been bathed in a golden light.
RATING: 6 sulking Anakins out of 10