At The Movies with Heath Killen – Retrospective

by Jenny Butler
Monday 14th November 2011

This week we welcome Heath Killen to the Guest Blog! You might remember Heath from his interview a few months ago when we learnt about his passion for film posters through his Lost Films series. Over the coming week Heath will be giving us a brief history of Australian Film Posters from 1906 to today. -Jenny x

The Australian summer is upon us again. This means sweltering heat, blistering beaches, melting suburbs and most importantly – retreating to the comfort of an air conditioned cinema in order to escape it all. In honour of this great tradition, I’d like to take you on a little journey back through the history of Australian film posters.

One of the first Australian film posters from 1906. On the right, an updated version from a few years ago.

Despite belonging to a billion dollar industry that has already passed its first century, it has to be said that Australian film posters have a patchy heritage. It’s difficult to even find work designed prior to 1950, and the less said about the 90’s the better, but there are some genuine diamonds in the rough – and real renaissance in quality and style has been emerging over the past ten years.

As with most early film posters from around the world, early Australian film posters were usually illustrated. They focused on portraits and landscapes, with copy that was designed to sell you on the pure spectacle of the moving picture. Many of these posters are excursions into pure “Australiana”. Akubras. Bikinis. Boomerangs. The map of Australia is a recurring motif.

Towards the later half of the 20th century, simpler, more conceptual posters emerge. The brilliant Alex Stitt designed some of my personal favourites, including The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. Interestingly enough, following that we see a brief re-emergence of that hand-drawn realism during the 80’s.


by Jenny Butler
Monday 14th November 2011


  • Joula 5 years ago

    Very cool would love one of these!

  • Bernardo 5 years ago

    Yes please!

  • Michelle 5 years ago

    Love the The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. Simple but more the effective for it.

  • Benjamin 5 years ago

    Luv these! Will have my fingers crossed all week!

  • Ros 5 years ago

    How fabulous – love a movie poster on a wall!

  • mariana 5 years ago

    oh oh… yes please!

  • Josette Gardiner 5 years ago

    I bought my partner a framed french aperitif vintage poster and we recently decided after 5 years to go our separate ways, sadly the poster went with him…. this would make an amazing replacement on my wall!

  • Siobhan C 5 years ago

    My dibs will be on a poster for The Year My Voice Broke.

  • Theresa 5 years ago

    I only have eyes for you

  • Lauren 5 years ago

    Wow, just stunning and iconic images. I especially love Mel Gibson in the Year of Living Dangerously.

  • Kylie 5 years ago

    Jeda is my favourite of those you have chosen to show us today.

  • jess 5 years ago

    what a great idea for a guest blog. love it.

  • stephanie darling 5 years ago

    I loved reading this – it is so interesting how posters have changed over the years

  • Chris Bowden 5 years ago

    That’s a different The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith poster than I’ve seen, I’m more familiar with the one with Alex Stitt’s handwriting for the title. He also did a cracking graphic for The Devil’s Playground used in the film’s opening title sequence, not sure if it was used on a poster though. Hope you’ll be featuring the Alvin Purple poster Heath!

  • Nadine 5 years ago

    Fantastic reflection of Australian thinking and times.

  • Barbara 5 years ago

    My Grandfather acted in The Devils Playground, Ned kelly, News Front and The Sundowners just to name a few. It would be great to be able to get any of these posters for my Dad for Christmas.

  • Phoebe 5 years ago

    It is interesting to see the many ways films are interpreted through print media. What a fun way to celebrate the efforts of the Australian film Industry. I would just love to own one of my own.

  • Pauly 5 years ago

    An evolution of Australian culture…

  • Cassie 5 years ago

    Very interesting seeing where our poster art started

  • Dan 5 years ago

    Loving the Bass-y Allies poster, any idea who designed it?

  • annelouise 5 years ago

    love the comment about ‘the less said about the 90s the better’; sums up so many things, really.

    and love the australian focus; i’m not some flag-cape wearing psycho, but i do think we ignore our own backyard a little sometimes, grass is always greener and all that

    (and if i was to win: would have to be death in brunswick, for sure, perhaps one good thing to come out of the 90s?)

  • Jo 5 years ago

    Fantastic! So excited about the guest blogger this week!

  • Jen 5 years ago

    Home made movies allowed??? xxoo

  • janne Blacker 5 years ago

    Great to see with posters from other countries getting such a BIG following

  • STACY POLLARD 5 years ago

    totally love the evocative simplicity of jimmy blacksmith . Jedda is also very cool.

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