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At The Movies with Heath Killen - Retrospective

14th November, 2011
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.

- Heath

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