- Flash Gordon
- Blixt Gordon (Sweden)
- Year of Film
- Mike Hodges
- Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Chaim Topol, Timothy Dalton, Max von Sydow, Ornella Muti, Brian Blessed
- Origin of Film
- USA | UK
- Type of Poster
- Style of Poster
- Origin of Poster
- Year of Poster
- Tongdee Panumas
- Tongdee Panumas
- Size (inches)
- 21 6/16" x 30 13/16"
- SS or DS
There are few films quite like Flash Gordon and having re-watched it on blu-ray recently I was reminded how much of an impression it had on me when I first saw it as a child. I also listened to the excellent audio commentary with director Mike Hodges, who admits to being an unlikely choice to direct and confirms in no uncertain terms that they were making things up as they went along. It sounds like a typically chaotic Dino De Laurentiis production with scenes being written the night before filming and huge amounts of the budget going on the costume and set designs (though these are very impressive, even today).
There are several reasons the film remains one of my favourites of the 1980s:
Topol is insanely over the top as Dr Hans Zarkov with an accent that changes from scene to scene. It’s not hard to see why Sam J. Jones never hit the big time, although you can’t say he doesn’t give the role his all. Max Von Sydow is clearly having fun playing Ming and Brian Blessed is spectacular as Vultan the Hawksman; no one else could deliver the simple line ‘pass me the remote control’ with such unbridled gusto. A pre-Bond Timothy Dalton is also rather memorable, sporting a spectacular moustache.
This infamous scene (featuring Peter Duncan) terrified me as a child, and not just ‘wow, that’s a bit weird’, I’m talking more like ‘I’m never going near a tree stump ever again’. Scarred. For. Life. There’s also an odd ‘black whoopee-cushion with tendrils’ creature that attacks Flash and is seared into my memory, even if it looks like a painted balloon when you watch it again today.
The costumes and set designs
As mentioned, a serious amount of budget was spent on costumes and sets by Danilo Donati and it shows. You only have to watch this brief clip to get an idea of the amount of work that went into them – very impressive stuff.
Just like Jane Seymour in Live and Let Die, Ornella (playing Princess Aura) was responsible for putting more than a few hairs on my chest. Her costumes are the very definition of figure-hugging. The infamous interrogation scene has to be seen to be believed.
An awesome soundtrack by Brit rockers Queen that still sounds superb today. I almost tried to persuade my wife to walk down the aisle to the sound of Ming’s wedding march; it’s that good. The 2011 remaster is available on Spotify.
This landscape Thai poster was painted by the artist Tongdee Panumas (he signs his posters with just his first name) who was an incredibly prolific Thai film poster artist during the 70s, 80s and 90s but I’ve been unable to find out much about him, other than that he was born in 1947. If anyone has any more information please get in touch. A knowledgeable collector of Thai posters told me that the artists would rarely if ever see the film they were creating the poster for and would instead paint images based on still photos or posters from other countries. This led to some wild designs and even some artwork with characters and elements that didn’t even appear in the actual film!
I believe elements of this poster were copied from the same stills that were used to make some of the other worldwide posters for Flash Gordon, so it’s likely that the film was actually released some time after 1980. If anyone knows the date please get in touch. I also have a portrait version of the poster in the collection.