- Star Wars
- Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
- Year of Film
- George Lucas
- Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
- Origin of Film
- Type of Poster
- One sheet
- Style of Poster
- Style C
- Origin of Poster
- Year of Poster
- Tom Chantrell
- Size (inches)
- 27 1/16" x 41"
- SS or DS
- NSS #
Not only is this probably the best poster artwork for the film that started the biggest sci-fi franchise of all, it’s also considered by many to be the greatest work by the late, great British artist Tom Chantrell. Declaring it so is not an easy decision to make since Chantrell illustrated thousands of posters during his long career and there are many classic designs to choose from, including several Hammer posters and a brilliant design for ‘One Million Years B.C.’. I have a number of other posters by him on this site for you to peruse.
In 2013 I interviewed Chantrell’s widow Shirley about their life together and she recalled how Tom would often ask her to pose so he could capture the correct stance for female characters appearing on his posters. Shirley recalls how the project came about for Tom:
Tom was given an invite to the premier showing and we all went along as a family. As soon as he’d seen the film he had the synopsis, the 10” x 8” press stills and then he started to think about how he was going to tackle the project. From beginning to end it took one month, which is a lot of work for one poster. He’d never taken that long before and I don’t think he did again.
Shirley once again posed for Tom and this time she was his Princess Leia. She not only still has the reference photos taken that day but also still has the same dress she wore.
This poster perfectly captures the excitement and adventure of the seminal sci-fi blockbuster and, although originally intended just to be used for the UK market on the quad, the art was liked so much by Lucasfilm that the decision was made to use it for this style C one sheet, as well as for other posters around the world. George Lucas himself would later purchase the original artwork for his archives and I like to imagine it’s hanging on a wall in Skywalker Ranch.
Note that the style C one sheet was originally printed for use in international territories, meaning it was printed in the US for use in other English-speaking countries. Note that it’s lacking the MPAA ratings box (PG). There were a handful of style Cs that were printed with a ratings box which were used for limited US screenings, but these are harder to find than this international version. Another thing to note is that this poster was bootlegged towards the end of the 1980s and there are thought to be thousands of copies out there. Unlike typical fake one sheets, the bootlegs are full size at around 27″ x 41″ but there are ways to differentiate them. The colours on the fake are not as vibrant and there are two hairs that were likely caught in the printing presses when the fakes were being run off (one on Leia’s gown and one on R2D2’s foot). This video goes into detail about what to look for and Cinemasterpieces.com has a detailed section on the poster here. Moviepostercollectors.guide also has a page on what to look out for.
Sadly, Tom Chantrell passed away in 2001 and my friend, and author of the must own British Film Posters: An Illustrated History, Sim Branaghan wrote his obituary for the Guardian. He may no longer be with us but Tom Chantrell’s classic artworks have stood the test of time and continue to impress decades later.
To see the other posters I have in the collection that were painted by Chantrell click here.