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Subway / B2 / Japan

30.01.17

Poster Poster

This is the Japanese B2 poster for the release of Luc Besson‘s 1985 comedy drama Subway. It followed on from the director’s first film, The Last Battle, which was released two years earlier. Subway reunited him with several of the actors and crew from that film, including Jean Reno, who who would go on to feature in many of Besson’s directorial efforts. French-American actor Christopher Lambert appears in the lead role of Fred, a grifter who steals documents from a rich businessman and escapes into the Paris Metro.

Lambert stars alongside Isabelle Adjani who appears as Héléna, the frustrated wife of the businessman from whom Fred has stolen the documents. The film is set largely on location in the Metro and makes great use of the halls, concourses and even the areas usually off-limits to the public. After being locked in overnight, Fred begins to explore and eventually meets Le Roller (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a petty thief who has made a home in an abandoned storage room. Le Roller introduces Fred to the other characters who called the underground their home, including the musclebound Big Bill (Christian Gomba) and The Florist (Richard Bohringer). 

The admittedly slight plot sees Fred continue to evade a bunch of hired goons sent by the businessman, as well as the subway police. The commissioner (a great performance by Michel Galabru) gets increasingly frustrated as his men, including one he’s nicknamed Batman (Jean-Pierre Bacri) fail to catch Le Roller time and time again. Héléna becomes increasingly infatuated with Fred, eventually realising his carefree attitude is the perfect antidote the marriage she feels trapped in. The film features a typically great score by regular Besson collaborator Éric Serra who also appears in the film as a member of a band that Fred brings together. The film was a success with critics as well as the French box-office. A year later Lambert would star in Highlander, a film that shot him to international stardom and lead to him winning multiple Hollywood roles.

 

This Japanese poster features the same artwork that was used on the French poster. It appears that the Japanese designer simply took a copy of a French poster, including all the flaws which that particular copy had. If you look closely at some of the images you can see hairs, scratches and other blemishes that must have been present on the poster. The artwork is credited to an artist called Bernard Bernhardt about whom I’ve been able to discover very little. Some of his other film posters can be seen on artmajeur.com, including ones for Amadeus. According to this translated interview he was born in Paris in 1950 and worked on posters for several famous directors, including Roman Polanski and Michael Mann, over a thirty year period.

Subway / quad / UK

18.05.11

Poster Poster

Subway / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster

La Femme Nikita / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
La Femme Nikita
AKA
Nikita (France / Japan)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Luc Besson
Starring
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno
Origin of Film
France | Italy
Genre(s) of Film
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1991
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Photograph by Lisa Powers
Size (inches)
27" x 39 11/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
The Hit of Paris and London Has Come to America.

Nikita / quad / UK

18.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
La Femme Nikita
AKA
Nikita (France / Japan)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Luc Besson
Starring
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno
Origin of Film
France | Italy
Genre(s) of Film
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Idest
Artist
Photography by Lisa Powers
Size (inches)
30" x 39 7/8"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Nikita / A1 / Germany

29.05.14

Poster Poster
Title
Nikita
AKA
La Femme Nikita (US / UK)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Luc Besson
Starring
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno
Origin of Film
France | Italy
Genre(s) of Film
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno,
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
23 7/16" x 33"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the German A1 poster for the original release of Luc Besson‘s international breakthrough hit, Nikita, featuring design and artwork by Renato Casaro. A French/Italian co-production, the film stars Anne Parillaud (Besson’s wife at the time) as the titular assassin who starts out as a drug-addicted teenager living a life of crime. When a robbery at a pharmacy goes awry and her friends are killed in a gunfight, Nikita shoots dead a policeman before being arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Soon after arriving in prison, Nikita is kidnapped and wakes up in a specialist facility where she learns that her death has been faked and she has been selected to become part of a secretive government agency simply known as the Centre. Nikita is given the choice of training as an assassin or to end up in the pauper’s grave earmarked for her. When she wisely chooses the former Nikita begins to learn the skills of a stealthy assassin under the guidance of Bob (Tchéky Karyo), her agency handler, and Amande (Jeanne Moreau).

After graduating an becoming a sleeper agent in Paris, Nikita meets and falls in love with Marco (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a man she meets in a supermarket, but before long Centre activates her for assassination missions and both her relationship and life are under threat, especially when a mission inside an embassy gets messy and Victor the Cleaner (Jean Reno) is called to help out. Despite mixed critical reaction the film was an international box-office hit and, for reasons I’ve never understood, was given the lengthier title of La Femme Nikita outside of France and Germany. Four years later Besson and Reno would reunite for the lauded and much-loved Leon: The Professional. In addition, two American TV series have since been made based on the original film.

In 2013 I interviewed the designer and artist Renato Casaro for this site and he mentioned this poster during our chat. This is the excerpt:

—————————–

Every time you worked on a poster you were trying to do something new with your painting style?
Yes, I didn’t want to just recycle the same designs over and over, or paint in the same colours just because it had worked for one poster. I used the airbrush carefully because I didn’t want that to be what I was known for, plus used exclusively it created very cold, artificial artwork. I would always paint the base of any artwork with gouache oils and then use the airbrush to add little bits of texture, like shadows or highlights that would really help to make the original painting that little bit more exciting and realistic. Two posters that I used airbrush almost entirely for were those for Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky and Luc Besson’s Nikita. I’m proud of how both of those turned out, particularly the first one.

I really like the design for Nikita.
Yes, that just came to me one day whilst I was thinking of ideas. I decided that you shouldn’t see her face or what she had done to cause this bright red blood splash onto clean white tiles. The film was quite complex and focused on this woman in crisis so I knew that the poster had to be a sympathetic image to sell it to cinema goers.

——

Renato also mentioned that he’d worked on some ideas for the poster before seeing the film:

Did you ever work on poster ideas without having seen the film or visiting the set?
Very occasionally yes, but I usually made sure I spoke to people involved to have a good idea of the plot and the characters before I’d start doing anything. I did do several sketches for Nikita without good results, but once I’d seen the film it was quite easy to find the right essence for the poster.

—————————–

To read the full interview with Renato Casaro click here. To see the other posters I’ve collected by the artist click here.

Nikita / Thailand

03.12.15

Poster Poster
Title
Nikita
AKA
La Femme Nikita (US / UK)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Luc Besson
Starring
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno
Origin of Film
France | Italy
Genre(s) of Film
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno,
Type of Poster
Thai
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Thailand
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Tongdee Panumas
Artist
Tongdee Panumas
Size (inches)
23 15/16" x 34 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the original Thai poster for the release of Luc Besson‘s international breakthrough hit, Nikita, featuring artwork by Tongdee Panumas. A French/Italian co-production, the film stars Anne Parillaud (Besson’s wife at the time) as the titular assassin who starts out as a drug-addicted teenager living a life of crime. When a robbery at a pharmacy goes awry and her friends are killed in a gunfight, Nikita shoots dead a policeman before being arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Soon after arriving in prison, Nikita is kidnapped and wakes up in a specialist facility where she learns that her death has been faked and she has been selected to become part of a secretive government agency simply known as the Centre. Nikita is given the choice of training as an assassin or to end up in the pauper’s grave earmarked for her. When she wisely chooses the former Nikita begins to learn the skills of a stealthy assassin under the guidance of Bob (Tchéky Karyo), her agency handler, and Amande (Jeanne Moreau).

After graduating and becoming a sleeper agent in Paris, Nikita meets and falls in love with Marco (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a man she meets in a supermarket, but before long Centre activates her for assassination missions and both her relationship and life are under threat, especially when a mission inside an embassy gets messy and Victor the Cleaner (Jean Reno) is called to help out. Despite mixed critical reaction the film was an international box-office hit and, for reasons I’ve never understood, was given the lengthier title of La Femme Nikita outside of France and Germany. Four years later Besson and Reno would reunite for the lauded and much-loved Leon: The Professional. In addition, two American TV series have since been made based on the original film.

This Thai poster features excellent artwork by 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. I’ve been unable to find out much about him, other than that he was born in 1947, so if anyone has any more details please get in touch. Note that this is larger than the standard Thai poster size of around 21″ x 31″.

The artwork features elements of other posters for Nikita, including the original French one (overhead view of a street) and the UK quad (Nikita sat down holding a gun). The German poster by Renato Casaro is also referenced in the top right corner.

To see the other posters I’ve collected that were painted by Tongdee click here.

 

Nikita / B2 / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
La Femme Nikita
AKA
Nikita (France / Japan)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Luc Besson
Starring
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno
Origin of Film
France | Italy
Genre(s) of Film
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1991
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Leon / quad / UK

18.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Leon
AKA
Léon (France - original title) | The Professional (USA)
Year of Film
1994
Director
Luc Besson
Starring
Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Willi One Blood, Don Creech
Origin of Film
France
Genre(s) of Film
Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Willi One Blood, Don Creech,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1995
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30" x 39 7/8"
SS or DS
DS
Tagline
He moves without sound. Kills without emotion. Disappears without trace.

Leon / B2 / integral version / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Leon
AKA
Léon (France - original title) | The Professional (USA)
Year of Film
1994
Director
Luc Besson
Starring
Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Willi One Blood, Don Creech
Origin of Film
France
Genre(s) of Film
Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Willi One Blood, Don Creech,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Integral version
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1996
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

The Professional / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
The Professional
AKA
Léon (France - original title)
Year of Film
1994
Director
Luc Besson
Starring
Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Willi One Blood, Don Creech
Origin of Film
France
Genre(s) of Film
Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Willi One Blood, Don Creech,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1994
Designer
Pulse Advertising
Artist
--
Size (inches)
26 6/8" x 39 11/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
A perfect assassin. An innocent girl. They have nothing left to lose except each other.

Leon / B2 / Japan

11.03.13

Poster Poster
Title
Leon
AKA
Léon (France - original title) | The Professional (USA)
Year of Film
1994
Director
Luc Besson
Starring
Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Willi One Blood, Don Creech
Origin of Film
France
Genre(s) of Film
Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Willi One Blood, Don Creech,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1995
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Unique artwork on this poster for the Japanese release of French director Luc Besson‘s classic ‘hitman with a heart’ film, Leon (AKA The Professional in the US). The film reunited Besson with his  regular collaborator Jean Reno (he was one of the leads in Besson’s The Big Blue, amongst other roles), who’s superb as the titular assassin wrestling with his strict code of ethics after he witnesses the massacre of a family that leaves one survivor, a twelve-year-old girl called Mathilda (Natalie Portman in a breakout role). The perpetrator is the psychotic, corrupt policeman Stansfield, played brilliantly by Gary Oldman, and Leon decides to take Mathilda under his wing to protect her, but Mathilda wants revenge and Stansfield will stop at nothing to track down the witness to his heinous crime.

This Japanese B2 actually features a still from the director’s cut of the film. Japan was one of the only countries in the world (including France) to see a theatrical release of the so-called ‘Version Integrale’, or International cut, of the film that adds 26 minutes of extra footage – the poster for that release can be seen here. I also have the UK quad and the American one sheet.