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Diva / quad / UK


Poster Poster

This is the UK quad for the release of Diva, which was the first full-length feature from Jean-Jacques Beineix, the French director whose most internationally famous film is Betty Blue (1986). Beineix is seen as the originator of the French film movement that became known as ‘cinéma du look‘, which was described as prioritising style over substance and spectacle over narrative. Luc Besson (Subway, Nikita) and Leos Carax (Les Amants du Pont-Neuf) were the other key directors and their films often featured doomed love affairs, scenes in the Paris Metro and plenty of contemporary pop-culture references.

Based on the novel of the same by Swiss author Daniel Odier the film is set in Paris and tells the story of a young mild-mannered postman called Jules (Frédéric Andréi) who has an obsession with a celebrated opera singer called Cynthia Hawkins. The singer has never had one of her performances officially recorded, believing that music like hers should only exist in the moment for the audience watching. Jules attends a performance and illicitly makes a perfect recording before meeting her backstage and stealing the dress she performed in. A few days later Jules inadvertently gets drawn into a criminal conspiracy after a desperate woman on the run from hitmen, including Dominique Pinon‘s Le curé (as seen on this poster), drops a cassette into his postbag. The tape implicates the local police chief in an international smuggling ring and soon Jules has not only the hitmen after him but also a shady pair of Taiwanese men who want the recording of the opera singer. Luckily, Jules has help in the form of a mysterious bohemian called Gorodish (Richard Bohringer) and his Vietnamese-French muse Alba (Thuy An Luu).

As progenitor of the ‘cinéma du look‘ movement the film is visually stunning throughout and features excellent use of several Paris locations, including a memorable chase sequence on the Metro and a great scene inside a giant abandoned factory. The story may come second to the visuals but it’s still an excellent watch and rightfully garnered plenty of critical plaudits on its release in France and then later in the US and the UK.

This UK quad was printed for the legendary British distribution (and later production) company Palace Pictures and, like their quad for Evil Dead, features a flash indicating that the film was available on video. I believe the first time this film was released in the UK was in 1982 and it’s likely that Palace gave the film a limited cinema release as well as making it available on VHS. Friend of the site John Costello confirmed that the film received a release on VHS on September 25th 1982.

The design and illustration of the poster, which is actually of a shot in the film where Jules’ bike helmet is seen on a mannequin, is credited on the poster to ‘Pens’, about whom I’ve been unable to find any details. If anyone knows more about the designer I’d appreciate the info.

Subway / B2 / Japan


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 Cinematerial. 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


Poster Poster

Subway / one sheet / USA


Poster Poster