Five best exhibits at 1920s film poster exhibition

Five best exhibits at 1920s film poster exhibition
A total of 20 film posters from the early 20th century are displayed at Gorky Park.

An exhibit of film posters designed by brothers Vladimir and Georgy Stenberg (the 2—Stenberg—2 creative group) opened on 10 August in Gorky Park. Twenty original 1920s film posters from Andrei Shelenkov’s collection will be on display until 11 September in the park’s museum. Read about the five most interesting posters worth seeing.

Tretya Meshchanskaya (1927)

The face on the poster for Abram Room’s film is actress Lyudmila Semyonova’s. She played a woman caught in a love triangle with two Komsomol members who are vocational school students. She eventually gives up on both relationships in favour of the free single life. The name of the street where the characters live is symbolic. For Room’s generation, Tretya Meshchanskaya (now Shchepkina Street in the Meshchansky District in the Central Administrative Area) represented the everyday life of NEPmen, small businesspeople and opportunists in the Soviet Union, and their culture, especially music. All this is reflected in the poster. The main character’s face is half-covered by a lace curtain, with three playing cards, a queen and two kings, dashed aside.

Fanconi Café (1927)

This Stenberg brothers’ poster and the brief synopsis are the only things left from this film directed by Mikhail Kapchinsky. The story is centred around a modest worker sacrificed for the sake of capitalism. A wealthy man nicknamed Korova, owner of the Fanconi café in Odessa and a contractor for a team of chimney-sweep boys, cares only about profits. His workers get stuck in chimneys and faint but he does not bother to rescue them or to prevent another disaster. The poster features Korova and other moneybags sitting at the café. They will stop at nothing when it comes to cash.

Moulin Rouge (1929)

British film Moulin Rouge directed by Ewald Andre Dupont premiered in the Soviet Union only one year after its world release. A story in the life of the iconic Parisian cabaret impressed the audience with both costumes and plotlines. Andre is a young man in love with the daughter of famous dancer Parysia. He wants to ask for the girl’s hand in marriage despite his father’s disapproval and visits his beloved’s mother. Andre intends to ask Parysia to speak with his father but instead, falls for her beauty. Olga Tschechowa who plays the femme fatale and is portrayed on the poster is a Russia-born German actress who emigrated from Soviet Russia in 1920.

Zare (1926)

A poster for the film directed by Ambartsum Bek-Nazarov is the most valuable item on display. Despite the story set in the pre-revolution South Caucasus, the poster features a horseman in exotic Kurdish dress while the expressive red background and snaking credits indicate the constructivist era when the film came out. On horseback is poor man Saido who dares to stand against a powerful wealthy man who set his eyes on Saido’s beloved, Zare.

The Marriage Circle (1926)

The 1924 Hollywood blockbuster that was director Ernst Lubitsch’s breakthrough film reached the Soviet audience two years after the premiere. The light comedy, about a young woman who, taking revenge for her unlucky marriage, decides to ruin her friend’s life, was full of gags and had the audience rolling in the aisle. But it was not the frivolous story that lured the audience in but the starring actor, Adolphe Menjou, known in the Soviet Union for A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923) directed by Charles Chaplin and released shortly before The Marriage Circle. The Russian poster for A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate was also created by the Stenbergs.