Often the most suppressed environments yield the greatest examples of artistic expression. When there’s an oppressive force to legitimately kick against, every opposing shout rings with more vehemence. Consider Czechoslovakia in the 1960s. Having been under a none-too-popular communist regime since the late forties, there was plenty to be upset about. The economy was in collapse, food was in short supply and large factions of the population felt distrustful of their government (when have large factions of the population EVER trusted their government?). While the earlier Devětsil movement may have helped pave the way for the New Wave, stricter censorship made true cinematic dissent difficult to achieve. With a more relaxed attitude toward censorship and greater access to funding, a brief, but beautiful, period of pure cinematic expression flourished and gave birth to internationally recognised figures such as Miloš Forman. This enviable period was soon thwarted during the infamous Prague Spring. Some filmmakers fled the country while those remaining had their work systematically banned.

The above is a VERY brief account of an amazing period. The films produced are among some of my favourites and always provide inspiration. This post isn’t about the films themselves though. I want to focus on the posters that accompanied these films. They provide an amazing insight into the films themselves and are a design nerd’s wet dream. I get lost in them. I am eternally grateful to brilliant companies like Second Run for making so many of these films available, but I sure do wish they’d reproduce the original Czech poster art. So what follows is not a comprehensive archive, but a compendium of some personal favourites.

O Slavnosti a Hostech (The Party and the Guests) 1966

Malá Morská Víla (The Little Mermaid) 1976
(okay, so this one techinally falls outside of the New Wave era, but I love it)

Spalovac Mrtvol (The Cremator) 1969

Horí, má Panenko (The Fireman’s Ball) 1967

Slnko v Sieti (The Sun in a Net) 1962

Kazdy Den Odvahu (Courage For Every Day) 1964

Sedmikrásky (Daisies) 1966 

Prípad pro zacínajícího kata (Case for a Rookie Hangman) 1970

Valerie a Týden Divu (Valerie and Her Week of Wonders) 1970

Den Sedmý – Osmá Noc (The Seventh Day, the Eighth Night) 1969

So there’s a measly 10 posters. I encourage everyone to seek more out for themselves. A visual feast awaits you.