February 11, 2009
The Biblical Origin of Movie Posters
Betcha didn't know that a flick about Jesus sparked the first one-sheet. (We didn't either.)
There's a cool new exhibit at New York's Museum of Biblical Art called "Reel Religion: A Century of the Bible and Film."
MOBIA's official website says that the exhibition "probes the fascination the Bible has exerted over filmmakers as different and distinct as Cecil B. deMille, Mel Gibson, John Huston, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Martin Scorsese. The exhibition features 80 rare vintage movie posters reaching back to the dawn of film in 1898."
That 1898 film was The Passion Play of Oberammergau, which actually sparked the very first movie poster. After a small flier proved ineffective for promoting the film, the promoters created a poster measuring 27" × 41" that became the template for the one-sheet promo we see in theaters everywhere today--with those very same dimensions.
A couple of interesting things about this first poster: It notes that the image is an "actual scene" from the movie, and makes a big deal that the film itself is "reproduced by means of 2554 feet of LIFE MOTION PICTURE FILM."
"Film is a recognized art form that has developed relatively recently," says Paul Tabor, MOBIA's Director of Exhibitions. "Not unlike painters, filmmakers from the outset turned to the Bible for emotionally powerful source material. The posters made to promote these films were often works of arts themselves."