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Wednesday, March 29, 2006






They Act Their Age In Germany


As this writer gets older, he appreciates more and more those who are willing to act their age. He appreciates even more those poster artists willing to depict actors as they really are, or in this case, were. These images aren’t designed to flatter their subjects. There’s an honesty about them that’s refreshing. We never had posters in the U.S. so revealing of their subjects as these. I think they’re great. You really get the character of these veterans as they headed into the twilight of their careers. Apparently, German audiences were better prepared to appreciate these actors in realistic terms, while the rest of us made do with heavily retouched, misleading portrayals. That’s a wonderful image of Spencer Tracy, for instance. It’s from The Mountain, and sure enough, that’s how Spence looked by 1956 --- like a monument. This artist salutes those long, hard years that brought Tracy here. To my mind, he never looked so majestic. Same for Bogart. The artist doesn’t shrink from the dissipation that shows in the man’s expression. In fact, he celebrates it. As far as I’m concerned, none of Bogart’s American posters convey his stature so effectively. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas were not so old, of course, but already the artist explores the mature image that is making it’s presence felt in their screen images, and celebrates it. Cary Grant may not have appreciated the rather severe depiction we have here, but isn’t it refreshing to have a glimpse of the actor at a point when age was becoming a serious issue, and Grant was himself considering retirement at times because of it. There’s such drama in these German posters. They seem to have understood these icons far better than we ever did.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We Europeans tend to accept things as they are- no need to gloss over the reality. That's why european movies rarely go for the happy endings - too fake and unrealistic.
These posters are a really good example of such philosophy. Movies are not a place of refuge from reality, but a place of examining and coming to terms with reality.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Greg G. said...

The Bogart poster went a litle overboard in my opinion. It looks like an ad for Boris Karloff's The Mummy.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think movies can be BOTH a tool for examining life AND a refuge from reality (think how many children from unhappy homes turn to movies - and the arts in general - for a necessary escape...heck, I was one of them)

Most of the time, I prefer a happy ending. I love movies that make me feel glad to be alive, and renew my optimism and faith in the human race - rather than grim, (often pretentious) films that revel in the ugliness and the worst of human nature. Just my opinion.

At any rate... I like these posters. :) Y'know what would be *really* daring though? Show the signs of aging for the actresses too! (I know, these women were much younger than their leading men...good thing they didn't cast any wrinkled hags, eh?)

Christine

4:13 AM  

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