{ feuilleton }


• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


Abysmal creatures


Bezdna (Abyss).

A couple of film posters from a time when poster artists weren’t prevented from treating their subject in a symbolic manner. Both these designs are the work of one M. Kalmanson (and I’m assuming here that the scant information is accurate), and both are for Russian films produced in 1917. Beautiful Century alerted me to the work above which Japonisme had spotted a couple of years ago when gathering the more familiar images of women menaced by those pesky cephalopods. Searching around produced the poster below which confirms that the artist had tentacles on the brain that year, creating a picture that looks like a collaboration between Edmund Dulac and HG Wells. There’s little information anywhere about the films themselves but that’s not too surprising when so much of the silent era has been lost forever. As with The Isle of Lost Ships, it’s a good bet that the cinematic reality was a lot less interesting than the promise of the poster design.


Poison of the Big City. (Maybe… I can’t find this title confirmed in separate sources.)

Previously on { feuilleton }
Fascinating tentacula
Jewelled butterflies and cephalopods
The art of Rune Olsen
The art of NoBeast
Coming soon: Sea Monsters and Cannibals!



Posted in {design}, {film}.

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7 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Krzysztof


    Well, “Poison of the Big City” is the adequate translation of the original title “Stolichniy yad”, although more accurate one would be “Poison of the Capital City”. The film (the other title: “Konets dnevnika”, i.e. “The End of the Diary”), starring Vera Kholodnaya, Vitold Polonsky and Ivan Khudoleyev, was directed by Pyotr Chardynin. All the prints are lost now, and only some Russian-language sites provide some skimpy information about this title, but indeed it looks like the poster design was a lot more interesting than the film itself.

  2. #3 posted by Cuttlefish Country


    Great poster art! Any idea how I’d go about seeking permission to feature them in our forthcoming documentary film?

  3. #4 posted by John


    Krzysztof: Thanks, I was too lazy to type out the title in Cyrillic then try translating it. It’s also not listed on Chardynin’s IMDB page which added to the confusion.

    Gabriel: Makes me wonder whether anyone’s tried doing a cephalopodic mixtape. Discogs.com lists ten (!) groups with the name Octopus. And let’s not forget Roger Dean’s album sleeve for Gentle Giant.

    Cuttlefish Country: Sorry, I’ve no idea who (if anyone) would own the rights. I expect they’re copyright-free given their age but that’s just conjecture.

  4. #5 posted by Gabriel McCann


    Surely someone must have done some sort of monsters of the deep mixtape for Jeff Vandermeer by now?
    Love the album cover and artwork. Wonder what the music is like

  5. #6 posted by John


    Gentle Giant were progressive rock, I think, but I don’t recall ever having heard anything by them.

  6. #7 posted by lotusgreen


    thanks, john, and i love its getting aired out again with new context.

    man do you ever have intelligent readers.






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