Saragossa Manuscript posters

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Polish poster (1965) by Jerzy Skarzynski who was also the film’s production designer.

I love The Saragossa Manuscript, both the novel by Potocki and the movie by Has. I saw the film three times which, in my case, is absolutely exceptional.

Luis Buñuel in My Last Sigh (1983)

No surprise that a lifelong Surrealist was enamoured with Jan Potocki’s rambling collection of stories-within-stories. The 1965 Polish film by Wojciech Has had another famous enthusiast in Jerry Garcia whose efforts to restore and reissue The Saragossa Manuscript helped bring the film to a new generation of viewers in 1999. I was a beneficiary of this, having been intrigued for years by descriptions whilst hoping in vain that it might turn up on television. I prefer the film to the novel although to be fair to Potocki it’s a long time since I read his book.

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Another Polish design showing Zbigniew Cybulski as Alphonse.

Watching The Saragossa Manuscript again this weekend sent me looking for posters, some of which can be seen below. There are odd omissions: plenty of examples from the Eastern Bloc countries but few at all from Western Europe. The film suffered by having its 3-hour running time hacked about by distributors which didn’t help its reception outside Poland. The manuscript of the title is a book discovered during a skirmish in the Napoleonic wars, an account of the strange adventures of Alphonse Van Worden in the Sierra Morena region of Spain; one of the soldiers reading the manuscript is Van Worden’s grandson, the first of many coincidental connections. Van Worden’s adventures seem macabre at first—there are more bones in the opening scenes than in many horror films—but they soon turn farcical. As a burgeoning cast of characters appears, many of whom have their own tales to tell, the mood veers into outright sex comedy, albeit with mild philosophical overtones. Some scenes aren’t very far removed from Monty Python, especially those that feature an inept band of Spanish Inquisitors.

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Background drawings from the title sequence. Yes, the score is by Penderecki, his first.

All of which means this is another film that presents a challenge for a poster designer. Most of the early examples take their cues from the opening titles whose backgrounds feature drawings with a vaguely Surrealist and occult flavour that I’m guessing are also the work of Jerzy Skarzynski.

Continue reading “Saragossa Manuscript posters”

Weekend links 126

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Mala Reputación (1991) by Dogo Y Los Mercenarios. Cover art by Nazario Luque.

Artist Nazario Luque was Spain’s first gay comic artist who’s also known for the drawing which appeared (without permission) on the sleeve of Lou Reed Live – Take No Prisoners in 1978. On his website Nazario says he’s been described as “Exhibicionista, solidario, provocador, agitador moral, rompedor, arriesgado, polifacético, transgresor, canalla, pintiparado, morigerado o simplemente superviviente…” Via Música, maestros, a two-part post (second part is here) about album cover art by comic artists.

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop Returns. And quite conveniently, Ubuweb posts some original Radiophonic creations by electronic music genius Delia Derbyshire. Ms Derbyshire is profiled along with her other pioneering colleagues in an hour-long TV documentary, Alchemists of Sound.

• Tor.com celebrates the fiction of Shirley Jackson. Too Much Horror Fiction has a substantial collection of Shirley Jackson book covers.

Phantasmagorical and all but plotless, Nightwood flings itself madly upon the night, upon Wood, and upon the reader. Its sentences pomp along like palanquins and writhe like crucifixions. They puke, they sing. Their deliriums are frighteningly controlled. […] TS Eliot loved Nightwood so much that he shepherded its publication and wrote the introduction to the first edition. Dylan Thomas complimented it with his left hand by calling it “one of the three great prose books ever written by a woman” and with his right hand by stealing from it. […] Nightwood’s Dr. Matthew-Mighty-grain-of-salt-Dante O’Connor, florid monologist and transvestite, seems to have been a model (along with Captain Ahab) for Judge Holden in Blood Meridian. The difference is that Cormac McCarthy’s Judge is essentially Satan, whereas O’Connor is essentially Christ; they’re only just on opposite sides of the border of madness.

Austin Allen on The Life and Death of Djuna Barnes, Gonzo “Greta Garbo of American Letters”. There’s a lot more Djuna Barnes at Strange Flowers.

• Out at the end of the month, Extreme Metaphors, interviews with JG Ballard, 1967–2008, edited by Simon Sellars & Dan O’Hara.

• The favourite Polish posters of the Brothers Quay. Over at Cardboard Cutout Sundown there are more Quay book covers.

The Mancorialist: people on the streets of Manchester are given the Sartorialist treatment.

The Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia takes place on 29th September.

The Caves of Nottingham are explored in a detailed post at BLDGBLOG.

• In Remembrance: Bill Brent, Groundbreaking Queer Sex Publisher.

Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie

The Uranus Music Prize 2012

Fuck Yeah René Lalique

Dr Who: original theme (1963) by Ron Grainer with Delia Derbyshire | Falling (1964) by Delia Derbyshire | The Delian Mode (1968) by Delia Derbyshire | Blue Veils And Golden Sands (1968) by Delia Derbyshire.

Weekend links 71

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Manuel Orazi (1860–1934) was one of the best of the many Mucha imitators. An untitled & undated posting at Indigo Asmodel.

The mob now appeared to consider themselves as superior to all authority; they declared their resolution to burn all the remaining public prisons, and demolish the Bank, the Temple, Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, the Mansion House, the Royal palaces, and the arsenal at Woolwich. The attempt upon the Bank of England was actually made twice in the course of one day; but both attacks were but feebly conducted and the rioters easily repulsed, several of them falling by the fire of the military, and many others being severely wounded.

To form an adequate idea of the distress of the inhabitants in every part of the City would be impossible. Six-and-thirty fires were to be seen blazing in the metropolis during the night.

An Account of the Riots in London in 1780, from The Newgate Calendar.

In a week of apparently limitless bloviation, a few comments stood out. Hari Kunzru: “Once, a powerful woman told us there was no such thing as society and set about engineering our country to fit her theory. Well, she got her way. This is where we live now, and if we don’t like it, we ought to make a change.” Howard Jacobson: “One medium-sized banker’s bonus would probably pay for all the trash that’s been looted this past week.” Meanwhile Boff Whalley complained about the predictable misuse of the word “anarchy” by lazy journalists.

• For further historical perspective, a list of rioters and arsonists from The Newgate Calendar (1824), and an account of the looting in London during the Blitz.

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From a selection of works by Max Walter Svanberg (1912–1994) at But Does It Float. There’s more at Cardboard Cutout Sundown.

• NASA posted a gorgeous photo from the surface of the planet Mars. Related: Astronomers have discovered the darkest known exoplanet. Obliquely related: Julio Cortázar’s From the Observatory, a prose poem inspired by the astronomical observatories at Jaipur and New Delhi, India, receives its first English translation.

The Advisory Circle is still in a Kosmische groove. Not Kosmische at all, Haxan Cloak’s mix for FACT has Wolf Eyes, Sunn O))) and Krzysztof Penderecki competing to shatter your nerves.

• The wonderful women (and friends) at Coilhouse magazine are having a Black, White and Red fundraising party in Brooklyn, NYC, on August 21st. Details here.

• Sodom’s ambassador to Paris: the flamboyant Jean Lorrain is profiled at Strange Flowers.

Empire de la Mort: Photographs of charnel houses and ossuaries by Paul Koudounaris.

The Craft of Verse by Jorge Luis Borges: The Norton Lectures, 1967–68.

• Jesse Bering examines The Contorted History of Autofellatio.

Robert Crumb explains why he won’t be visiting Australia.

The Crackdown (1983) by Cabaret Voltaire.

Weekend links: New Year edition

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Flower Me Gently (2010) by Linn Olofsdotter.

• “Many of Moorcock’s editorials are published here, and they still make exhilarating reading. Then, as now, Moorcock set his face against a besetting English sin: a snobbish parochial weariness, an ironic superiority to the frightful oiks who have started filling up the streets. You can almost hear, behind the languorous flutter of the pages, Sir Whatsits sniggering to Lady Doo-Dah. It still goes on, and it’s usually the same flummery in different clothes. Moorcock not only would not go to the party: he threw the literary equivalent of explosive devices into the Hampstead living rooms.” Michael Moorcock’s Into the Media Web reviewed. And also here.

• “Beefheart channeled a secret history of America, the underbelly of a continent and a culture that has now all but vanished along with one of its greatest poets.” Jon Savage on the life and work of the late Captain.

Miniatures Blog, in which musician Morgan Fisher works his way through each of the fifty one-minute tracks on his extraordinary Miniatures compilation album, with details and anecdotes about the artists and the recording of each piece.

Look at Life: IN gear (1967). A Rank Organisation newsreel about Swinging London. Sardonic commentary and some great colour photography showing how the often shabby reality differs from the caricature. Many of the shots are familiar from documentaries about the era but this is the first time I’ve seen them all in one place.

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Predator (Self-portrait) by Linn Olofsdotter.

Lewis Carroll’s new story: The Guardian‘s review of Through the Looking-Glass from December, 1871. Related: My Through the Psychedelic Looking-Glass 2011 calendar is now reduced in price.

The United Kingdom and Ireland as seen from the International Space Station, December, 2010. Related: Spacelog, the stories of early space exploration from the original NASA transcripts.

The “Big Basket” Fraud, 1958: “…there seems to be a limited segment with a one-track mind interested in seeing an exaggerated masculine appendage.”

• “Ancient arena of discord”: a billboard for King’s Cross by Jonathan Barnbrook. Related: Vale Royal by Aidan Andrew Dun.

• The inevitable Ghost Box link, Jim Jupp is interviewed at Cardboard Cutout Sundown.

• Amazon is still playing the random moral guardian at the Kindle store.

Antwerpian Expressionists at A Journey Round My Skull.

Salami CD and vacuum packaging by Mother Eleganza.

Paris 1900: L’Architecture Art Nouveau à Paris.

Bill Sienkiewicz speaks about Big Numbers #3.

Philippe Druillet illustrates Dracula, 1968.

Aesthetic Peacocks at the V&A.

Well Did You Evah! (1990), Deborah Harry & Iggy Pop directed by Alex Cox.

Weekend links 27

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Annie Duels The Sun (2010) by Angie Wang.

I’m interviewed again, this time by James at Cardboard Cutout Sundown. Covering familiar subjects for {feuilleton} readers: art history, design, Lovecraft, the genre/mainstream seesaw, etc. Related: Jeff VanderMeer previewed my design for the forthcoming Steampunk Reloaded.

Battle over legacy of father of Art Nouveau. Prague authorities are demanding the paintings which comprise Alphonse Mucha’s Slav Epic be moved to the capital.

The films that time forgot. David Thomson on ten neglected works including a cult favourite of mine, Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End (1970).

The Viatorium Press: “Fine letterpress printing, digital typography, and hand painted illumination.” Among their recent productions is a poem by Clark Ashton Smith.

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À la conquête du pôle (1912); Georges Méliès vs. Jules Verne.

Taxandria, a feature-length collaboration between Raoul Servais, François Schuiten and, er, Alain-Robbe Grillet, is on YouTube. My earlier post about the film is here.

Salvagepunk, or (maybe) Post-post-modernism: “How a music micro-trend heralds an emerging, internet-enabled, aesthetic movement.” See also the latest issue of The Wire.

Drainspotting with Remo Camerota: documenting Japan’s creative manhole covers.

• Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of squid: a book devoted to Kraken Black Spiced Rum.

After Stanley Kubrick. Christiane Kubrick on life without Stanley K.

• Pills and penises and kissing boys: Tara Sinn’s Kaleidoscopes.

Found Objects: a hauntological dumping ground.

• Sandow Birk’s American Qur’an.

• RIP Frank Kermode.

Feuerland (1968) by Theo Schumann Combo; Feuerland (1977) by Michael Rother; Feuerland (2007) by Justus Köhnke.