Here's an interesting take on the Polish film posters I found at Cinemaposter.com, one of my favorite sources of information when it comes to the Polish School of Posters (I've added some bits here and there, but all the credit goes to those guys).
Since the Polish School of Posters movement is responsible for tons of posters with many purposes, its fair to assume that the film posters had a creative cycle similar to the Cyrk and Political posters. But one detail makes the film posters particularly important within the movement: the disruptive approach to an industry well known for its comfort zone, brought global attention to their designs.
The golden decade of Polish film posters, from approximately the mid 50s to the mid 60s was preceded by the pioneering work of a trio of artists in the 1940s. Henryk Tomaszewski, Tadeusz Trepkowski and Eryk Lipinski were the original graphic designers commissioned in 1946 by Film Polski (a State film distribution monopoly) to design film posters.
Their work soon revolutionized this particular form of advertising. Rather than using the stereotypical images of movie stars and exclamation points, they employed a whole new arsenal of graphic interpretation to convey a shorthand essence of the film. Its commonly said that Polish movie posters created not only a unique language in the industry, but also a desire to watch movies that, maybe if advertised in the "Hollywood way", wouldn't bring as much attention and people to the theater.
Some of these posters are obvious, some seem to be crazy nonsequiters that have nothing to do with the original picture, while others seem to change the focus of the movie altogether. Weekend At Bernies now looks more like a horror film, and Polish poster for The Terror of Mechagodzilla looks as if it was animated by the folks that made Yellow Submarine. Two terrific early examples are Tomaszewski' "Citizen Kane" 1948 poster, and Trepkowski' "Ostatni etap", also from 1948.
By the end of the 1940s, the political climate changed, Social Realism was introduced and other styles were severely restricted. Few works from the 1949-1953 period retained the high standards established earlier. In the meantime though, more designers were drawn to the field: Wojciech Fangor, Waldemar Swierzy, Jan Lenica, Jerzy Treutler, Roman Cieslewicz, Wiktor Gorka, Jan Mlodozeniec, Julian Palka, Franciszek Starowieyski, Jozef Mroszczak, Wojciech Zamecznik - to mention the absolutely essential names. By 1955, the Stalinist policies were history and - with the restrictions gone - the field exploded with brilliant, classic works.
The fresh, surreal visual approach inspired a whole generation of artists in the graphic field for decades to come, including the music industry (yep, those cool vinyl covers).
The golden period extended until 1965, more or less. Designs from the late 60s, while by no means regressing back to the corporate hack of Hollywood, generally lack - it ain't no crack - the freshness and boldness of the earlier pieces. At the same time, the variety of styles widened. Many new designers brought with them their own vision, spanning the spectrum from the lyrical impressionistic style of Maria Ihnatowicz, to the pop designs of Andrzej Krajewski; from the cyberpunk montages of Ryszard Kiwerski and Maciej Raducki, to minimalistic expressions of Bronislaw Zelek and Mieczyslaw Wasilewski.
In the mid-70s to mid-80s, the "Polish School" of poster design was suffering from atrophy of fresh ideas. Apart from the works of few artists who basically continued the previous trends, most posters from that period seem uninspired. In the 80s, the designs became politicized, with hardly any new designers entering the field. Some interesting trends emerged, signified by some works of Stasys Eidrigevicius and Wieslaw Walkuski, but overall quality of designs went rapidly downhill. Then came the 1990s, and the State monopoly ended. Suddenly the distribution of movies in Poland was taken over by Warner, Paramount, etc., and the Polish poster as we knew it ceased to exist.
Nowadays, most films are released with the same sort of ad display as in the US - essentially a photo montage of stars with approved typeface. Very few designers try to continue their work, rarely issuing a very limited series of posters (300 to 500). These are never displayed on the streets but are sold in galleries.
Virgo (Znak Panny) - Franciszek Starowieyski, 1969 *(signed)
Meeting of criminals – Eryk Lipinski, 1966
Two weeks in september – Bronislaw Zelek,1967
8 1/2 - Andrzej Pagowski, 1988
To kill a mockingbird – Bronislaw Zelek, 1965
Mandingo – Jakub Erol, 1978
A Hard Day’s Night – Waldemar Swierzy, 1964
Ashes And Diamonds - Wojciech Fangor, 1979
Help – Eryk Lipinski,1965
Mad Summer - Jolanta Karczewska, 1965
Born Losers - Ryszard Kiwerski, 1971