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Metropolis Film Posters: Reviving a 90-Year-Old Icon

By Jenny Carless

When something from a previous era resonates strongly today, it makes us sit up and pay attention. Such is the case with a stunning poster series created by La Boca for Dark City Gallery, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Fritz Lang’s iconic 1927 science-fiction film, Metropolis.

The posters’ rich design is appealing, and the film’s dystopian theme remains relevant almost a century later.

Metropolis poster by La Boca (silver edition)

AN ARTISTIC ENDEAVOR

“We were approached by Dark City Gallery to see if we’d be interested in making a poster for the film,” explains Scot Bendall, La Boca’s founder. “The process is completely different to creating a real, functioning film poster: As the client is a gallery and not the film studio or filmmaker, it becomes more of an artistic endeavor than a marketing one.”

The poster’s core concept is the split between the robot and actress Brigitte Helm, who plays Maria in Metropolis. The human side has the eye closed; the robot side has the eye open.

“We also wanted to hint at the city shapes, but the buildings that make up the frame are abstracted,” Bendall says. “We give a nod to the original film posters, but at the same time we hope that we’ve created something new.”

The poster was released in four color variations—all with differing inks and papers. 

Metropolis poster by La Boca (red version)
Metropolis poster by La Boca (gold version)
Metropolis poster by La Boca (green version)

“We wanted them to feel quite precious in ‘real life,’ aside from viewing them on screens, so we used nice materials like mirrored papers, metallic inks, and varnishes,” Bendall explains. “I think it’s similar to the vinyl record and paperback book revivals—we like things we can stroke.”

THE PRINTMAKING PROCESS

La Boca created the artwork digitally before breaking it down into separate individual color plates for screen-printing, exactingly setting up each plate to ensure that there were no white gaps or unintentional overprinting effects.

“We very much rely on our fantastic printers, White Duck Editions, during this process; the advice they give us is always invaluable,” Bendall says.

La Boca’s usual process is to sketch by hand, and then draw individual elements within Adobe Illustrator, before finally transferring them to Adobe Photoshop for compositing, coloring, and texturing.

LA BOCA

Bendall and his team are a small, four-person agency in Notting Hill, London. Most illustration projects are collaborations between Bendall and his colleague Richard Carey, and both are pleased with how the Metropolis poster turned out.

“For us, it represents the movie and its period well,” says Bendall, who is drawn to the simplification of form, the combinations of colors, and the heavy use of geometrics from 1920s and 1930s art.

“Metropolis has always resonated with us, but we’d never considered creating a poster for it before now,” he says. “The film still feels ahead of its time in many ways—and the plot is perhaps as relevant today as it was in 1927.”

Posters are available from Dark City Gallery.

See more of La Boca’s work on Behance.