German Expressionism in film posters

I’m currently swamped with schoolwork, publication editing, comics, and virtually no sleep, so alas, I haven’t been able to do much writing today. However, for your viewing pleasure, here’s a cavalcade of movie posters from Weimar Germany. Specifically, they’re rooted in the horror-friendly style of German Expressionism – a movement that, throughout the 1920s, produced some of the best and earliest horror masterpieces. I’ll be back this weekend with reviews of The Fog, Perfect Blue, and more. Enjoy!



















It’s fascinating how the extreme, angular stylization of these films carries over to their poster art. These are well-designed posters that complement the films they were made for, with the composition and typography integrated to make terrifying images. Look at the predatory, vampiric Mephistopheles in the poster for Murnau’s Faust, or Dr. Mabuse’s glowing yellow eyes. Or, maybe best of all, the pestilent creature representing Nosferatu‘s titular monster. They all expressively hint at the horrifying events to come.


Filed under art, Cinema

6 responses to “German Expressionism in film posters

  1. Caligari’s poster always strikes me. I just love triangles. I think I might have a Welles complex.

    • That Caligari poster has been my laptop wallpaper for the past few months. Such a strangely beautiful empty room! And clearly, a Welles complex is the best kind of complex to have. (My middle name is Orson; woot.)

  2. I love the Golem poster and the Faust one makes me chuckle – that may be my favorite Murnau film, but the drawing makes it look so hokey!

    • I agree with you as far as the false impression goes – Jannings’ devil is really nothing like the leering, lusting figure from the poster. But I still love the poster, if only for its near-symmetry, the way “FAUST” is written, and the way vampire-Mephisto’s cape becomes the background.

      For what it’s worth, my favorite’s Sunrise. But man, Murnau sure was on a winning streak throughout, oh, his entire decade-long filmmaking career, wasn’t he?

      (Fun fact: Yours was the 600th comment on Pussy Goes Grrr!)

  3. Andrew

    The international posters for the Black Swan have a nice German expressionist touch to them.

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