During the Soviet era, movie production in the Eastern Bloc countries and in the Soviet Union itself was heavily controlled and censored by the government. Filmmakers were expected to adhere to the principles and the portrayal of Soviet society and values in a positive light and downplayed or ignored negative aspects such as poverty and repression.
Movies were used as a powerful tool for propaganda to 'educate' the population, reinforce the state's ideology and promote the country’s culture, specially as a way to counter the influence of Western movies. Because of this, the film industry in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were closely tied to the state and the Communist Party. State-run film studios like Mosfilm (link opens in a new window), Riga Film Studio, Dovzhenko Film Studios and Odessa Film Studio were responsible for producing the majority of films, and filmmakers were required to submit scripts and finished films for approval by government censors before they could be released.
By the way: Comrade Kyiv wrote an extensive article about “the history of the Soviet propaganda poster”. The link opens in a new window. A really interesting read.
Drama, war and satire
However, despite the restrictions and censorship, Soviet and Eastern Bloc filmmakers were able to produce a wide range of films that covered a variety of genres and styles. Soviet movies in the 1950s and 60s were known for grand-scale dramas such as war films, while in the 1970s and 80s they produced movies that dealt with more personal and psychological issues.
Two renowned Eastern Bloc filmmakers like Andrzej Wajda (link opens in a new window) and Miloš Forman (link opens in a new window) worked under these conditions, and created powerful and memorable films, which were able to reach a broad audience, despite the censorship. Andrzej Wajda is best known for his war film trilogy "A generation", "Kanal" and "Ashes and Diamonds" and Miloš Forman for "The Firemen's Ball" (a film satirizing the communist system).
A central place in society
Additionally, behind the iron curtain, the film industry had a more central place in society than in the west. The Soviet Union had a vast network of movie theaters and film clubs, making movies widely accessible to the population, hence the movies were a major form of entertainment and cultural expression, and the population was a regular spectator of the movies. Movie posters were used to promote films and to convey the political and ideological message of the state.
During the Soviet era, movie posters were (of course) produced by state-run studios, and their designs were controlled by the government to ensure that they promoted the ideals of communism. Posters typically featured bold, colorful imagery, and simplified forms and shapes. They often depicted heroic Soviet soldiers, workers and peasants, in patriotic and heroic scenarios, playing their role in the construction of the socialist society.
Artistic creativity in Eastern Bloc movie posters
In the Eastern Bloc countries, posters were also heavily controlled by the state and followed similar aesthetic guidelines. They often featured imagery that promoted socialist values and ideology, and conveyed the message of the state's efforts to build a better society.
However, despite the strict controls on poster design, many Eastern Bloc and Soviet posters were still able to convey a sense of artistic creativity. Some of the posters from this era featured striking, iconic imagery and powerful, dynamic compositions that helped to make them memorable and effective.
Collectors are looking for original vintage movie posters from the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc
Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, movie posters from this era are still valued by collectors, as they provide a fascinating glimpse into the history and culture of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc countries during this time.
We've got some posters from the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries right here! Have a look at our movie poster collection.