Artists translate movie hits into book covers for BFI Film Classics

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When the BFI and Bloomsbury decided to collaborate to revive the beloved Series of books on film classics, 19 artists were set to secure what is, for many, a dream commission from Bloomsbury lead designer Lou Dugdale: to transform the essence of an iconic film into a captivating cover.

The books are written by critics, novelists, poets and philosophers, offering analyzes of some of the most memorable works in cinema, from the French New Wave film Cléo de 5 à 7 to the precious animated film, Spirited Away. Elsewhere are books on Kubrick’s 2001 futuristic masterpiece: A Space Odyssey, Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, the classic fugitive drama Thelma & Louise, Hitchcock’s thriller The Birds, and Federico’s La Dolce Vita. Fellini.

The collection also includes a book on The Big Lebowski, with a cover created by Max Loeffler. “I tried to take the point of view of the Dude himself. He’s immersed in this chaotic chain of weird events, all the while keeping his cool and sipping multiple White Russians throughout the film, ”Loeffler told CR. “That’s why I placed a jumble of objects from the film on the cover with the Dude still unfazed.”

Above: Cover of The Birds by Nick Morley. Here: The cover of Big Lebowski by Max Loeffler
BFI cinema classics
Pandora’s Box Cover by Federica Masini

For Pandora’s Box, Berlin artist Federica Masini had the opportunity to portray one of her favorite movie characters, Lou Lou. Opting for his usual choice of watercolor, Masini wanted to create an “evanescent effect”, as if the characters “reappear from the past or were about to disappear from the present”, and valued Lou Lou’s “elusive” nature.

New York artist Yuko Shimizu created the book cover on the famous Japanese period film Sanshō Dayū, recreating a central image of the film while enhancing elements, such as the highlighting of bamboo and the introduction of the colour. “Adding color to a black and white film was a challenge,” Shimizu told CR. “I imagined the kimono as feminine but dusty pink. I kept most of the colors very dull and subdued, so it wouldn’t interfere with the colors the audience was filling in their heads while watching the movie.

BFI cinema classics
Cover of Sanshō Dayū by Yuko Shimizu
BFI cinema classics
Cover of Touch of Evil by Julia Soboleva

Meanwhile, Julia Soboleva’s multimedia cover for Richard Deming’s book on Touch of Evil remains distinctly monochrome and “sunless”. “The hypnotic world Orson Welles created in Touch of Evil is full of dark alleys and dodgy hotel rooms. It’s suffocating, claustrophobic and shadowy, ”says Soboleva.

Inspired by a scene in which corrupt police captain Hank Quinlan, played by Welles, crushes a pigeon egg, she portrayed her eyes as “empty,” where “the only light we can see there is a menacing reflection of the ball-shaped object (the pigeon’s egg) that he is holding in his hand. And as we know, it will be destroyed by him in an instant and the light will go out.

BFI Film Classics released by Bloomsbury is available now; bloomsbury.com


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