This is the Polish poster for the movie, created by Jan Lenica, and is a fantastic example of how Polish graphic designers and artists approached the idea of devising movie posters. The usual conventions of the movie poster were able to be ignored, or subverted, the projects being sanctioned by the state and the Polish film industry as a whole. This gave rise to an incredible period of creativity, where the poster became elevated from traditional merchandising tool to (often) complex work of art.
Here, the potent “triangle” of Roman Polanski’s psychological drama is represented by three equally potent depictions of the characters played by (from left) Lionel Stander, Donald Pleasance and Françoise Dorléac. Stander is the brute, with both fists clenched and a gun pointed at Pleasance, his open mouth signifying anger and savagery. Pleasance is the mild-mannered, almost blank-faced intellectual, his spectacles and slight frame at odds with Stander’s solid, brutish stance. And then there’s Dorléac, her figure distorted and emphasised at the same time, facing the two men, her interest in both of them quite evident. It’s an odd variation on the police line up, and yet tells us everything we need to know about the dynamic surrounding the trio. There’s also the heart, eye-catching and red in the middle of Pleasance’s chest, a symbol of the love Pleasance and Dorléac have for each other (and this despite the abusive games they play).
The title is given due prominence, the letters seemingly cut out from a magazine or newspaper, and looking like badly cut jigsaw pieces; such an approach reinforces the fractured nature of the relationships, as well as the movie’s frequent shifts in tone. And the principal cast have their names seemingly dropped into place rather than carefully arranged, this haphazard orientation again underlining the off-kilter essence of the movie. It all adds up to a wonderful “companion piece” to the movie itself, a startling, original, captivating poster that draws the attention and doesn’t let go.