23 September 2013

3 Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman

What happens when Hollywood glamour and post war neo-realist Italy meet? That was the question which directed the design decisions on this one. The Hollywood aesthetic of the late 1940s and early 50s is well known and easily recognized --and for anyone who appreciates Italian film publicity of that era, it's understood how much of that aesthetic was borrowed, filtered and repurposed for their domestic market. The Italians typically illustrated, painted and hand-lettered the film posters of that era. Check out David Kehr's Italian Film Posters (The Museum of Modern Art) for some stellar examples. Criterion wasn't going that route for this one. The imagery for 3 Films By Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman would all be photographic.

Booklet Cover, back (left) and front (right).
Even though there are fewer examples of photographic Italian film publicity from that era, if you look hard enough you can find them. They're typically black and white, two-color affairs. The effect is often raw and immediate. Pretty much what one might expect to see from a war ravaged society with limited technology at it's disposal.

For this set I tried to evoke as much of that feeling as possible. Most all of the headers used throughout the packaging are hand-drawn --Journey to Italy being the exception.

Critertion was looking to see Bergman exclusively as the face of this package. Three portraits representing the three movies. This was an approach that we'd used to great effect on 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg. Yet for that set the portraits were all different and the typographic treatment was the same. This time around the formula flipped. It was also important too to stress the three locations in which these stories took place. There are certainly worse ways to spend weeks on end than staring at Ingrid Bergman's face but a designer's gotta do what a designer's gotta do!

Establishing the look of the slipcase cover would likely dictate the look of the individual film covers. Or so I first thought. The lettering on the cover is my adaption of a typeface I spotted on an Italian poster --advertising a rice product of all things!-- it was era appropriate and had the kind of idiosyncrasies I was looking for. The trouble was there were only about 6 letters. So I needed to extrapolate an entire alphabet and also cook up a lighter weight too. It felt like applying this style to all three covers was going to get repetitive so I set out to come up with letterforms that would make each title distinct.

More sample spreads from the booklet.

I'll be updating this post over the next several days, adding more imagery and writing more about the process behind the piece. So I hope you'll come back!


Clifford Jay said...

I saw 'Journey To Italy' recently and admire your designs for this series! I'm thrilled to learn you hand lettered the titles for the other two films. Your lettering is gorgeous and the whole package set the jewel of the movie! I can't wait to watch the other two.

F Ron Miller said...

Thanks Clifford!