Die Legende von Paul und Paula movie poster
Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul and Paula) is one of the best-known films produced in East Germany. It was first screened on March 29, 1973 – fifty years ago on this day. Written by Ulrich Plenzdorf and directed by Heiner Carow, it tells the unconventional love story of Paul (Winfried Glatzeder) and Paula (Angelica Domröse). Disliked by the party leadership for its political overtones, the film almost remained unreleased. More than three million people went to watch it – around a fifth of the GDR’s total population.
Klaus Vonderwerth designed the poster. At the bottom, he shows Paul and Paula in a happy moment, colorized in a pop art fashion. Above the couple, a dark cloud comprised of leery eyes, a snoopy ear, a scandalmongering mouth, and half a dozen of finger-pointing hands, contrasted in black and white. Some of the manicules were probably sourced from vintage metal or wood type.
While the credits are set in Akzidenz-Grotesk, the title is drawn by hand – but based on a typeface. It’s Sanditype, designed by Steven Bernstein in 1969. This face was exclusive to Photo-Lettering Inc., a typesetting company in New York. How did Vonderwerth in socialist East Berlin get his hands on a design that was only available in the epicenter of the capitalist world? I can offer one theory: a glyph set of Sanditype was reproduced in Modern Publicity, a design annual edited by Felix Gluck and published by Studio Vista in London. Chances are a copy made its way across the Iron Curtain, providing inspiration to Vonderwerth that was more fashionable than the offerings of East German’s state foundry, VEB Typoart.
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