Review: The Art of John Alvin

AlvinBy Andrea Alvin

Titan Books, out now

A history of the film-connected work of John Alvin.

To call this book a collection of film posters would be seriously underestimating it. Although some of John Alvin’s finest work is reproduced here, there is so much more to the book: Andrea Alvin (and occasionally some of her husband’s former colleagues) gives background to the pieces, often explaining the many changes that were suggested to and/or enforced on him by various other parties. Often sketches showing the original/alternate versions are provided and you can judge for yourself whether the interference was warranted.

As noted in the introduction by Jeffrey Katzenberg, Alvin’s art helped to sell what were often seen as “kid’s movies” to a wider audience – Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King in particular. There are some gorgeous variants of familiar posters too – such as E.T. (and the identity of the human hand reaching up is revealed) and Blade Runner – as well as posters from projects that never made it, such as the droids from Star Wars done up as one-man bands.

It’s one of those books that you’ll go through looking at the art first, and then sit down to read the text; both are fascinating, and you have to hope that some of the other classic movie poster illustrators can be celebrated in similar fashion.

Verdict: Another stunning art book which will appeal to more than just cineastes. 9/10

Paul Simpson

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