Luigi Martinati’s realist heroes

Luigi Martinati, la pattuglia dei senza paura

“Cinema is a naked woman and a man with a gun”: director Dino Risi’s stunning aphorism was effectively translated by Luigi Martinati’s (1893-1983) cinema posters, which often feature armed men and beautiful (albeit not naked) women. The Florentine artist started to focus exclusively on cinema illustration in the mid-1940s, after working as a commercial artist advertising various products, in the field of tourism, and for political propaganda.

After the Second World War, Martinati co-founded BCM with other two creative designers, Anselmo Ballester and Alfredo Capitani; the studio produced many posters, and became famous for its “realist” style.

Indeed, Martinati’s heroes are believable: they never have overblown facial expressions. “If a guy points a gun at you,” Humphrey Bogart once said, “the audience knows you’re afraid. You don’t have to make faces”.

Martinati’s heroes look real, and it doesn’t matter if they are not: as John Wayne said, “You shouldn’t go to the movies unless you believe in heroes”.

May 8, 2014