Oh What A Lovely War

Artist: Brian Sanders
Format: UK Quad (30"x 40")
Condition: Very Good
Year: 1969


Featuring a large ensemble cast of well-respected thespians and based on the hugely successful stage musical of the same name, “Oh! What a Lovely War” was Richard Attenborough’s first film as director and was one of the most ambitious British productions of the 1960s. Released in 1969, the film is a darkly-satirical and somewhat surreal take on World War 1, complete with elaborate sets, costumes and musical numbers which has helped to make it one of the better-known anti-war films from the period.

The anti-war sentiment is conveyed perfectly in this UK Quad poster, illustrated by Brian Sanders from a design by John Billingham (See “British Film Posters” by Sim Branaghan 2006), The poster cleverly spoofs both the Union Jack as well as the famous ‘Lord Kitchener Wants You’ recruitment imagery from 1914. Interwoven in the red and blue of the flag are images of jovial soldiers and upper class festivities, helping to cement the film’s attack on the British top-brass of the military and the establishment during the war. The ‘Lord Kitchener Wants You’ design (image courtesy of wikipedia.org) was created by Alfred Leete .  The Leete design was subsequently adopted & revised for the recruitment campaign in America.

A more sombre presentation of the film and its message can be found in one of the film’s US 1-Sheet designs (image courtesy of impawards.com). The poster references the film’s final powerful scene where the camera pans over thousands of soldier’s graves placed over a luscious green, hilly landscape. Although some satirical qualities are retained in the design; the bold and lively red colouring of the film’s title purposefully clashes with the restrained and solemn imagery above it, the poster is no doubt more concerned with demonstrating the film’s core anti-war message concerning the overwhelming loss of life in war. The more artistically creative Quad poster is perhaps better suited to displaying the film’s extravagant, mocking and darkly humorous approach in making the same point.


The poster has been linen-backed.