The Act of Seeing

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Inside Ursula poster art from The Act of Seeing

The Act of Seeing
By Nicolas Winding Refn and Alan Jones
FAB Press
324pp £60

FAB Press have just launched a lavishly produced book of American film posters put together by Nicolas Winding Refn and Alan Jones, which is due to be published on 5 October 2015. Although it includes some well-known titles (such as Snuff), most of the films are so obscure that Alan Jones said at the book launch at the BFI that he had only seen about a quarter of them. A collection of beautiful, inventive designs that enticingly accompany exploitation titles such as The X-Rated Supermarket, Obscene House, The Nest of the Cuckoo Bird or The Abnormal Female, it is both a fascinating time capsule and a record of mostly forgotten films.

The Act of Seeing comes with an exclusive one-sheet style movie poster signed by Nicolas Winding Refn for everyone who buys direct from FAB Press.

Below is an extract from the book’s introduction by Nicolas Winding Refn.

Some years ago I purchased a collection of American film posters from author Jimmy McDonough, who had crawled through all the infamous Times Square cinemas back when that entire area was a no-go zone for most people. He had literally acquired the one-sheets (as this common display format is termed) by surreptitiously unpinning them from the walls, taking them out of dirty glass front-of-house frames or finding them lying around in dusty basements.

One day I had dinner with my friend and film journalist Alan Jones, who suggested I collate them into a book because so many of the titles included were barely even half-remembered, some totally forgotten, others completely obscure or talked about in hushed tones from the yearning point of view of never being seen.

THE ACT OF SEEING is a personal aesthetic expression, an album of poster images artfully put together to represent a fantasy world I can never now experience. The cultural environment these films were created in was long gone by the time my family moved to New York in 1978 when I was 8 years old. I was forbidden to walk down 42nd Street because my mother warned me it was such a dangerous and scary place. Of course that completely entranced me, mythologizing the place further, making it even more exciting and alluring. Now that I’m older, and have my hands on these unexpected posters, I’m able to envision what it must have been like to be a compulsive cinemagoer during this thrilling time, then enter that world vicariously in my over-active imagination through my prized items. It’s why I present these posters to you now, for you to do the same.