Make 100: Rare Silent Film Poster Series - OPIUM (1919)

Posted on June 23 2018

Opium Silent Film Poster 1919 Limited Edition Fine Art Print Century Guild

The third fine art print in our Make 100 Rare Silent Film Poster series, OPIUM is a deluxe edition of 100 museum-quality prints created directly from the only known surviving copy of the rare and iconic 1919 silent film poster.

Opium 1919 Silent Film Edition Print Century Guild Museum Permanent Collection Original Posters

In 1919, artist Theo Matejko created this lithograph for Robert Reinert's silent film OPIUM (starring Conrad Veidt, Werner Krauss, Friedrich Kuhne, Sybill Morel, and Eduard von Winterstein). The image is a masterpiece of German Weimar decadence!

The original film poster measures an astonishing 4 x 6 feet, and while hundreds may have been printed, they were pasted onto walls to advertise the film; today, only a single copy is known to have survived.

Original Opium 1919 Silent Film Poster Century Guild Museum Permanent Collection

This project is our opportunity to reproduce the dynamic, sensual motion of the rare and iconic 1919 poster in a fine, large-format limited extremely edition museum print.

  • Limited edition of 100 
  • Printed from a high resolution file created from the only original poster from 1919 known to exist 
  • Large 20" x 29" poster on heavyweight gloss paper 
  • Blind stamped with the Century Guild emblem 

About the film

The subtle, dream-like hallucinations of opium achieved infamy as an intoxicant well before Robert Reinert's silent film Opium - Homer and Shakespeare romanticized the drug in verse; Keats, De Quincey, Freud, and Coleridge were addicts, and Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein under its influence.

To combat civil unrest in war-decimated Germany at the end of World War I, the Council of Peoples Commissioners abolished the military censorship instigated at the outset of the Great War. Film studios took advantage of this new freedom, and there was a sudden increase in "Aufklarungsfilme" (enlightenment films) pretending to be concerned with social welfare.

The film Opium sold out for three solid weeks, proving that the public's ravenous pursuit of titillation and stimulation was not unlike the starved condition of an emaciated opium addict. In the film, addiction, murder, infidelity, and sexual abandon plague a European doctor's quest to use the medical benefits of opium without all the messy side effects.

Unsurprisingly, after a year of horrific shock films and thinly veiled pornography played to thoroughly attentive audiences throughout all the major theaters in Germany, the government stepped back in to firmly reinstate censorship in May of 1920.

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