Avid collector shares his love of movie posters

MOVIE buffs have a unique opportunity in Woking to view a selection of original posters owned by one of the film art community’s most ardent collectors.

Henry Coleman (right) with Nova Cinema projectionist Gary and posters for three famous films. Pictures by Anthony Gurr

Henry Coleman has loaned 28 of his posters for display in the recently opened Nova Cinema in the town centre.

They are from his collection of more than 600 items, accumulated since he was a boy living in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Two vintage James Bond film posters decorate the bar at Nova Cinema

The posters in a temporary show in the cinema include those promoting Star Wars (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark, Zulu, Titanic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Cabaret, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Jaws, For a Few Dollars More, The Godfather and Annie Hall.

They are displayed in a variety of areas around the cinema, in an exhibition that came out of a casual conversation between the cinema management and Henry at Woking’s Party in the Park two years ago.

The show, along with the opening of the cinema, was put on hold because of the pandemic.

“This is just a small exhibition for people in and around Woking,” said Henry, who came to live in the town in 2006. “I’m very pleased with the initial reaction to the exhibition and I’ve enjoyed giving a few people a personal tour and discussing the history of the posters with them.”

A poster for the French version of the 1965 spaghetti western For a Few Dollars More – …et Pour Quelques Dollars de Plus

His family, which was originally from the London area, moved to South Africa when he was a boy. He returned to the UK in 1984, aged 19, with an ambition to enter film school. Instead, he got a job with the British Board of Film Classification.

“It was my dream job,” said Henry. “I was paid to watch movies as a technical manager. I had to check for cuts and make sure they were given the right certification ahead of distribution in the UK.”

Today, he has continued to work on the technical side of film distribution and works for a London-based company that is similar to Netflix, providing a streaming service for the Middle East. He is also due to launch The Art of Film website for movie poster collectors around the world next month.

Henry started his collection of posters and film memorabilia when was about 13. “I became friends with my local cinema managers and video shop owners in the 1980s,” he added. “They used to give me film and video posters once the run was over.

“Anything film related that was destined for the bin would inevitably land up in my bedroom as a teenager. By the time I was in my mid-teens, I had no wall space or even ceiling space left.

Henry Coleman’s copy of the poster for the 50th anniversary re-re-release of James Dean’s Rebel Without a Cause

He attributes three main reasons for his passion: “Firstly, I love the artwork that encapsulates the film. As soon as you look at a specific poster, the film comes flooding back to you.

“Secondly, a lot of classic titles are valuable or are becoming more valuable over time, so they are investment pieces as well as works of art. And thirdly, I just love looking at them framed up on my walls.”

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