By Pauline van Mourik Broekman, 10 September 1997

Pauline van Mourik Broekman on The Reelposter Gallery

While Sojourner Truth and Pathfinder find their way onto every spare bit of advertising space on the web, it must surely be only a matter of weeks before contracts for a docu-drama on their histories are exchanged. For some, the marriage of fiction and history has already become too close. Disney subjects age-old fairy tales to the iron hand of saccharine-control, knitting in new characters and happy endings wherever its Zentral Komitee sees fit, but more subtle is the process by which historical narratives are rewritten in film, TV and the web. Relationships between history and narrative have never been 'clean' in the manner which fin-de-millennium Jeremiahs weary of our 'irrationalism' suggest, but infotainment, docu-dramas and the fact/fiction universe of the web are forging their links ever stronger.

The Reelposter Gallery, soon to launch an exhibition and book about film posters of the 1960s is committing itself to the history of the not so distant past, having decided these once prosaic advertising images represent a severely neglected art form. Ignoring the glaringly obvious investment opportunity such a standardised pictorial 'genre' represents, these items are more interesting for the way they encapsulate both the subject represented and the historical context in which the films were being marketed. Retrospectively decoding them is not difficult; more interesting is imagining what our contemporary film poster designs might say about our cultures in the future.

Pictured below is a prime example. Paradise at Five Dollars became ACID, Delirio dei Sensi has became your typical trip-vortex with strangely bourgeois sexual undertones. It's innerspace on dry Martini's - not so much a radical rewiring of the body and brain as boudoir sex in technicolour. Dragged over from the 60s, its undertones of sexual and social liberation seem fey to say the least.

Constance Penley, a film historian who recently spoke at the ICA in London, is interested in how the fictions of television and film overlap with those generated by science. Her book, NASA/TREK investigates a deep and historical entanglement. The book (reviewed on page 17 by Tom McCarthy) begs the question whether our unceasing enthusiasm to leave this earth - in ships and in films - is as much to do with creating a space for thoughts on socio-sexual experimentation as it is to do with hard science.

Pauline van mourik Broekman <pauline AT>

Film Posters of the Sixties - The Essential Movies of the Decade is published by Aurum Press. Exhibition runs from 23 September.Reelposter Gallery, 1st floor22 Great Marlborough StreetLondon W1V 1AFT: 0171 734 4303