This is another episode of our ongoing series about the souvenirs we would recommend you buy in Prague. We have a different take on Prague souvenirs, though: instead of something that would shout "Prague", we recommend things that are not directly souvenirs per se; they are, rather, things we grew up with, things that really are a reflection on the country and on the times we live in or used to live in not that long ago. Today, we will suggest a souvenir for those who love movies. The filmmaking business in the Communist era did, to some extent, flourish, although it was heavily regulated. Instead of a competition between producers and production team, there were basically a few production centres in the Czech Republic producing movies subject to approval of regime censors. Some of the movies were genuinely good, especially the movies of the "new wave" of Czech cinema in the 1960s, while other movies were not that great, just like in any other country.
What was unique was the way filmmaking was funded in Communist Czechoslovakia. In addition to government funding, the Czech moviemaking business had another, perhaps surprising, source of income: sales of US and Western movies. You see, people craved Western things, including movies, and the Czech films importer, as a government-owned monopoly, could make good use of that. With no legal competition to speak of, the monopoly distributor could really dictate the terms on which the rights to the movies were bought to be shown in Czechoslovakia. And they were tough. The Czech importer would always offer a low, fixed sum, e.g. USD 20,000 for a movie, take it or leave it. And many Western producers decided to take it, simply because it was better than nothing. Therefore, the monopoly importer made incredible amounts of money from the ticket sales, having just paid a ridiculous amount for the rights. And this money was later used to fund production of new Czechoslovak movies.
However, there was one caveat: the movies did not come with their original posters. The Czech distributors thus had to make their own posters, very different from the originals displayed elsewhere, with some of them true pieces of modern art and graphic design. And that's our souvenir tip today: Terry Posters, a shop run by Union Film Ltd and the people behind the Aero and Svetozor, two art cinemas based in Prague, that sells these old, Communist posters. Mind you, these are not copies or reprints: these are the very originals, often with visible folds. That is why some of the posters shown in the online shop (yes, they do have an online shop, too) are not for sale: they only have one poster of that kind in their collection.
Therefore, we recommend that you visit the Svetozor art cinema (which is where the Terry Posters shop is located at), see a movie and buy a poster for a movie you love, but a poster with a clear twist.
Vodičkova 41, Prague 1
(as of June 2013): Mon to Fri 10-20, Sat 12-5
(The poster shown above: Twelve Angry Men, source)
Source of the featured picture (Critters)