“Rocket Tarzan”


This is a fascinating image – to me at any rate – what with my obsession for robots and old Sci-Fi movies. There is very little available information on the film it is advertising other than that it may have another title altogether and that this was just a bit of clever marketing to gain attention, which it certainly succeeds in doing – I don’t think I have ever seen such an intriguing collision of two such vastly different ideas as in “Rocket” & “Tarzan”, and it reveals all sorts of possibilities.

I distinctly remember accompanying my mum on a visit to a local grocers in Southall, West London – Pritam Singh’s tiny grocers (one of the first, probably “the” first Asian grocer in the area), located adjacent to the railway bridge on South Road, had a basement for storing dry goods like rice and chapatti flour, and these were hauled up by a block and tackle contraption in the ceiling of the ground floor shop when anyone needed them – quite “old world”, it seemed to me, even at the time, but fascinating to watch in progress.

A film poster had been stuck on the inside of the shop window to face the street – it was of a rather ominous looking robot holding a girl in its arms, striding purposefully across a bleak planetscape – a clunky robot – and to this day, until I spotted the above image, I had gradually convinced myself that the image had either been a dream or a misinterpretation of something else.

A cheap, one-sheet newsprint interpretation of a cinema poster image had been transformed into something which had it’s own mysterious character due to a journeyman artist tracing or re-drawing, rather cack-handedly, the details of a more sophisticated original, and printing in one or two colours resulted in something approaching Communist Era Soviet poster art – I wish I could find it, but I doubt if I ever will since it was basically disposable fly-posting.

Seeing the classic “Forbidden Planet”much later, and its’ iconic poster art, which this is so clearly inspired by, I thought it might have been a poster for that film that I had seen and which left such an impression on me – both posters evoke the essential mysterious otherworldliness of 50’s SciFi fantasy.

Ravi Swami 2010