Weekly Photo Challenge: Victory

Solidarity Gary Cooper

Victory for Democracy

On a visit to Warsaw I came across this interesting piece of street art – a huge canvas poster of Gary Cooper as Marshall Will Kane in the film High Noon.

I had no idea why until I looked it up later:

In 1989 there were some partially free elections in Poland and this was the official poster of the Solidarity movement and it shows Cooper armed not with a pistol in his right hand but with a folded ballot saying ‘Wybory’ (elections)  while the Solidarity logo is pinned to his vest above the sheriff’s badge. The message at the bottom of the poster reads: “W samo południe: 4 czerwca 1989,” which translates to “High Noon: 4 June 1989.”

Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa  explained it later:

“It was a simple but effective gimmick that at the time was misunderstood by the Communists. They tried to ridicule the freedom movement in Poland as an invention of the ‘Wild’ West, especially the U.S. But the poster had the opposite impact: Cowboys had become a powerful symbol for Poles. Cowboys fight for justice, fight against evil, and fight for freedom. ”

Victory?  In High Noon Will Kane kills the bad guys in a shoot out, in 1953 Gary Cooper won the Best Actor Oscar for his part in the film and in 1990 Lech Wałęsa became President of Poland.

Read the full story…

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8 responses to “Weekly Photo Challenge: Victory

  1. Oh man that poster brings unsettling memories for me: the toughness and danger in “fighting” communism for all those who wanted freedom

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    • It was a brilliant campaign don’t you think. Are there any similar examples?

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      • It was brilliant, I remember it well and being so enthusiastic about it particular years before in 1971 Croatia tried to get more freedom and autonomy from communist Yugoslavia/Belgrade but paid a heavy price for its protests and demonstrations etc. What happened with Solidarity in Poland certainly gave wings to freedom lovers in Croatia (I was a student there in early seventies to late seventies so felt it all)

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  2. I remember it well. It showed everyone that the monolith of Communism did have a crack in the foundations after all. But I never actually saw the poster.

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  3. I remember this post Andrew. As our weather turns cold here the art of finding places to hide from it is back in full swing. Not too many castles one can just duck into I will admit.

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  4. Can’t think of a better symbol in this case! Nice little bit of ‘trivia’. 🙂

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