Separated at Birth: Falling Man

The falling man motif is not a new idea. It derives from an event that served as the prelude to the Thirty Years War, known as The Defenestrations of Prague; the first in 1419 and the second in 1618, although the term “Defenestration of Prague” more refers to the latter historically more significant act of defiance when Roman Catholic officials in Bohemia closed Protestant churches, triggering resistance to Habsburg authority. Defenestration is when someone is bodily thrown out of a window. Protestant rebels threw their Catholic counterparts out a window. There was a lot of that going on in Eastern Europe at the time. Read about it here.

The image of the falling man has become iconic through the Mad Men opening title sequence, on the one hand, and tragic, owing to the horrific photos from the World Trade Center victims, on the other.

In addition to Mad Men‘s overt homages to Saul Bass’ Vertigo Poster, I found an even closer tie to Saul in this book jacket (below) for So Dies the Dreamer (cloth 1962, paper 1977), which borrows from even more Bass sources. The building recalls the titles for North By Northwest and the lettering echoes Vertigo‘s woodcut typographic style. The free falling man has always been a disturbing image (how many have had that dream?), made profoundly more so by this anonymous book jacket.

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