by Franciszka THEMERSON
& Stefan THEMERSON
1931 / 35mm / b&w / sound / 1S / 12' 00
EUROPA was the first film by Polish pioneers Stefan and Franciszka Themerson, believed lost for over 70 years, this rediscovered masterpiece stands as one of the great works of twentieth century European avant-garde filmmaking. In 1925, the magazine Reflektor published Anatol Stern’s futurist poem Europa. This is where the poem first appeared. Subsequently it was republished in other magazines, but in 1929 it became a book designed by two avant-garde artists Mieczysław Szczuka and Teresa Żarnower. The content found its reflection in the design. The poem was about social crisis, loss of moral equity, with Europe at the edge of a precipice. Stern described it: ‘my dry chronicle devoted to the tragedy, the misery, the wisdom and the wickedness of Europe’. Stefan and Franciszka Themerson, inspired by the poem made it into a film, translating the words into moving images with photograms and collages. The film was made in Warsaw in 1931/32, in the Themersons' bedroom on ulica Królewska. It was as emotive on screen as the poem was on the pages of the book. EUROPA was the first film made by the Themersons. When they moved to Paris in 1938 to continue their work there, they took EUROPA, and their other films with them. In 1940, about six months after the World War II broke out, Stefan Themerson deposited their five films at the Vitfer Film Laboratory in Paris, and that was from where the Nazis took them. The last time that EUROPA had been screened was in Poland during the early 1930s. In 2019 the film was rediscovered by the Pilecki Institute in the Bundesarchiv, Berlin and subsequently restored by Fixafilm, Warsaw and a newly commissioned soundtrack was composed by Lodewijk Muns.