Still from Calling Mr Smith

They made five short experimental films in Warsaw during the mid-1930s: Pharmacy, Europa, Moment musical, Short circuit, and The adventure of a good citizen, the only pre-war film to have survived the war. During the 1940s, in London, they made two more films. Calling Mr Smith (1943 ): a 10-minute anti-war film denouncing the destruction of Polish national culture under the Nazis.The Eye and the Ear (1944-45): a translation of sound into images based on 4 songs by Szymanowski.

The experimental techniques of their films were concerned with moving lights and shadows on objects. They evolved out of the Themersons' improvisations with the photogram, 1928-35. Most of the images were made on an improvised 'trick-table' devised by Stefan Themerson. He placed various objects on a piece of translucent paper over a sheet of glass. The lights were above, and he photographed the images from below (frame by frame).


Apteka (Pharmacy) photograms in motion, b/w, silent, 35 mm, 3 minutes, Warsaw, 1930

Europa, based on Anatol Stern's futurist poem 'Europa', b/w, silent, 35 mm, 15 minutes, Warsaw, 1931/32

Drobiazg Melodyjny (Moment musical), photograms in unison with music by Ravel, b/w, sound, 35 mm, 3 minutes, 1933

Zwarcie (Short circuit), music by Witold Lutoslawski, b/w, sound, 35 mm, 10 minutes, Warsaw, 1935

Przygoda Czlowieka Poczciwego (The Adventure of a Good Citizen), music by Stefan Kisielewski, b/w, sound, 35 mm, 10 minutes, Warsaw, 1937

Calling Mr. Smith, music: Bach, Szymanowski and a distorted Horst Wessel Lied, Dufay-colour, sound, 35 mm, 10 minutes, London, 1943

The Eye & The Ear, 4 songs by Karol Szymanowski, b/w, sound, 35 mm, 10 minutes, London, 1944/45

Stefan Themerson's book Urge to create visions is about early cinema. The first issue of PIX magazine, (I. Halberstadt, ed. Pix 1) London, 1993/94 (ISBN 0851 170 0152) explores the work of the Themersons in film.

Stefan Themerson's trick-table for making photograms
Sequence from
The Eye and The Ear.

Five frames from Moment musical, 1933

Sequence from
The Adventure of a Good Citizen