Working for the Film Department of the Ministry of Information and Documentation of the Polish Government in London, Stefan and Franciszka Themerson produced a propaganda animation aimed at shaking the conscience of the British citizens. The eponymous Mr. Smith stands for an average Briton, who prefers to turn a blind eye on the atrocities committed by the Germans against the defeated nations for the sake of his own peace of mind.
The Themersons’ film consists in part of authentic war footage and strongly stresses the havoc wreaked in the culture of the occupied states, which came across as the more so outrageous that the Germans themselves boasted their outstanding figures like Goethe and Beethoven. The animation was produced on a photo manipulation table using slides prepared by hand. The images were accompanied by fragments of musical pieces by Chopin, Bach and Szymanowski, intertwined with Nazi songs (Horst-Wessel-Lied). Demonstrating a clear anti-Nazi edge, toned down by the British censors, the Themersons’ film met with a considerable interest on the part of the British public, though it was still regarded with much disbelief.
References: M. Giżycki, Awangarda wobec kina. Film w kręgu polskiej awangardy artystycznej dwudziestolecia międzywojennego, Warsaw 1996; Stefan i Franciszka Themerson. Poszukiwania wizualne, exhibition catalogue, Łódź 1981.
Source: 35 mm
© LUX and Themerson Archive
Ownership form: deposit