Franciszka and Stefan in their studio in Paris, 1938
The writer-painter couple worked together on seminal films in the history of Polish animation, including The Eye and the Ear, completed in 1945.
Stefan and Franciszka Themerson received acclaim for their film Europa (1930–31), based on the futuristic poem by Anatol Stern as illustrated by Mieczysław Szczuka. The film's dynamic collage montage, constructivist form, and its Dadaist and surrealist iconoclasm run counter to syntactic rules by which cinematic language functioned at the time.
Moment Musical (1933), advertising a leather-goods manufacturer, was hailed as the most beautiful Polish film in terms of visuals and sound. The Adventure of a Good Citizen (1937), with music by Stefan Kisielewski, is an irrational humoresque - according to the film's subtitle - filled with absurd events of two men carrying a wardrobe. At the beginning, the line "The sky won't fall in if you walk backwards!" is overheard, and starts the absurdity rolling.
In 1935, the Themersons founded the Film-Makers Co-op, with members including Janina and Eugeniusz Cękalski, Aleksander Ford, Wanda Jakubowska, Witold Lutosławski, Stanisław Wohl, Jerzy Zarzycki and Kazimierz Haltrecht. In 1937, the Co-op published a journal f.a. (Film Artystyczny) in Polish, French and English, that followed rules of the 'new typography.' In 1938, they emigrated to Paris.
During the Second World War, Stefan wrote a novel, Professor Mmaa's Lecture, along with the poetry collections Szkice w ciemnościach / Sketches in Darkness and Dno nieba / Bottom of the Sky. Beginning 1942, he resumed making films with his wife in London. Calling Mr. Smith shows the average British citizen the truth about Nazi war crimes. The Eye and The Ear is shot based on a precise score - as Zbigniew Rybczyński's Oscar winner Tango would be almost 40 years later - and analyzes four songs that Karol Szymanowski composed to the Julian Tuwim poem Słopiewnie.
Themerson's prose varies by genre. In the 1930s, he wrote children's books that are among the classics Polish children's literature. After the Second World War, he published novels, short stories, essays, poetic prose and philosophical short stories. His use of language transcends genre by weaving visual elements into the tissue of the text and evoking audio associations.
His The Urge To Create Visions (1937) is the most important theoretical text on avant-garde film to be published in interwar Poland. In 1983, Gaberbocchus + De Harmonie, (Amsterdam) published the book's expanded and illustrated version in English.