Europe after the Rain, Part One
Surrealism and Dada from their Beginnings
This feature-length film examines the movements of Dada and Surrealism, and follows the development of their main exponents, Duchamp, Tzara, Arp, Ernst, Schwitters, Breton and Dali, concentrating on the contradictions and ambivalences between their innovatory techniques and philosophies and their desire to transform the world. The film uses contemporary newsreels, some dramatization and detailed accounts of the artists' work to show how, building on the nihilism and anti-aestheticism of Dada and the collage and Constructivist aspects of Cubism, the Surrealists attempted to express the tradition of thought freed from moral preoccupation. Beginning with the birth of Dada in Zürich, against the background of the First World War, the film examines the different forms the movement assumed in Berlin, New York and Paris. Following the collapse of Dada, André Breton more or less invented Surrealism, which developed in two phases: the exploration of pure fantasy via found objects and frottages, and the depiction of irrationality - the imaginary landscapes of Yves Tanguy or Salvador Dali, or Max Ernst's collages from nineteenth-century illustrations.
Europe After the Rain, Part Two
Surrealism and Dada to the 1960s
This film questions the complex relationship between the Surrealist enterprise, in its many forms, and politics, particularly in the light of the rise of Fascism. It charts the rift between those members who joined the Resistance and those who went to America, and considers Breton's unsuccessful attempt to join the Communist Party, the anti-Nazi photomontages of John Heartfield, and Dali's obsession with the image of Hitler as `the object of my delirium.' The film also explores the influences of Surrealism on the art world and on the mass media. It ends with an interview with Duchamp in the 1960s, discussing the impact of the movement, its failures and successes.