Lights Out in Europe
Image Credit: MOMA

UK Premiere: Lights Out In Europe

classified 15

Cinema Rediscovered 2017


Please note: This was screened in July 2017

Herbert Kline
Fredric March
63 mins, 1940, USA

"The most intelligent use to which the camera has yet been put" - John Ford

Rarely seen since its initial 1940 release; Herbert Kline’s timely documentary traces the final months of an uneasy peace in 1939 and records a Europe on the brink of total war.

Unlike many other documentaries made at the time, Kline’s incredible directing highlights the real people of the cities of London, Danzig and Warsaw and rarely mentions the international leaders involved in the summer of 1939. If anything, this beautifully shot film is about the people whose lives are about to change forever.

On his first professional assignment as a cameraman, a young Douglas Slocombe found himself accompanying director Kline to the Free City of Danzig and then onto the Polish border. While there, the two men began to realise the Nazis’ had begun their invasion of the country. The pair joined the mass of refugees fleeing the invading forces, filming what they could along the way and capturing some of the most impressive and unique images ever to be filmed of the Second World War.

Digitally restored by The Museum of Modern Art, New York from the only surviving print of the original full length version, Lights Out in Europe is a forgotten masterpiece of documentary wartime filmmaking and the first adventure for the great cinematographer, Douglas Slocombe.