Walerian Borowczyk’s rarely seen medium-length feature, Letter from Paris (Brief von Paris, 1976) is available at MUBI from May 10. It was saved by Friends of Walerian Borowczyk, a non-profit association based in Paris, in co-operation with Fixafilm.
Born in Poland, Walerian Borowczyk (1923 – 2006) was a painter, sculptor and filmmaker who lived and worked in France. He is famous for his ground-breaking animations (Renaissance, Angels’ Games), award winning
short films (Govotte, Diptych) and scandalous features (Goto, Isle of Love, Immoral Tales, The Beast).
Filmed in 1976, Letter from Paris is an experimental portrait of Borowczyk’s adopted home. A documentary without narration or spoken dialogue, Letter from Paris is an effective montage statement on the attempts of people and flowers to survive in a city that seems ready to explode from an over-heated mixture of traffic and noise. Borowczyk photographed and edited Letter from Paris, assembled the sound montage and composed the melody that can be heard during the credits. It was commissioned by Eckart Stein, the
maverick programmer for Germany’s ZDF television station.
According to Borowczyk, “All stages of a film’s creation are in me at one and the same time. My temperament does not allow me to create only part of a work and then to entrust the rest to specialists. Cinema is not a synthetic art.”
“Letter from Paris is the purest distillation of Borowczyk’s paradoxical worldview – on the one hand, it is a lament for disappearing wildlife and culture, on the other it is fascinated by technological advances in
transport, engineering and industry.” – says Daniel Bird, co-founder of Friends of Walerian Borowczyk, a non-profit association based in Paris.
“It is a time capsule of Paris during the mid-seventies – it captures both the construction of Forum des Halles and the Pompidou Centre.” – sums up Abel Ségrétin, co-founder of Friends of Walerian Borowczyk and Borowczyk’s godson.
Originally shot on 16mm film, Letter from Paris was transferred to U-matic tape for its 1976 broadcast on the German television station ZDF. The digitised source material was upscaled by Fixafilm.
We previously worked with Friends of Walerian Borowczyk on restorations of Borowczyk’s Polish films, including Story of Sin (Dzieje grzechu, 1975) and his short films made in collaboration with Jan Lenica (Byl sobie raz, 1957; Nagrodzone uczucie, 1957; Dom, 1958 etc.).
Letter from Paris is available on MUBI from May 10, 2021, for all territories excluding German-speaking countries.