BG -- Theater and Performing Arts

Filmregisseure: Biographien, Werkbeschreibungen, Filmographien [Film Directors: Biographies, Productions, Filmographies]. Ed. Thomas Koebner. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1999. 776 p. ill. 22 cm. ISBN 3-15-010455-6: DM 68.00 [00-1/4-255]

Lexikon Regisseure und Kameraleute [Encyclopedia of Film Directors and Camera Operators]. Ed. Hans-Michael Bock in cooperation with CineGraph, Hamburgisches Centrum für Filmforschung. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1999. 525 p. 22 cm. (rororo, 60651: Sachbuch). ISBN 3-499-60651-8: DM 26.90 [00-1/4-256]

The title of the first work above does not indicate its character as a reference work, but in the foreword Koebner calls his book an encyclopedia, so it is fair to consider the completeness and representativeness of the entries. Koebner notes the inclusion of some younger directors along with more established notables. A Eurocentric perspective is maintained throughout. Criticism can quickly be focused on the selection of film directors, especially when only 198 are covered, although other film reference works include up to 13,000 international directors. A quick review of German directors alone identifies a number with international repute missing here. Silent film directors are given shorter shrift than more recent ones. A significantly higher number of biographies (even retaining a Eurocentric focus, it could easily be over 300), with the inclusion of more international and especially American perspectives, would have been welcome in this volume to reflect the reality of the contemporary film industry.

The biographical articles themselves make a much more positive impression, offering stimulating insights and evaluations, followed by well-chosen bibliographies. The filmographies list only titles and years of the more important movies. Unfortunately, an overall index of film titles and names of people mentioned in the articles is lacking. A promising conceptual base has been started here; the work should be enlarged in later editions to include more directors.

In conjunction with his Lexikon Filmschauspieler international [International Encyclopedia of Movie Actors], Hans-Michael Bock and his CineGraph team present a biographical encyclopedia of film directors and camera operators. This combination is a novelty among film encyclopedias, as even more extensive reference works generally offer only token mention of camera operators. On closer examination, however, it becomes obvious that only a few of the listed artists work solely with the camera; the majority are also film directors. The proportion of those who are only camera operators is under 10 percent of the 500 names. Each of the unsigned articles includes biographical information and film titles; unfortunately, relevant bibliographic literature is rarely offered. The articles are concise, outlining the highpoints of the artist's life and attempting to characterize the films with a few words. The filmographies consist only of titles, title variants, and production years. As with Koebner's work, there is no overall index of film titles. The selection is international with a slight preference for German artists, while a distinct accent is also set on East European, Asiatic, and African directors. The number of entries seems sufficient for an introductory film encyclopedia in German (compare the criticism of Koebner's volume above), though an index and consistent bibliographic entries are lacking. The paperback book's three-column layout makes the reading somewhat difficult. The thoroughness of coverage for each individual cannot be compared with that of Filmregisseure, which is twice as large despite its meager number of entries. The inclusion of camera operators in the title of Bock's encyclopedia serves mainly to set it apart from other film reference works. [wub/rdh]

Lexikon der deutschen Film- und TV-Stars [Encyclopedia of German Film and TV Stars]. Ed. Adolf Heinzlmeier and Berndt Schulz. Berlin: Lexikon-Imprint-Verlag, 2000. 416 p. ill. 21 cm. ISBN 3-89602-229-6: DM 29.80 [00-1/4-257]

This encyclopedia is one of the most recent products of the exceedingly active lexicon division of Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, notable for some years for its very affordable books in the face of increasingly expensive titles from other publishers. The restriction of entries in this work to slightly more than 500 acting "stars" makes it difficult to judge the selection criteria: the foreword seems to be more hymnody than concreteness as it outlines the attempt to identify those who became "mirrors, instigators and role models of our century." In addition to film and television actors, some stage actors, cabaret performers, and TV talk show personalities are listed. "German" is understood in time and geography as the German Reich and the Federal Republic of Germany before and after unification. Articles encompass one to two pages. Lists of honors, secondary literature and film credits supplement the biographies and commentary for each actor. There are major stylistic differences between articles (serious commentary in one, journalistic slang in another; present tense formulation in one, past tense in another), attributable perhaps to the two different editors who coordinated the structure of the articles but not their style. The final impression is ambiguous: the encyclopedia fills information needs on a popular level about well-known, and also some forgotten yet deserving, actors, but a final revision to establish uniformity and a common stylistic tone would have done a world of good. [wub/rdh]

Lexikon der DDR-Stars: Schauspieler aus Film und Fernsehen; mit zahlreichen Fotos sowie Porträtkarikaturen von Harald Kretzschmar [Encyclopedia of GDR Stars: Actors from Film and Television; With Numerous Photos, as well as Caricature Sketches by Harald Kretzschmar]. Ed. F.-B. Habel and Volker Wachter. Berlin: Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 1999. 375 p. ill. 21cm. ISBN 3-89602-304-7: DM 29.80 [00-1/4-258]

Publications of Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf often accentuate East German themes. Two relevant encyclopedias on rock music (see RREA 6:206 below) and everyday life (see RREA 6:296 below) in the GDR differentiate themselves, as does this one, in a positive way from many of the other encyclopedias published by Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf's Lexikon-Imprint-Verlag, for which there are often better alternatives. The editors of this reference work are a film journalist and an archivist: the large private archive of the latter supplied most of the material for this nostalgically tuned publication. The unusual nature of the source made possible the inclusion of actors with whom even the most rabid GDR viewers may not be acquainted, and constitutes the unique value of this documentation. Many of the biographies show that the boundaries between East and West were somewhat porous in the acting arena, as they note appearances in the Federal Republic and other Western countries (not to mention those actors who moved to the West). The end of the GDR, in many cases, did not mean the end of an actor's professional life. The short biographies sketch out an individual's career, as well as friendships and relationships with colleagues, and list important productions. Stage activities are not included, even though they existed in many instances. It is clear that the editors took the trouble to check biographical details through research and personal inquiries, as the exact birth and (if appropriate) death dates are given in most cases, no mean accomplishment in a profession that likes to obscure any evidences of age. [sh/rdh]

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