BG -- Theater and Performing Arts

Dictionnaire du théâtre [Theater Encyclopedia]. 2d ed. Paris: Encyclopaedia Universalis; Albin Michel, 2000. 923 p. 21 cm. (Les dictionnaires, Encyclopaedia universalis). ISBN 2-226-12097-1: EUR 25.92 [02-1-090]

The second edition of the Dictionnaire du théâtre, like the other lexicons in this series, is based on the texts of the prestigious French-language Encyclopaedia universalis. It is unchanged from its first edition of 1998. Judging from a random sampling, especially of the literature cited, the most recent material included in this work seems to date from the early 1990s. All countries and time periods are covered. The approximately 320 articles, written by 150 different authors, range from the very short to the very detailed. Molière, for example, receives 14 pages. A welcome feature is that, in addition to their translations into French, the original language editions of works by authors outside of France are noted, and foreign secondary literature is also cited. However, bibliographies are provided only for major authors. Besides playwrights, one finds articles about directors, actors, theater critics, and scholars of the theater. [sh/akb]

Theaterlexikon [Theater Handbook]. Manfred Brauneck. Ed. Gérard Schneilin. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt-Taschenbuch-Verlag. 19 cm. (Rowohlts Enzyklopädie, ...). [02-1-091]

Vol. 1. Begriffe und Epochen, Bühnen und Ensembles [Concepts and Periods, Theaters and Ensembles]. 4th rev. and expanded ed. 2001. 1,217 p. ill. (Rowohlts Enzyklopädie, 55644). ISBN 3-499-55644-8: EUR 19.90

The Rowohlt paperback Theaterlexikon, a handbook of world theater, first appeared in 1986; its third edition (1992) was reviewed in IFB 93-1/2-069. The current edition will appear in two volumes. Volume 1 has been expanded by 80 pages and about 15 new key terms. The “complete” revision of the previous text promised in the introduction seems in fact to be only minimal in nature, consisting mainly of updates to the biographical citations. The text of most articles remains unchanged. Volume 2 will cover people in the theater. One can safely assume that this is a response to a comparable work, the Theaterlexikon published by Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, where volume 1 (see RREA 5:157) provides articles about people, and volume 2 (1996) covers everything else. Both volumes of the latter work are now available on CD-ROM as Dtv-Lexikon Theater (Berlin, 2002). [sh/akb]

Das große Personenlexikon des Films: die Schauspieler, Regisseure, Kameraleute, Produzenten, Komponisten, Drehbuchautoren, Filmarchitekten, Ausstatter, Kostümbildner, Cutter, Tontechniker, Maskenbildner und Special-Effects-Designer des 20. Jahrhunderts [Comprehensive Encyclopedia of People in Film: Actors, Directors, Camera People, Producers, Composers, Script Writers, Set Designers, Set Decorators, Costume Designers, Editors, Sound Technicians, Makeup Artists, and Special Effects Designers of the 20th Century]. Kay Weniger. 8 vols. Berlin: Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2001. 5,547 p. 21 cm. ISBN 3-89602-340-3: EUR 260.00 [02-1-093]

This major lexical work of biographical film literature is noteworthy in the wake of numerous German and international biographical reference works about film in recent years. Kay Weniger’s new encyclopedia represents the sum of all previously published works. Its eight weighty volumes introduce 6,100 people in the international film industry, giving their life dates, describing and evaluating their works for theater, film and television, and citing those who collaborated artistically on the films. Weniger considers not only actors and directors, but also an extensive array of others associated with film, as listed in the work’s subtitle. Although his subtitle indicates that he limits himself to the 20th century, Weniger also includes a few pioneers of film and lists pre-1900 films in his filmography. His selections proceed from a German-language perspective, with a special commitment to exiled and murdered Jewish and anti-Nazi film artists. Overall, the work pays particular attention to German-language, European, and U.S. films and film artists. Weniger’s selections extend as close to the present as possible and include television series stars. No other recent publications can approach the comprehensiveness of Weniger’s work with its sheer quantity of names, breadth of film occupations covered, and copious articles and film listings.

Although Weniger discusses television in his biographical articles, his filmography is limited to cinema films. The listing of film titles almost amounts to an index, which may account, along with space considerations, for the lack of cross-references. Also lacking are references to further reading about the people discussed. An appendix contains a selected bibliography of film literature consulted by Weniger, but no specifically biographical literature. The function of the 80-page index in volume 8 is unclear. The biographical articles are listed in the order in which they appear, repeating information already given in each individual volume. Perhaps space could have been made here for references to biographical literature or for illustrations.

Weniger went to great lengths to investigate the life dates and places of his entries, thereby guaranteeing the reliability of his work. His entries begin with a short statement about the person, then proceed to a review of the person’s life, describing relationships with others and primary emphases in the person’s work, citing honors received, and evaluating the person’s work. In almost all cases, he concludes with a clear assessment of the person’s place in film history. Weniger states that supplements will be published on the Internet, but no website information is given.

Those who can afford the money and shelf space required to purchase and store this work will have at their disposal an almost endless source of information, a true treasure trove. [wub/rm]

Das grosse Lexikon der DDR-Stars: Schauspieler aus Film und Fernsehen: mit zahlreichen Porträtkarikaturen von Harald Kretzschmar [Comprehensive Encyclopedia of East German Stars: Actors from Film and Television: With Numerous Caricature Sketches by Harald Kretzschmar]. F.-B. Habel, [and Volker Wachter]. Rev. and expanded new ed. Berlin: Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2002. 441 p. 24 cm. ISBN 3-89602-391-8: EUR 21.90 [02-1-094]

After a bit more than two years the authors have issued an expanded new edition of their Lexikon der DDR-Stars, published in 1999 and positively reviewed in RREA 6:175. Why the title page mentions only the first author and not the second, on whose private archives of supporting role actors the book draws, is unclear. Changes to biographies taken from the previous edition are minimal and limited to the updating of filmographies. New biographies are present, however; entries under the letter A increased from 17 to 22. A welcome improvement is the somewhat larger format that better accommodates the black-and-white photos and caricature sketches. Even overlooking the nostalgic touch of this work, it is worth acquiring for its careful research of biographical details. [sh/rm]

Amazonen der Avantgarde im Film [Amazons of the Avant-Garde in Film]. Ed. Vladimir Zabordin. Berlin: Freunde der Deutschen Kinematek, 1999. 117 p. ill. 21 cm. (Kinematek, 90). ISBN 3-927876-14-3: EUR 10.20 [02-1-095]

This volume appeared in conjunction with a film of the same name that accompanied an exhibition “Amazons of the Avant-garde” held in the Guggenheim Museum in Berlin. The book is a documentation and reference work covering five women who played an important role in Soviet-Russian film in the 1920s. Represented here are Aleksandra Sergeevna Khokhlova (1891 or 1897–1985); Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Ekster (1882–1949); Esfir Il’inichna Shub (1894–1959); Elizaveta Ignat’evna Svilova (1900–1975), the wife of Dziga Vertov (1896–1954), with whom she worked her whole life long; and Lili Iur’evna Brik (1891–1978), the friend of Vladimir Maiakovsky. Russian film culture of these years had an essential significance for the history of film in general. Film owes thanks to the brave experiments of that time for path-breaking innovations.

In a foreword to this book, Maiia Iosifovna Turovskaia (born 1924) gives a good overview of the epoch from today’s point of view. In each chapter the respective “amazon” is introduced by an essay by a notable Russian film practitioner. For example, Aleksandra Khokhlova is depicted by Sergei Eisenstein, Esfir Shub by Viktor Shkovskii, and Lili Brik by Vladimir Maiakovsky. The discussion of each woman’s life and work is followed by a bio-filmography. Both have much reference value, as do the details of the woman’s individual films, which include lists of the actors and all those involved in the production, as well as a brief contents summary.

Despite the lack of an index, the combination of reference-style information with new and old texts by and about the women in question makes this work a worthy contribution to Russian film history and enhances our understanding of Russian literature, art, and political history. [wk/ga]

Reclams Sachlexikon des Films [Reclam’s Encyclopedia of Film]. Ed. Thomas Koebner. [Editorial Collaborator: Stefanie Weinsheimer]. Stuttgart: Reclam, 2002. 719 p. ill. 22 cm. ISBN 3-15-010495-5: EUR 39.90 [02-1-096]

In recent years several German-language film encyclopedias have joined the numerous publications devoted to motion pictures and people associated with film. These include Sachlexikon Film [Encyclopedia of Film], 1997; Film und neue Medien [Film and New Media], 2000; Reclams Filmführer [Reclam’s Film Guide], 2000 (see RREA 7:160); Filmklassiker [Film Classics], 2001 (for 1995 ed. see RREO 95-4-600); Filmregisseure [Film Directors], 1999 (see RREA 6:173). With Reclams Sachlexikon des Films, Reclam completes its repertoire of aesthetically and pedagogically engaging film lexicons, in which relatively lengthy articles provide a synthetic view rather than focus on details.

In contrast to Rowohlt’s Sachlexikon Film and Monaco’s Film und neue Medien, which present only factual information in relatively brief articles, Reclams Sachlexikon des Films, in addition to presenting factual information in brief half- to one-page entries, focuses on aesthetic themes in its three- to seven-page articles, citing secondary literature and grappling with various problems. The signed articles are often supported by black-and-white illustrations. The entries are linked through cross-references, and a subject index containing more than 500 concepts connects the themes with synonyms and related ideas. There are also separate indexes of the films by their original and German titles and of the 70 authors who contributed the approximately 320 articles. Koebner, who teaches film studies at the University of Mainz, and his “Mainz Team” make the well-founded claim of having produced a unique film encyclopedia.

In pursuit of its goal to bring both the facts and fundamental issues of film closer to an interested public, Reclams Sachlexikon des Films describes the most important genres, forms, and historical styles; clarifies processes and their technical requirements; introduces institutions such as studios, film festivals, and film museums; and discusses aesthetic categories of film. It goes without saying that budding devotees of film are extremely well-served by this publication. [wub/rm]

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Last update: March 6, 2006 [BG]
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