BG -- Theater and Performing Arts

Von Adorf bis Ziemann: die Bibliographie der Schauspieler-Biographien 1900-2000; Deutschland, Österreich, Schweiz [From Adorf to Ziemann: Bibliography of Actor Biographies, 1900-2000]. Ed. Ulrich Liebe, foreword by Henning Rischbieter. Schöppenstedt: Verlag Kultur und Kritik, 2004. 666 p. 24 cm. ISBN 3-9809683-0-8: EUR 98 [05-1-144]

605 biographies of 381 actors from Germany, Austria and Switzerland receive meticulous treatment in this volume. A full-page description (33 lines) is dedicated to each biography, listing actor’s name and dates, the biography’s author, title, publisher and date, ISBN, size of edition, number of pages, illustrations, and much more. Clearly Liebe has held each one of the books in his hands and it appears he has been thorough in ferreting out all German-language titles that fall into this genre, limited only by his own set of parameters (must be over 50 pages, commercially published, etc.). However, he falls short of annotating or evaluating the entries in any meaningful way. In the categories "cultural historic value" and "entertainment value," among others, the editor uses a rating system of 1-5 stars which is neither very scholarly nor very useful. Some biographical series and collective biographies are also taken into consideration. An index of persons mentioned in the articles and a calendar of birth and death dates of the actors are included. Strangely, the format and price do not fit the content: 150 pages of bibliographic information on non-glossy paper would have served the same purpose at a much more reasonable price. Less would have been more. [wub/hh]

Filmszene D: die 250 wichtigsten jungen deutschen Stars aus Kino und TV [Film Scene D: The 250 Most Important Young German Stars of Cinema and TV]. Manfred Hobsch, Ralf Krämer, and Klaus Rathje. Berlin: Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2004. 490, 32 p. ill. 19 cm. ISBN 3-89602-511-2: EUR 14.90. [05-1-149]

This biographical dictionary of actors and directors reflects the international diversity of current German film: a sample of nine entries includes seven actors originally from countries other than Germany. Although the tone is somewhat brash or superficial and some information of questionable accuracy, Filmszene D provides brief biographical information, a retrospective list of film and television appearances and awards, and identifies the agency and web site for each entry, the latter serving as a potential source of more complete and accurate information. Look here for amusing information without pretensions to completeness or qualitative evaluation, updated by the web site http://www.filszene-d.de. [wub/ab]

Der geteilte Himmel: Höhepunkte des DEFA-Kinos 1946-1992 [Heaven Divided: Highlights of the DEFA Film 1946-1992]. A project of the Austrian Film Archive Vienna, the State Film Archive Berlin, and the DEFA Foundation Berlin, with the support of Progress Film Lending Services, Berlin, and the German Radio Broadcasting Foundation, Frankfurt/Main. Berlin; Vienna: Filmarchiv Austria. 25 cm. ISBN 3-901932-09-7: EUR 21.60 [05-1-152]

Vol. 1. Die Filme der Retrospektive [The Films of the Retrospective]. Ed. Helmut Pflügl. 2001. 461 p. ill.

Vol. 2. Essays zur Geschichte der DEFA und Filmografien von 61 DEFA-Regisseuren [Essays on the History of DEFA and Filmographies of 61 DEFA Directors]. Ed. Raimund Fritz. 2001. 295 p. ill. Filmographies, p. 199-278

Ten years after the dissolution of DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft), the state film monopoly of the former German Democratic Republic, the Austrian Film Archive Vienna, the State Film Archive in Berlin and the DEFA Foundation Berlin embarked on a cooperative project, a retrospective showing of 126 DEFA films in Austria. This event was accompanied by the publication of two volumes of documentary materials. Volume 1, the catalog, presents the films in the thematic order that they were shown. The entry for each film includes a brief content summary or comment, black-and-white photos, and documentary text. This volume concludes with a title index of the included movies, documentaries, and weekly news magazines. Volume 2 contains 13 thematic essays on the DEFA film, 61 short biographies of DEFA film directors (including a photo and chronological list of films directed), as well as title and personal name indexes for this volume. Both volumes allow the reader glimpses into the complexities, contradictions, and ambivalences of forty years of DEFA productions, without attempting complete coverage. One drawback of this set is that the plot summaries in the catalog are rather sketchy. [wub/ba]

Österreich in Bild und Ton: die Filmwochenschau des austrofaschistischen Ständestaates [Austria in Picture and Sound: the Weekly Film Program of the Austro-Fascist Corporate State]. Ed. Michael Achenbach, Karin Moser. Wien: Filmarchiv Austria. [05-1-153]

[Book]. 2002. 560 p. ill. 25 cm. Filmography, p. 397-556. ISBN 3-901932-18-6: EUR 24.90, EUR 39.90 (with the Annual Video)

Jahresvideo [Annual Video] 1933. 2002. 1 Videocassette (VHS, 80 min. color). (Edition österreichische Wochenschauen). EUR 21.60

Jahresvideo [Annual Video] 1934. 2002. 1 Videocassette (VHS, 76 min. color). (Edition österreichische Wochenschauen). EUR 21.60

The film material of this weekly program was, after the "Anschluss" of Austria in 1938, transferred to the Reich Film Archive in Berlin, then to the Federal Archive in Koblenz in the 1960s, and together with portions in the GDR’s archives was transferred to the Film Archive Austria in 1996.

From 1930-32 this series carried the title Selenophon Tonfilmschau Austria, then Österreich in Bild und Ton, 1933-1938, and Ostmark-Woche from 1938 to January 1940, when the Selenophon Company was dissolved. This film series served the dictatorial "Austro-fascist Corporate State" created by Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss in his March 1933 coup d’état. The archive is thus an important source of Austria’s propagandistic image of itself and its view of the world in the 1930s.

The book contains essays on the historical background of 1930s Austria, on different social themes (such as politics, culture, social customs, women, the church, the economy, and sports). The book concludes with an extensive filmography of as many weekly programs as possible during between June 1933 and March 1938. The editors estimate that about 30% of the programs produced have been lost, but the remaining materials are considered to be quite extensive for analysis and interpretation of this second half of the historically denoted First Austrian Republic, 1919-1938. [wub/ga]

Theaterlexikon der Schweiz = Dictionnaire du théâtre en Suisse= Dizionario teatrale svizzero [Lexicon of the Theater in Switzerland]. Ed. Andreas Kotte, Simone Gojan, Joël Aguet, and Pierre Lepori. 3 vols. Zürich: Chronos-Verlag, 2005. 2168 p. 25 cm. ISBN 3-0340-0715-9: SFr. 198, EUR 130 [05-2-364]

This lexicon was produced under the auspices of the Institut für Theaterwissenschaft [Institute of Theater Studies] founded in 1992 in Bern. The institute employed over 230 contributors and an academic advisory board. The concept of "theater" behind the lexicon is very broad, encompassing many forms of theater such as municipal theater, amateur theater, young people’s theater, puppet theater, musical theater, and dance. In addition, there is coverage of drama, cinematic music, set design, theater criticism, and other subjects related to the theater.

There are more than 3,600 articles, over 3,000 of which are devoted to persons. The criterion of selection for persons included is at least five years’ activity in the theater in Switzerland, with an exception for Swiss natives who are prominent in the theater outside Switzerland. Other articles cover theatrical groups, ensembles, and theatrical institutions. There are no entries for individual cities and no index of places, but it is possible to use the numerous cross-references within the articles to reconstruct theatrical activity in a particular city or region.

Articles are written in one of four languages: German, French, Italian, or Rhaeto-Romanic (which is accompanied by a German translation). Articles on specific theaters include addresses, seating capacity, and bibliography. Articles on persons conclude with bibliography and a list of any unpublished works. The works of playwrights are not listed but are mentioned in the text of the article. There are numerous black-and-white illustrations of persons, buildings, and stage scenes. A bibliography of general reference works on the theater and a subject index would have benefited this otherwise excellent lexicon. [sh/rc]

Italian Ballet 1637-1977: A Catalogue. Morris S. Levy and John Milton Ward. Cambridge, Mass: Houghton Library, 2005. xxi, 420 p. ill. 27 cm. (The John Milton and Ruth Neils Ward Collection, 2). ISBN 0-9743963-1-1: $50 [05-2-365]

This is the second volume documenting the John Milton Ward and Ruth Niels Ward Collection, bequeathed to Houghton Library by emeritus professor of Music, John Milton Ward. According to the provenance, the collection was purchased over the last 20 years from rare-book dealers, among them Richard MacNutt, who has contributed to the introduction of the catalog. The documents are multifaceted but also disparate, ranging from handwritten libretti, scores, and piano pieces to choreographies, scenarios, etc. The catalog is arranged chronologically, but where there is no clear date available, entries are listed alphabetically. There are a total of 1,473 entries, of which 13 are unaccounted for in the appendix. Entries are arranged chronologically: 1637-1699 (4), 1700-1799 (119), 1800-1849 (660), 1850-1899 (56), 1900-1977 (101).

The bibliographic record adequately describes the scope, format and call numbers. The multi-part index contains: ballet by title, choreographers, composers, opera by title, opera composer, theater (alphabetically arranged by location), and miscellaneous names. Unfortunately, an index of publishers is lacking. [sh/jmw]

Hitlerjunge Quex, Jud Süss und Kolberg: die Propagandafilme des Dritten Reiches; Dokumente und Materialien zum NS-Film [Hitler Youth Quex, Jew Süss, and Kolberg: The Propaganda Films of the Third Reich; Documents and Materials on Nazi Film]. Rolf Giesen and Manfred Hobsch. Berlin: Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2005. 501 p. ill. 31 cm. ISBN 3-89602-471-X: EUR 49.90 [05-2-371]

Nazi Propaganda Films: A History and Filmography. Rolf Giesen. Jefferson, NC; London: McFarland, 2003. vii, 287 p. 27 cm. ISBN 0-7864-1556-8: EUR 55 [05-2-372]

The heavy coffee-table format and fine paper of the Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf publication unfortunately belie a certain infirmity of content. Of the 1,150 feature films produced during the Third Reich, somewhat more than 10 percent are categorized as openly propagandistic—yet we are given no criteria for inclusion of the 170 films in the volume. The fact that Goebbels personally reviewed each film produced during that era means that every film was a propaganda film. The propaganda element should have been elucidated in the case of every single film in the book. The main section arranges the films chronologically by date of first showing, and each year is preceded by a two-column calendar of contemporary events. Accompanying each filmographically rich citation is a plot summary and plentiful document and commentary sections (much of the description, however, is taken from the Illustrierter Filmkurier), as well as black-and-white photos. A ten-page section is devoted to short Nazi propaganda films, with meager critical apparatus. A post-war historical retrospective, 76 thumbnail biographies of "who was who" in Nazi film and a 142-title bibliography round out the tome. Alas, there are no indexes! Out of a presumptive reference work emerges merely a reader and picture book containing a wealth of often unpredictable information. The authors have missed the opportunity to create a handbook of Nazi film.

This is all the more baffling, given Giesen’s publication in English two years earlier of Nazi Propaganda Films. The latter contains indexes of both film titles (with their English translations) and persons. This work critically introduces the history of Nazi film in eleven chapters, in the process characterizing its central themes, while making judicious use of translated dialogue passages, quotes and photos. A richly detailed 119-title filmography, 146-person "who’s who" and 70-title bibliography are included. While the intent of Giesen and Hobsch is laudable, they have not succeeded with Hitlerjunge Quex, Jud Süss und Kolberg in critically clarifying their topic. The American publication did. Perhaps a translation of Giesen’s Nazi Propaganda Films for the German market would have been thematically as well as politically and didactically more suitable than the production of a new coffee-table volume. [wub/rlk]

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