BG – Theater and Performing Arts

Theaterlexikon. [Encyclopedia of Theater]. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt-Taschenbuch-Verlag. 22 cm. (rororo, ...). [07-1-149]

  1. Begriffe und Epochen, Bühnen und Ensembles [Terms and Epochs, Theaters and Troupes]. Ed. Manfred Brauneck and Gérard Schneilin. 5th, completely rev. ed. 2007. 1,215 p. ill. (... , 55673; Rowohlts Enzyklopädie). ISBN 978-3-499-55673-9: EUR 19.90

  2. Schauspieler und Regisseure, Bühnenleiter, Dramaturgen und Bühnenbildner [Actors and Directors, Stage Managers, Dramatic Advisors and Set Designers]. Ed. Manfred Brauneck and Wolfgang Beck with Werner Schulze-Reimpell. 2007. 798 p. (... , 55650; Rowohlts Enzyklopädie). ISBN 978-3-499-55650-0: EUR 19.90

The 5th edition of this paperback encyclopedia (first published in 1986) finally includes a volume 2, which has been promised by the publisher for years. The introduction to volume 1 outlines the selection criteria: topical (e.g., musical theater is excluded), geographical (the German-speaking regions), and period (from the very beginnings of theater, but with an emphasis on the 20th century and later). The more than 1,000 articles by 105 contributors range in length from a half column to 24 columns. Terms with their own articles are highlighted within all texts. It would have been even more helpful also to highlight the names now covered in articles in the second volume. Not many differences between the previous edition and this one could be discerned (see RREA 8:158 for 4th ed.). However, the format has been enlarged, so that the type is even paler and harder to read and the illustrations are even poorer on the glossy pages.

It was probably in response to its competitor, the Theaterlexikon from the Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag (see RREA 5:157) that Rowohlt’s version finally added the “persons” volume to this edition. It includes articles on actors, directors, set designers, theater directors and managers, almost exclusively from the 20th and 21st centuries, and chiefly from the German-speaking regions. In all, there are 860 biographies, averaging two columns each. There is no bibliography in volume 2, but the one in volume 1 does cover the sources for both volumes. [sh/hh]

Reclams Sachlexikon des Films [Reclam’s Encyclopedia of Film]. Ed. Thomas Koebner. 2d, updated and enlarged ed. Stuttgart: Reclam, 2007. 828 p. ill. 22 cm. ISBN 978-3-15-010625-9: EUR 39.90 [07-1-150]

It has been five years since the appearance of the 1st edition of this film encyclopedia (see RREA 8:162). One would expect that an updated and enlarged edition would have taken into account that since then, film production has gone almost completely digital. But of the 26 new articles, which filled some previous gaps, none deals explicitly with the digitization of the film industry. Only the existing article on computer animation has been expanded to include “computer generated imagery, CGI.” No other articles have been revised or brought up to date, except in their bibliographies. The conclusion reached in the original review remains the same: Reclam’s film encyclopedia does a competent and convincing job of presenting the main genres, forms and historical styles of film, explaining the various modes of filmmaking and the necessary technical conditions, introducing the studios, film festivals and museums, and discussing the different categories of film. Beyond the mere presentation of facts, it explores the fundamental problems and issues of the film medium. It goes without saying that budding devotees of film are very well served with this publication. [wub/hh]

Die deutsche Filmkomödie vor 1945: Kaiserreich, Weimarer Republik und Nationalsozialismus [The German Comedy Film before 1945: Empire, Weimar Republic, and National Socialism]. Ed. Jörg Schöning. München: Edition Text + Kritik, 2004. 144 p. ill. 21 cm. (Ein CineGraph-Buch). ISBN 3-88377-792-7: EUR 20 [06-2-270]

This work combines a list of the films shown at the 2004 Cinefest: the 1st International Festival of German Legacy Films in Hamburg, with a collection of scholarly essays from the 2005 Zürich Filmpodium: the 17th International Film-History Congress Spaß Beiseite: Jüdischer Humor, “Arisierung” und verdrängendes Lachen [All Joking Aside: Jewish Humor, “Aryanisation” and Suppressed Laughter]. In each historical section– Imperial Germany, Weimar Republic, and National Socialism–one finds a paper from the conference along with brief contents summaries and contemporaneous critiques of the films shown, as well as excerpts from contemporaneous essays on film comedy. The volume ends with indexes of film titles and personages, as well as the table of contents.

The work contains biographies of comedic actors Reinhold Schünzel and Heinz Rühmann, 55 film critics (with brief bibliographies) and 30 other comedians who did not always lead very amusing lives. The volume is rich in illustrations, festival information, and advertisements.

The Nazi period has been covered by works such as Karsten Witte’s Lachende Erben, toller Tag: Filmkomödie im Dritten Reich [Laughing Legacies, Great Days: Film Comedy in the Third Reich] (Berlin, 1995), Linda Schulte-Sasse’s Entertaining the Third Reich: Illusions of Wholeness in Nazi Cinema (Durham, NC, 1996), and Mary-Elizabeth O’Brien’s Nazi Cinema as Enchantment: The Politics of Entertainment in the Third Reich (Rochester, NY, 2004). Because of the lack of writing on early German comedy films up to 1933, Die deutsche Filmkomödie, with the Hamburg film catalog and the Zürich conference proceedings, is the one to reach for. [wub/ga]

Filmgenres [Film Genres]. Stuttgart: Reclam. 15 cm. [07-1-151]

Animationsfilm [The Animated Film]. Ed. Andreas Friedrich. 2007. 371 p. ill. (Reclams Universal-Bibliothek, 18405). ISBN 978-3-15-018405-9: EUR 8.40

This is the ninth in a twelve-volume series, preceded by volumes on adventure films, fantasies, horror films, comedies, war films, crime films, science fiction, and westerns. In this work, the editor disputes the contention that animated films are not a genre because they lack recurring themes, character types, settings, etc. He argues that the development of visible motion from series of created images gives animation the type of distinct quality that defines genre.

Among the 56 essays on feature films, by various authors and in chronological order, one finds nine articles on particular aspects of the animated-film genre, including a few “special focus” features on a particular director or film. This volume offers quite a bit more information than previous titles in the series, including an expanded index and many references, but unfortunately, fewer images from the films. Even so, it is an outstanding volume in this series. Also to be recommended is the Reclam series Filmklassiker: Beschreibungen und Kommentare (see RREO 95-4-600 and RREA 12:137). [wub/gw]

Für ein paar Leichen mehr: der Italo-Western von seinen Anfängen bis heute [For a Few Corpses More: The Spaghetti Western from its Beginnings to the Present]. Ulrich P. Bruckner. Rev. and updated ed. Berlin: Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2006. xxxii, 731 p. ill. 24 cm. ISBN 978-3-89602-705-4: EUR 29.90 [07-1-153]

There are probably not many genres of film with such coherent form that fill such a chronologically discrete chapter of cinematic history as does the “spaghetti western.” More than 500 films of this genre were produced in Italy and Spain in the ten years from 1965 to 1974, generally with unknown directors and actors and with typically small budgets. Simple motives of revenge took on sadomasochistic, mythic prominence in a timeless and spare Western milieu. The lone outsider, at first defeated but in the end successful in taking revenge against his evil antagonist, became the central figure about whom the extras whirled in a bloody dance of death. The films emphasized desert landscapes interspersed with close-ups of faces and costumes, and the accompanying music used leitmotifs in an almost operatic manner. Some 20 to 25 films stood out in the genre, while most of the others remained mediocre imitators. Nevertheless, a fascination with the genre continues on TV and DVD. Ten years after Thomas Weisser’s “definitive” 1992 Spaghetti Westerns: The Good, the Bad, and the Violent; A Comprehensive, Illustrated Filmography of 558 Eurowesterns and their Personnel, 19611977, Bruckner’s first German edition appeared. This revised version appeared a short four years later. After a brief introduction, around 100 of the “best spaghetti westerns of all time” are chronologically presented in time capsules from 1964-1972, 19731974, and finally 1975-1996. Content descriptions and annotations are followed by quotes from German film writers. The second part of the book combines indexes of actors, directors, writers, cinematographers, composers, and musicians, enriched by a few interviews. After a photo section comes a revised filmography of all spaghetti westerns, Italian and otherwise, with short evaluations. At the end we find lists of the 25 most popular films and 20 most popular soundtracks, pseudonym lists, song texts and a newly worked index of translated German titles, the most accessible key to the entire reference work. The work is recommended not only for connoisseurs, but for anyone interested in film. The new edition, with better paper and the addition of color illustrations, is a delight. [wub/rdh]

James Bond XXL: das weltweit umfangreichste 007-Nachschlagewerk [James Bond XXL: The World’s Most Comprehensive 007 Reference Work]. Danny Morgenstern and Manfred Hobsch. 2 vols. Berlin: Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2006. 796, xxxii, 861, xxxii p. 19 cm. ill. ISBN 978-3-89602-545-6: EUR 29.90 [07-1-154]

The two authors of this James Bond reference work, arguably the world’s most comprehensive, are a double-o-seven fan and a veteran film journalist, the latter of whom leapt into the project to help master the proliferating facts. Indeed, the reach and extent of data are extraordinary: all 44 Bond novels from the 12 original novels by Ian Fleming to those by less-known successor authors; 11 short stories, satires and parodies; and, of course, all 24 films–minutely researched as to production staff, actors, thematic details, proverbial quotes, film tricks, budgets, and subsequent reviews. The results are neatly organized and alphabetized into almost 14,000 entries on over 1,600 pages. The source index includes almost 1,000 editions of the novels and around 360 secondary literature references. In the middle of each of the two volumes is a 16-leaf treasure of illustrations: partially colored, partially black-and-white portraits, freeze-frame shots, film posters, and so on. Little seems to be missing in this grand agglomeration of information; perhaps here and there the line between novel characters and film figures is blurred, and the indexing may lack comprehensiveness and cross-referencing at times. Such hair-splitting will be irrelevant for most readers, however, since they are principally 007 fans interested less in detailed research and reference work than in skimming and marveling. To judge seriously what other details might be missing, or what needs correction or supplementing, lies beyond the powers of this reviewer, since he is overwhelmed by the richness and complexity of a first-magnitude cult figure. This is for all fans and for those interested. [wub/rdh]

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Last update: October 2010 [LC]
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