BG - Theater and Performing Arts

Verstummte Stimmen: die Vertreibung der “Juden” und “politisch Untragbaren” aus den Dresdner Theatern 1933-1945; eine Austellung [Silenced Voices: The Expulsion of “Jews” and “Political Liabilities” from Dresden’s Theaters, 1933- 1945. An Exhibition]. Hannes Heer, Jürgen Kestling, and Peter Schmidt. Berlin: Metropol-Verlag, 2011. 176 p. ill. 26 cm. ISBN 9783863310325: EUR 16 [11-2]

This is the catalog of an exhibition held in Dresden from 15 May to 13 July 2011 as part of the itinerant exhibition project, Verstummte Stimmen: die Vertreibung der “Juden” aus der Oper 1933 bis 1945 [… from the German Opera …]. More than half of the volume is taken up with general material on the “Nazification” of German theater previously published in the catalogs of earlier Verstummte Stimmen exhibitions in Hamburg, Berlin, Stuttgart, and Darmstadt (see IFB 09-1/2). The Dresden-specific content of the volume is made up of a short historical chapter followed by a more substantial biographical section. Extensive notes and a select bibliography are included. [sh/cjm]

Verstummte Stimmen: die Vertreibung der “Juden” und “politisch Untragbaren” aus den hessischen Theatern 1933-1945 [Silenced Voices: The Expulsion of “Jews” and “Political Liabilities” from Theaters in Hessen, 1933-1945]. Hannes Heer. Berlin: Metropol-Verlag; Wiesbaden: Kommission für die Geschichte der Juden in Hessen, 2011. 411 p. ill. 23 cm. (Schriften der Kommission für die Geschichte der Juden in Hessen, 27). ISBN 9783863310134 (Metropol); 9783921434314 (Kommission...): EUR 24 [11-2]

Published in connection with the itinerant exhibition Verstummte Stimmen: die Vertreibung der “Juden” aus der Oper 1933 bis 1945 [… from the German Opera …], this volume brings together four essays on the “Nazification” of theaters in Hessen. In part, these papers represent the proceedings of a conference held in Darmstadt in the context of the Verstummte Stimmen exhibition. The essays are of varying length and depth, but all represent significant scholarly contributions to the study of the theater in Nazi Germany. In particular, the final essay in the volume makes important points about the directions that future scholarship in the field might take. The volume includes a select bibliography, but unfortunately no index. [sh/cjm]

Diccionario crítico de directoras de cine europeas [Critical Dictionary of Women Directors of European Cinema]. Ed. María del Carmen Rodríguez Fernández and Eduardo Viñuela Suárez. Madrid: Ediciones Cátedra, 2011. 592 p. 25 cm. (Signo e imagen). ISBN 9788437628783: EUR 24.81

An RREA Original Review by David D. Oberhelman (Oklahoma State University)

The Diccionario crítico de directoras de cine europeas represents an important contribution to film studies and feminist studies. It documents the life and work of women film directors in both Western and Eastern Europe from the late 1800s through 2009, offering brief biographies, filmographies, and appraisals of their work in the context of European cinema. Produced as a result of a research study conducted by the Grupo Intermedia y Género, Universidad de Oviedo [Gendered Intermedia Group at the University of Oviedo], a center for both feminist and media studies research, the dictionary helps trace the important role that women played in the history of film. Editors María del Carmen Rodríguez Fernández and Eduardo Viñuela Suárez have assembled a team of regional editors and contributors from the faculty at Oviedo to oversee entries for the various countries and geographical areas represented in the guide. This reference work provides a concise introduction to the many women directors and their part in shaping the many national cinemas of Europe from their infancy through the wartime era and dominance of Hollywood, 20th-century movements such as the Nouvelle vague [New Wave] in France, the rise of feminist film theory in academic circles, and the greater position of women in the motion picture industry of the new millennium.

The scope of the dictionary is limited to women directors of commercially released feature films, including documentaries. Female producers, cinematographers, actresses, and screenwriters are not included, although there are some exceptions; for example, the celebrated French actress Jeanne Moreau receives an entry for the three films she directed during her long career. Directors whose work appeared after 2009 are also excluded from this work. It is arranged in alphabetical order by the director’s last name. Each entry includes the name, dates of birth and death, and the country in which the director was born—modern names for the countries in cases in which the political boundaries have shifted in the last century. Though most entries are succinct, providing just the basic facts about each director and her films, they contain useful commentary and critical discussions of the director’s contributions that will appeal to film scholars and enthusiasts alike. The article on Alice Guy Blaché, the first known woman director and the first director and writer of a fictional narrative film, is one of the most comprehensive. It offers valuable insight into her relationship to pioneering French filmmaker Leon Gaumont and the instrumental part that she played in the early cinema of both France and the United States. A bibliography of contemporary books on Guy Blaché concludes the entry; then a list of films she directed, along with their release dates, appears after the main body of the article. Most entries do not go into such depth, but they all are scholarly and give the reader a good overview of the presence of women in European filmmaking. The dictionary concludes with an index of directors credited with only one film that is sorted by their country of birth. A complete national index of all the directors covered in the book would, however, have been a more useful feature for researchers.

The Diccionario crítico de directoras de cine europeas will be a valuable addition to a world cinema collection in academic libraries. It will complement older reference titles on European women directors such as Gwendolyn Audrey Foster’s Women Film Directors: An International Bio-Critical Dictionary (Westport, Conn., 1995) and Tisiano Sossi’s Dizionario delle registre: l’atra metà del cinema [Dictionary of Women Directors: The Other Half of Cinema] (Rome, 2000), as well as film histories such as Concha Irazábal Martín’s Alice sí está: directoras de cine europeas y norteamericanas, 1896-1996 [Alice is Here: Women Directors of European and North American Cinema, 1896-1996] (Madrid, 1996). For Spanish and Portuguese directors, the ambitious, multivolume Diccionario del cine iberoamericano [Dictionary of Iberoamerican Cinema] (Madrid, 2011- ) may give more detailed assessments of their careers, but it lacks the pan-European perspective of Diccionario crítico de directoras de cine europeas and its exclusive focus on women who have sat in the director’s chair.

Screening Nostalgia: 100 years of German Heimat Film. [Silenced Voices: The Expulsion of “Jews” Alexandra Ludewig. Bielefeld: Transcript-Verlag, 2011. 475 p. 23 cm. ISBN 978-3-8376-1462-6: EUR 39.80 [12-2]

This work investigates the genre of the German Heimat (usually translated as “homeland”) film from its early forms before the First World War to present-day 21st-century German cinema. The author’s introduction explains the goal of the work: “The examination of one hundred years of Heimat films ... informs us about the changing ways in which family, community and nation, as well as past, present and future have been imagined, and provides insights into the development of German-language film from the period of the Wilhelminian empire until well into the 21st century” (p. 15). The intent is not just to define the Heimat film but also to show the cultural determinants underlying the genre, how changing cultural conditions are reflected in it, and to demonstrate the reciprocal relationship between medium and message over a period spanning 100 years. As an orientation for the English reader the introductory sections present an overview of the concept Heimat and a discussion of the Heimat-film as a film genre. The main chapters are chronologically arranged. Each examines the manifestations and usages of Heimat through analysis of selected films. The first sections examine the Heimat theme in the early “mountain films” of post-World War I Germany and Austria, as well as the misuse of Heimat themes in the National Socialist period and the negative connotations attached to the term as a result. “Post-War Heimat Films” examines the Heimat film as popular entertainment in its heyday, the 1950s and 1960s, while “Critical Heimat films” examines reactions to the genre after the emergence of the “new” German film in the 1960s in films of Fassbinder and Volker Schlöndorf. “Positive (Re-) Discoveries of Heimat” examines a reevaluation of the Heimat genre in films of both East and West Germany in the period leading up to unification. A chapter on “Ambivalent Heimat films” is devoted to films that present very personal and varied views on the political and social situation in the Germanys before and after reunification. For the most recent period “Hyphenated Heimat” discusses films in which the Heimat theme is used in relation to the immigrant experience in Germany.

Studies on film genres are probably best undertaken for limited specific periods that permit a more restricted definition of their subject. Because of the broadly inclusive approach the author has taken and because of the protean nature of the Heimat complex over a period of 100 years, this work is not successful as a history of the Heimat film as a film genre. The author’s methodological approach was to rely on primarily on contemporary criticism with the result that the analysis is based on the specific discourse of each period. A chapter on the history of Heimat film criticism would have been very useful in this regard. There are no dialog examples or excerpts of script directions, only minimal references to dramaturgy, and no pictures (a problematic decision in a film book). One can also take issue with a number of the author’s interpretations. However, the book’s strong points remain: it presents a historical overview of the theme Heimat (in the broadest sense) in German films. The section examining the manysided Heimat concept is an essential contribution to the subject. For each period the historical discourse on the meaning of Heimat is well demonstrated. The result is an overview of differing concepts of Heimat in German films over time, and of the world view of each period as reflected in those films. [wh/jc]

“Es wird im Leben dir mehr genommen als gegeben ...” Lexikon der aus Deutschland und Österreich emigrierten Filmschaffenden 1933 bis 1945; eine Gesamtübersicht [“In Life You Will Give More Than You Get”: Dictionary of Film Artists Who Emigrated from Germany and Austria between 1933 and 1945]. Kay Weniger. Hamburg: Acabus-Verlag, 2011. 683 p. ill. 25 cm. (Acabus Biografie). ISBN 978-3-86282-049-8: EUR 64.90 [12-3]

After the appearance of his major work, Das große Personenlexikon des Films (see RREA 8:159), Austrian historian Kay Weniger embarked on a project documenting the fates of film workers affected by the Nazi regime. Because of the massive numbers of people involved and the problems involved in defining exactly who belongs to the film industry, this is indeed a challenging undertaking. So far, the ambitious project has resulted in the publication of two biographical dictionaries. His first one, Zwischen Bühne und Baracke (see RREA 14:107) published in 2008, contained biographies of filmmakers, actors, composers, cinematographers, and other film workers who were killed or expelled by the Nazis. The present volume documents the fates of those who avoided the worst persecution by leaving of their own free will. It contains approximately 575 biographies of people who emigrated for political or racial reasons between 1933 and 1945. This group is mainly comprised of leftists as well as Jews who could not find employment in the film industry after March 1933 (and after 1936 in Austria because of the Austrian film producers’ agreement with the German Reich in that year). The selection criteria for this book exclude those who were already working abroad in 1933 and chose not to return or who emigrated for personal reasons.

The 50-page-long introduction provides a readable and vivid account of the political and administrative reasons for emigration and the conditions the emigrants encountered in the countries of their exile in Europe and beyond. Chapter 1, “Extensive Biographies,” contains 476 detailed biographies of actors, directors, composers, producers, cinematographers and other film workers; it includes voluminous documentation such as pre- and post-exile filmographies. Chapter 2, “Other Emigrant Destinies,” contains shorter entries on the fates of 76 people with more tangential involvement in the film industry. Chapter 3, “Emigrants, Returnees, and Other Special Cases,” has 21 detailed biographies of people whose decisions and actions did not fit into any simple parameter of racial or political emigration. It depicts missteps, reverse emigration, and returnees’ poignantly futile attempts to ingratiate themselves with the encroaching regime. The work concludes with an index of pesons covered by the articles (but unfortunately does not include mentions of them that appear in the introduction or the other articles), followed by a selective bibliography (that does not offer much of an overview), a list of illustrations, and a brief biography of the author.

The refrain in the title comes from a song written by Hans May (music) and Ernst Neubach (lyrics) and made popular by the legendary tenor Joseph Schmidt in the film Heut ist der schönste Tag in meinem Leben [Today is the Most Beautiful Day in My Life]. The film was directed by Richard Oswald and released in Austria in 1936 by Viennese Emigrés as a bittersweet farewell. Finally, 65 years later, Kay Weniger’s impressive work has created a worthy and long-overdue memorial to those numerous film personages whom the Nazis drove out of Germany and Austria. It is recommended for all academic library collections. [wub/as]

Filmexil. Ed. Film-Museum Berlin, Deutsche Kinemathek. Vols.1-22 (1992- 2005 = complete run). München: Edition Text + Kritik. 2011. 25 cm. ISSN 0942-7074; ISBN 978-3-86916-140-2: EUR 135 [11-4]

The first 11 issues of Filmexil were published by Hentrich in Berlin, after which the publication moved to Munich until the final issue. The journal was published by the German Kinemathek Foundation, with Gero Gandert as leading editor from issue 13 on. As curator with the Foundation he was responsible for the gathering of archives and collections of leading film personages from the Weimar Republic, for example those of William Dieterle, Dolly Haas, Paul Kohner, Fritz Lang, Francis Lederer, Erich and John Pommer, Billy Wilder, Curt Siodmak, and Marlene Dietrich.

The opening editorial to volume 1 described the journal’s goal of documenting film artists from the Weimar Republic era and those who chose either “inner emigration” or outright emigration (predominantly to the United States) during the Nazi era, many of whom did not return to Germany after 1945. Most issues have an overarching theme, such as questions of emigration and re-immigration (2), screenplay writers (6), letters to Marlene Dietrich (10), actors in exile (12), other film artists in exile (18 and 19), and individual personages. The articles contain brief biographies of their contributors and bibliographic references and are illustrated with photographs. The quality of the paper is excellent throughout.

Seven of the issues (2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 17) featured an informative bibliography of the thematically interesting new publications from the respective previous year. These 22 issues of Filmexil continue to be a rich resource of biographical, thematic, and geographical information, as well as facsimiles, historic photographs, and bibliographic data. A worthy successor to this journal has yet to be found. This set belongs in every library that collects works in film history. [mk/ga]

Dictionnaire des acteurs du cinéma muet en France [Dictionary of Silent Film Actors in France]. Jacques Richard. Paris: Editions de Fallois, 2011. 909 p. 23 cm. ISBN 9782877067478: EUR 75

An RREA Original Review by Michelle Emanuel (University of Mississippi)

While most studies of the silent film industry in France have focused on the directors, this work shines the spotlight on the actors, also referred to as interprètes [interpreters]. In his 20-year study, Richard has profiled 750 actors and actresses from Aimos to Zinel. Though there are more actors who worked in the silent era, many proved too difficult to find. The collection focuses only on actors in silent films made in France during the 30-year period when they dominated the marketplace, many of whom came from the French theater tradition, music halls, or, in some cases, circuses. Each entry includes the actor’s or actress’s working name, actual name (if different), and known dates and locations of birth and death, as well as an indication of what the person did before working in silent films, others with whom he or she worked, and whether the person continued acting after silent films passed out of fashion (as did Maurice Chevalier and Raimu, for example). Bibliographical references are cited when available. Photographs are available for 690 of the entries. Dictionnaire des acteurs du cinéma muet en France is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the early days of film history in France, as dramatized in Michel Hazanavicius’s award-winning film, The Artist.

Diccionario del cine iberoamericano: España, Portugal, y América [Dictionary of Ibero-American Cinema: Spain, Portugal, and America]. Ed. Emiliano Casares Rodicio. Vols. 1-8. Madrid: Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, 2011. 27 cm. ISBN 978-84-8048-821-1 (set): EUR 725

An RREA Original Review by David D. Oberhelman (Oklahoma State University)

The SGAE or Sociedad General de Autores y Editores [General Society of Authors and Editors], the main copyright-collecting agency for composers, songwriters, and music publishers in Spain, previously published the 10-volume Diccionario de la música española e hispanoamericana [Dictionary of Spanish and Hispano-American Music] (Madrid, 1999-2002), which has become a standard reference source for music in Spain and the Spanish-speaking world. Following the success of that work, the Fundación Autor [Author Foundation] of the SGAE undertook a project to document the people and other aspects of the world of Spanish-language film and expanded its efforts to include Portuguese film work, too. The result was the eight thematic and biographical volumes of the Diccionario del cine iberoamericano: España, Portugal, y América, which appeared in 2011, with two supplemental volumes containing entries on over 1,000 films planned for 2012. This encyclopedic work provides an overview of actors, directors, producers, and other filmmakers, along with thematic aspects of cinema history for 22 nations, including Spain, Portugal, Mexico, and the hispanophone and lusophone countries of Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. Researched and written by a large team of 407 area experts under the editorial supervision of Emilio Casares Rodicio, director of the Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales [Complutense Institute for Musical Sciences], this comprehensive encyclopedia, with nearly 16,000 entries and over 500 illustrations, is an impressive achievement for the study of film in these two major languages.

The eight volumes currently in print contain entries on people and thematic concepts or topics, arranged in alphabetical order, ranging in length from half a column of text to several pages. Extensive cross-references help researchers navigate among the entries. Entries on actors, directors, and other persons involved in film production list their countries of nationality (or where they primarily have worked), birth and death dates, and brief lists of their primary occupations related to the cinema. Most offer brief summaries of their careers, with filmographies and some bibliographies of printed works by or about the individuals. Some entries on noted figures are much more detailed and contain criticism of their contributions to film; the articles on Spanish directors Pedro Almodóvar Caballero and Luis Bruñuel, for example, both give extensive accounts of their careers and their key positions in the history of Spanish filmmaking that will be useful to both students and experienced researchers. The thematic entries on topics such as film archives and societies or independent filmmakers and amateur films are highly informative essays with bibliographies that provide a cultural and social history of film in the various countries. This encyclopedia examines both the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America in detail, showing the role of Spanish- and Portuguese-language cinema in the evolution of the art form, from the experimental films of the late 1800s through the heyday of movie-making in the 20th century and first decade of the next century.

The Diccionario del cine iberoamericano fills a significant gap in film studies with its focus on the cinema of the different continents and its inclusion of films in Portuguese as well as Spanish. It covers more territory than the SGAE’s earlier reference publication, the Diccionario del cine español [Dictionary of Spanish Cinema] (Madrid, 1998), or the Diccionario Espasa cine español [Espasa Dictionary of Spanish Cinema] (Madrid, 1996), both of which limit their geographical scope to the films of Spain. It will be an indispensible addition to the reference collections of libraries supporting film studies, as well as Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American studies programs, for years to come.

Next Section
Previous Section
Table of Contents

Comments, suggestions, or questions
Last update: November 2013 [RT]
© 2013 Casalini libri - VAT no. IT03106600483