For the first time, on December 28, 1895, at the Grand Café in Paris, France, the inventors of the Cinématographe, Auguste and Louis Lumière, showed a series of eleven two-minute silent shorts to a public of thirty-five people each paying the high entry fee of one gold Franc. From that moment, a new era had begun, for the Lumière brothers were not only successful in their commercial venture, but also unknowingly created a new visual medium quickly to become, throughout the world, the half-popular entertainment, half-sophisticated art of the cinema. Eventually, the contribution of each member of the profession, especially that of the director and performers, took on enormous importance. A century later, the situation remains very much the same. The purpose of Greenwood's Reference Guides to the World's Cinema is to give a representative idea of what each country or region has to offer to the evolution, development, and richness of film. At the same time, because each volume seeks to present a balance between the interests of the general public and those of students and scholars of the medium, the choices are by necessity selective (although as comprehensive as possible) and often reflect the author's own idiosyncracies.
André Malraux, the French novelist and essayist, wrote about the cinema and filmmakers: “The desire to build up a world apart and self-contained, existing in its own right… represents humanization in the deepest, certainly the most enigmatic, sense of the word.” On the other hand, then, every Guide explores this observation by offering discussions, written in a jargon-free style, of the motionpicture art and its practitioners, and on the other provides much-needed information, seldom available in English, including filmographies, awards and honors, and ad hoc bibliographies.
Pierre L. Hon
Wright State University