The idea of a book like this seems to have been with me since my days as a young researcher. When I mentioned it to Michel Marie in Paris twenty years ago, all he said was, “Hm, très ambitieux!” Twelve years passed before I ever dared to return to this idea. In 1996, at the kind invitation of Michal Friedman I presented a paper at the Blurred Boundaries conference in Tel Aviv where the first draft of my ideas about cinematic modernism was outlined. Daniel Dayan's and especially Dana Polan's encouraging comments on that piece convinced me that I was mostly likely on the right track to develop some aspects of this project. That is when I started to seriously consider beginning intensive and systematic research. I wrote preliminary drafts of chapters in 1998, but still I wasn't very sure where I was going with the project, and, not being a native English speaker, I worried that I would not be able to write this book in English. Two dear friends, Nancy Wood and David Rodowick, read and patiently edited my first drafts, convinced me to carry on, and gave the last push. I could count on their valuable comments in later phases of my work too.
I am thankful to several people and institutions that helped me in my research. First, a Fulbright grant afforded me five months of undisturbed research in the United States. The University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Southern California hosted me and generously provided access to their rich resource materials, and for this I am especially thankful to David Bordwell and Dana Polan. I did my initial research at the Bibliothèque de l'Arsénale and at the Bibliothèque du Film in Paris where I kept returning at every stage of the work during the four years I spent in this city. I am grateful to Gyula Gazdag who helped me in getting access to the film and video collection of UCLA. Magyar Nemzeti Filmarchívum,