CineGraph - Lexikon zum deutschsprachigen Film

From the PREFACE of the editor, 1984

CineGraph is a work of archaeology: Many, most of the films dealt with here have long been forgotten, lost without trace. No one alive today has ever seen them.

CineGraph is a report on current events: Some of the films dealt with here are still in production. No one has seen them yet.

CineGraph is not a book: It is an information machine. It is in constant motion. Once in its readers hands it has already aged, the editors have more information underway to the next instalment.

CineGraph is not a book: It is a still from the stream of information, a frame from a documentary, to be followed by the next frame, which is like the first but a little more developed.

CineGraph is technically more advanced than the usual run of encyclopaedias: The loose-leaf format enables permanent updating.

CineGraph is technically outmoded: It transforms computerised information into a medium of the late middle ages, capturing ever-advancing knowlegde at a particular point, at the many points of a laser letter.

Now, with the end of cinema as a theatrical art within sight, with both industry and finance beginning to loose interest in it, there is perhaps still just a possibility - using the tools of archaeology and history - of capturing and progressing the short and hectic story of this intermediate art form.

Whilst the few, lamenably under-financed institutions - the three German FIAF archives are a case in point - do all they (still) can to collect what is still available and still in existence, to conserve it and keep it from being lost, little in the way of scientific and methodical collation and research gets done - except as a haphasard result of the frantically concocted retrospective at one of these institutions.

Where other disciplines, the study of literature for example, have been doing basic research over the last decades and centuries - bibliographies, biographies, period surveys, motif research, building a reliable foundation for further development - every piece of work in film history has had to start from scratch, busying itself with the unknown.

What reference books can be used without quals? 'Lamprecht', a standard work on the german silent film, the first, and for far too many, alas, the last one they consult - a book that turns out under closer analysis to be in certain periods little more than a tentative approach to the facts.

As will be clear from the present structure of CineGraph - with its signed essays and the detailed data sections put together by the editors - subjective interpretations stand alongside the main body of factual information. Analysis has been deliberately accorded a somewhat secondary role, since it seemed to us that in the present state of film studies a strictly empirical collation of factual material was more important - something that others can work further on, something to stimulate further cooperation.

Our own experience and our ongoing contacts with collegues during the development of CineGraph mean that we harbour no illusions of infallibility. We know our own shortcomings only too well, and make no attempt to hide them. We offer CineGraph as a collection of material to be used. In this way we hope for and expect corrections and additions from those who use it - this, after all, is one of the great advantages of the loose-leaf format.

After a number of vain attempts, we have dropped the idea of being consistent throughout. We have set up guidelines for our work (they are explained in the instructions for usage). We have kept to them as far as possible. We have ignored them - after much heart-searching - where we had to, where it helped make thing clearer, without adversely affecting the clarity of the work as a whole. Absolute consistency is only possible where everything is clear - or where a lack of clarity is to be concealed.

We are trying to beat new paths - technically, perhaps in information too - we may sometimes err, but that's the only way forward.

Hans-Michael Bock, 1984

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