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Rest of Cast: Film Credits as Spatiotemporally Dynamic Assemblies (2023-)

Recent discourses on New Materialism stress the fundamental importance of material culture for the humanities. Rest of Cast interrogates the colonial history of film credits in Classical Hollywood Cinema of the 1930s and 1940s, casting a critical light on participants in films that had remained uncredited in their opening and closing credits.

Film credits assemble the names of contributors to a film production, provide information about tasks, production companies, materials, funding and collaborations. In contrast to plain cast notes that present the names of those involved in a merely graphical manner, film credits constitute typographically based audio-visual formations. They incorporate cinematic characteristics such as image, sound, noise, voice, music, colour, etc. and might be subject to contractual rules and regulations as well as the historically specific production conventions of individual Hollywood studios.

Within today’s digital framework, however, film credits are subsequently updated und rewritten. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) contains profiles of films and filmmakers. The database‘s "rest of cast" section additionally lists actresses/actors initially uncredited in the movies themselves. These listings dynamically update and perpetually rewrite film credits, often reinstating cast (and crew) members whose contributions previously had not been disclosed. This process retrospectively exposes omissions and deliberate exclusions, rendering film credits spatiotemporally dynamic assemblies.

The project presupposes a crucial difference that has hardly been taken into account in discourses on film credits so far: the difference between the cast and crew members mentioned in the opening and closing credits on the one hand, and the people actually (and materially) involved in the same film production on the other. The main objective is to re-conceptualise film credits as spatiotemporally dynamic assemblies. This perspective suggests a shift from earlier film-philological approaches, which take film credits as mere paratexts, towards materiality. Based on case studies, the project investigates spatiotemporal and material dimensions of opening and closing credits in Classical Hollywood Cinema of the 1930s and 1940s, giving particular consideration to their colonial conditions.


Student Assistant