From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
He was the son of German-born parents, adopting his nom de plume in newspaper articles written before his 1902 move to Budapest, where he studied Hungarian and German at the Eötvös Collegium.
He is perhaps best remembered as the librettist of Bluebeard's Castle which he originally wrote for his roommate Zoltan Kodaly, who in turn introduced him to the eventual composer of the opera, Béla Bartók. This collaboration continued with the scenario for the ballet The Wooden Prince.
His first book on film, Der Sichtbare Mensch (The Visible Man) (1924), helped found German "film as a language" theory, which also exerted an influence on Sergei Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin. Later, he wrote and helped Leni Riefenstahl direct her first film, Das Blaue Licht (1932). One of his best known films is Somewhere in Europe (1947; It happened in Europe, 1949 USA version). György Lukács also was among his friends.
In 1949 he received the most distinguished prize in Hungary, the Kossuth Prize. Also in 1949, he finished Theory of the Film published posthumously in English (London: Denis Dobson, 1952). In 1958, the Béla Balázs Prize was founded and named for him as an award to recognize achievements in cinematography.