Roman Karmen

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Roman Lazarevich Karmen (Russian: Рома́н Ла́заревич Карме́н; 16 November 1906 in Odessa – 28 April 1978 in Moscow) was a Soviet war camera-man and film director and one of the most influential figures in documentary film making; insofar as his propaganda is concerned, he could be considered USSR's equivalent to Leni Riefenstahl, though the comparison is by no means absolute.

Communist propaganda

Karmen was a true believer in Communism, and roamed the world portraying the Spanish Civil War, the battles for Moscow and Leningrad in World War II, the First Indochina War, and the rise of Communism in South East Asia in the 1950s and in South America during the 1960s.

Karmen was also granted personal access to the emergence of Communist leaders China's Mao Tse-Tung, Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh and Cuba's Fidel Castro, and Chile's socialist president Salvador Allende.


Karmen's documentary methods were both influential and controversial; his renowned technical ability captured the emotion of war and the repetition of key shots and framings between film projects became a hallmark, but he would often blur the lines of Cinéma vérité by restaging key battles, including the lifting of the siege of Leningrad (Ленинград в борьбе, 1942), the Viet Minh victory at the siege of Dien Bien Phu (Вьетнам, 1955), and the 1956 landing in Cuba of militants led by Fidel Castro, re-enacted as a first person documentary.

In 2001, French documentary directors Dominique Chapuis and Patrick Barbéris produced a 90-minute film, titled Roman Karmen: A Cineast In The Revolution's Service.[1] The following year Barbéris (his co-author Chapuis died in late 2001) published a critical portrait Roman Karmen, A Red Legend.[2]


  • 1939: Испания (Spain), about the Spanish civil war
  • 1942: Ленинград в борьбе (Leningrad in the fight), about the Siege of Leningrad
  • 1942: Разгром немецких войск под Москвой (Crushing defeat of German troops in the environs of Moscow), about the Battle of Moscow
  • 1945: Берлин (Berlin), about the Battle of Berlin
  • 1946: Суд народов (Judgment of the peoples), about the Nuremberg trial. An English language version of the film called The Nuremberg Trials was also made.
  • 1953: Повесть о нефтяниках Каспия (Narrative about the oil-industry workers of the Caspian region)
  • 1955: Вьетнам (Vietnam), about the Siege of Dien Bien Phu
  • 1956: Утро Индии (Indian Morning)
  • 1958: Широка страна мояa... (Wide is my country…), the first Soviet motion picture produced in Kinopanorama.
  • 1959: Покорители моря (Conquerors of the sea)
  • 1961: Пылающий остров (Blazing island), about the Bay of Pigs Invasion
  • 1965: Великая отечественная (Great Patriotic War), 20th anniversary of the end of the German-Soviet War
  • 1967: Гренада, Гренада, Гренада моя… (Grenada, Grenada, my Grenada…), co-directed with Konstantin Simonov, about the Spanish civil war
  • 1969: Товарищ Берлин (Berlin Kamarad)
  • 1972: Пылающий континент (Blazing continent)

See also


  1. Roman Karmen, un cinéaste au service de la révolution, Dominique Chapuis & Patrick Barbéris, Kuiv Productions / Arte France, 2001
  2. Roman Karmen, une Légende Rouge, Dominique Chapuis & Patrick Barbéris, Seuil, October 12th 2002

External links