Roman Karmen

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Roman Lazarevich Karmen (Russian: Рома́н Ла́заревич Карме́н; 29 November [O.S. 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.[1]


Karmen was born to a Jewish family in Odessa. His father was the writer Lazar (Leyzor) Karmen and his mother was the translator Dina Leypuner.

Communist propaganda[edit]

Karmen was a Communist, 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.[2] The following year Barbéris (his co-author Chapuis had died in late 2001) published the portrait Roman Karmen, A Red Legend.[3]


De Castries' bunker in Вьетнам, 1955

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter Rollberg (2009). Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Cinema. US: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 324–326. ISBN 978-0-8108-6072-8.
  2. ^ Roman Karmen, un cinéaste au service de la révolution, Dominique Chapuis & Patrick Barbéris, Kuiv Productions / Arte France, 2001 Archived 2007-09-14 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Roman Karmen, une Légende Rouge, Dominique Chapuis & Patrick Barbéris, Seuil, 12 October 2002

External links[edit]