Roman Karmen: Filmmaker in the Service of the Revolution

Images are uniquely impervious to historical revision, a tension that powers this fascinating French documentary about Soviet propagandist Roman Karmen. An admirer of Eisenstein and a loyal minion of the state, Karmen made his name with stunning documentary accounts of the Spanish civil war and the siege of Leningrad, and as the Kremlin's filmmaker at large he helped to deify Mao, Castro, and Ho Chi Minh. Directors Patrick Barberis and Dominique Chapuis have assembled a fine catalog of Karmen's bold imagery, but their insightful voice-over (dubbed in English) also carefully dissects his stagings and reenactments, revealing how carefully he polished his first draft of history and how steadily his talent was corrupted by ideology. 90 min.

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