Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Mikhail Romm - Biography

The great Russian film director Mikhail Romm lived and worked in hard and troubled times of the Soviet regime. A man of iron will and indomitable perseverance he was a very kind person. He brought up a whole galaxy of brilliant film-directors, including Andrei Tarkovsky, Grigori Chukhrai, Vasili Shukshin, Nikita Mikhalkov, Georgi Daneliya, Aleksandr Mitta, Igor Talankin, Rezo Chkheidze, Gleb Panfilov, Vladimir Basov, Tengiz Abuladze, and many others.

Mikhail Ilyich Romm was born on January 11, 1901 in Irkutsk where his father, a social democrat, had been exiled to. His mother was a passionate theatre lover and imparted her love for art to her children.

«From the age of nine I grew up in Moscow, —Mikhail Romm writes — I graduated from gymnasium in 1917 and entered the Moscow College for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. I decided to become a sculptor. However it did not prevent me from developing in the field of theatre, as an actor».

In the hard years of the so-called ‘war communism’ Romm found himself in the Red Army, as a soldier, then a telephone operator, and even an inspector.

In 1925 he graduated from the Faculty of Sculpture. Literature was another passion of his. In the 1920s Romm translated the French classics: Flober, Maupassant, and Zola. Moreover, he wrote novels, stories and short stories himself.

In the early 1930s Romm started working as an assistant of director. Later he was offered to direct a film himself, but under severe conditions. The result was Romm’s Boule de suif (Pyshka (1934)). This movie initiated Romm’s collaboration with cameraman Boris Volchek (1905—1974).

In 1936 marshal Voroshilov watched the Western movie The Lost Patrol (1934) by John Ford and suggested that Soviet cinematographers would make their own version. Mikhail Romm directed The Thirteen (Trinadtsat (1936)) that glorified a feat of the Red Army men. The only female role in this movie was played by Yelena Kuzmina (1909-1979), who became Romm’s wife “till the end of his life”.

The 1937-1939 saw the release of Romm’s famous dilogy about Lenin (Lenin in October (1937) and Lenin in 1918 (1939)). The official acknowledgment of these films put Mikhail Romm among the leading Soviet film directors.

Dream (Mechta(1943)) starring Faina Ranevskaya and other brilliant actors is considered the pinnacle of Romm’s creation. It was made right before the war. The film reveals deep spiritual crises, material and spiritual misery of inhabitants of a hostel titled Dream (Mechta). President Roosevelt said it was one of the greatest films in the world.

During the war Romm stayed in Moscow, while his wife was evacuated to Tashkent with a cinematographic group, and their daughter was in Ufa.

In 1945 Romm directed the film Girl No. 217 (Chelovek No. 217 (1945)) about a Soviet girl enslaved by fascists. The film took a prize at the Cannes festival and Stalin award. ...

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