Born: 20 April 1929, Klavdino, Leningrad province, USSR, as Vadim Ivanovich Yusov [Вадим Иванович Юсов].

Died: 23 August 2013, Moscow, Russia.

Education: VGIK, Moscow [graduated in 1954].

Career: Worked in a metal factory in Moscow [1947-49]. Was chief doph at Mosfilm from 1957-99.

Was a member of the RGC.

Appeared in the doc's 'Posle Tarkovskogo/After Tarkovsky' [2003, Peter Shepotinnik; ph: Boris Chertkov, Denis Alarkon, a.o.; 59m] & 'Rerberg i Tarkovskiy. Obratnaya storona Stalkera/Rerberg and Tarkovsky. The Reverse Side of 'Stalker'' [2008, Igor Maiboroda; ph: Pavel Lebeshev, Sergei Kozlov, Uri Klimenko, Vadim Alisov, a.o.; 140m].

Awards: People's Artist of the USSR [1979]; Lenin Prize [1980] for 'Karl Marks. Molodye gody'; Venice FF 'Golden Osella' [1988] & 'Nika' Award nom [1989] for 'Chyornyj monakh'; 'Nika' Award [1991] for 'Pasport'; 'Nika' Award [1992] for 'Prorva'; 'Triumph' Award [1994] for the 'Encouragement of the Achievements in Art and Literature'; Special Prize of the President of Russia [2002]; Manaki Brothers International Film Camera Festival 'Life Achievement Award' [2004]; Plus Camerimage 'Lifetime Achievement Award' [2012].

"Ivanovo detstvo/Ivan's Childhood"

With Andrei Tarkovsky [right]


About Andrei Tarkovsky: 'We didn't know each other at school. I had already been working at the Mosfilm studio for a while when he was preparing his diploma film and asked me to work with him. He told me he had watched several films I had photographed and that he would like to work with me on the film 'The Steamroller and the Violin' which was based upon a stage play. At that time I was just finishing my apprenticeship and was beginning to work as an independent cameraman. [...] When we were doing 'Ivan's Childhood' he was young, he had no experience, he didn't know much about the role of the cameraman, the set designer, and also of the director. But I was never his teacher. During the filming of 'Andrei Rublev' we worked together, we searched and studied together. By then we already had certain experience - for us this was an especially interesting time. We searched for truth... I am a cameraman, a technician, thus I can say: "This can be done, I can undertake this assignment." But Tarkovsky frequently could not understand the limitations and this ignorance made him bold - he thought things would be easy to do and he could have very daring ideas, he could invent anything, in total freedom. Namely, thinking up images [visions, imaginary scenes] - this is exactly how we shot. We didn't invent anything, no new film technique, but we did frequently create a kind of new expression. […] It's difficult for me to say which of Tarkovsky's films I like most. Those, however, which I photographed are a unique experience of my life. While studying at the VGIK I only had an illusion of taking part in artistic creation. Thanks to his films I became a real cameraman and I understood what true creation was.'

'Zerkalo/The Mirror' [1973]: 'I refused to photograph 'The Mirror'. There were several reasons. Firstly, I worked so much and for so long mainly with Tarkovsky. When the cameraman and the director work together for too long, the cameraman can sometimes feel he is under too strong a pressure from the director, on his own territory, and this isn't good for the film. Working together on one film for a very long time is particularly detrimental to mutual relationships. Pressure and possessiveness lead to weariness. […] Another reason to give up working on 'The Mirror' was my lack of understanding of this screenplay's concept. Of course the screenplay and the film are two different things, but already at the level of the screenplay I saw something important there which I couldn't understand and couldn't accept. […] On top of that the theme of the screenplay contained biographical elements from Tarkovsky's life. I felt the personal expression of the director could turn against the film and against me. I felt that during the preparatory stages Tarkovsky wanted to eliminate my ideas completely, my manner of perception, that he would want to direct only his vision. I thought that would be disadvantageous to me. And the third reason: when the production started, Tarkovsky's life underwent a profound change - the influence of his wife Larissa became too strong. In this situation Tarkovsky went along with the new family life, eliminating the influence of his old acquaintances. That's why I thought I could not do that film.' [From interview with Hiroshi Takahashi in 'The Superior Ritz Cinema', 1992.]

Obituary: It is sometimes difficult to assess how and how much directors of photography contribute to films. However, nobody watching Andrei Tarkovsky's visual masterpieces 'Andrei Rublev' and 'Solaris' could fail to be struck by the remarkable cinematography of Vadim Yusov, who has died aged 84.

Yusov was Tarkovsky's favorite cinematographer, having shot four of the director's eight films. Yusov also shot four features for Sergei Bondarchuk, another great of Russian cinema.

Tarkovsky's films are some of the most personal, poetic and powerful statements to have come out of eastern Europe. In contrast, Bondarchuk's films, while also imbued with a rich pictorial sense, have an objective, epic grandeur. "Tarkovsky and Bondarchuk were worlds apart," declared Yusov. "It was my job to enter both their worlds."

When the 29-year-old Tarkovsky approached Yusov to shoot his diploma film, 'The Steamroller and the Violin' [1960], he was still a student at VGIK, Russia's leading film school. Yusov, who was three years older, had graduated from VGIK six years previously, but had only been assistant cameraman on a few films.

On Tarkovsky's first feature-length film, 'Ivan's Childhood' [1961], Yusov commented: "Tarkovsky frequently could not understand the limitations and this ignorance made him bold - he thought things would be easy to do and he could have very daring ideas, he could invent anything, in total freedom."

'Andrei Rublev' [1964], eight imaginary episodes in the life of the great 15th-century icon painter, was majestically photographed in black-and-white on the Sovscope screen by Yusov, ending in a color montage doing full justice to the paintings.

Jumping from the distant past to the distant future, 'Solaris' [1971], set on a space station where the people in the thoughts of the astronauts materialize, managed to convince technologically without reliance on special effects. However, Tarkovsky noted in his diary: "Work on 'Solaris' has been hell. Yusov and I are constantly arguing," while Yusov found the film "an endless search and trial".

Yusov refused to shoot Tarkovsky's next film, 'The Mirror' [1973] [see above].

With Bondarchuk, there were only "minor conflicts". For 'Red Bells, parts I & II' - a four-hour 70mm chronicle of the Russian and Mexican revolutions in the early 20th century - filmed in the Soviet Union, Italy and Mexico, Yusov had to shoot about 10,000 people per scene per day. "It was very difficult and the film wasn't really seen by very many people, but the work is very dear to me," Yusov recalled.

While making films, Yusov taught at the State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow.

His wife, Inna Zelentsova, who worked as a sound editor, died in 2000. [From obituary by Ronald Bergan in The Guardian, 26 August 2013.]



Obyknovennyi celovek/An Ordinary Man/A Common Man [Aleksandr Stolbov] b&w; cph: Konstantin Brovin


Stranitsy iz rasskazu/Pages from a Story/Destiny of a Man [Boris Kryzhanovsky & Mikhail Tereshchenko] b&w; short/?m; cph: Vladimir Boganov & Nikolai Vlasov


Trevozhnaya noch'/Alarming Night [Tatiana Berezantseva] tvm


Leili i Medjnun/Leila and Majnun [Tatiana Berezantseva & Gafar Valamat-Zadeh] c; ballet film/77m


Katok i skripka/The Steamroller and the Violin/Violin and Roller [Andrei Tarkovsky] c; short/50m; prod VGIK


Ivanovo detstvo/Ivan's Childhood/My Name Is Ivan/The Youngest Spy [Andrei Tarkovsky (replaced Eduard Abalov)] b&w


Ya shagayu po Moskve/I Step Through Moscow/Meet Me in Moscow/I Walk Around Moscow [Georgi Danelia] b&w


Andrei Rublyov/Andrei Rublev/St. Andrei Passion [Andrei Tarkovsky] ss/b&w-c; 165m, 183m & 205m; filmed 1964-65; general release USSR in December 1971; director's version in 1988; restored in 2003 (superv by doph Anatoli Petritsky & V. Yusov)


Ne goryuj/Don't Grieve/Cheer Up!/Do Not Worry! [Georgi Danelia] c


[Left] - "Solyaris"



Solyaris/Solaris [Andrei Tarkovsky] ss/b&w-c; 165m; sfx ph: V. Sevostyanov; released in 1973


Sovsem propashchij/The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn/Hopelessly Lost [Georgi Danelia] ss/c


Zerkalo/The Mirror [Andrei Tarkovsky] b&w-c; ph: Georgi Rerberg; V. Yusov refused to shoot this film; see above


Oni srazhalis za rodinu/They Fought for Their Country [Sergei Bondarchuk] ss/c; 137m


Yuliya Vrevskaya/Julia Vrevskaya [Nikola Korabov] c; 139m


Karl Marks. Molodye gody/Karl Marx: The Young Years/Karl Marx: The Early Years [Lev Kulidzhanov] 7-part tv-series


Krasnye kolokola [, film pervyj - Meksika v ogne]/Mexico in Flames/Red Bells Part I - Mexico on Fire [Sergei Bondarchuk] 35mm, ss & ss70/c; 135m


Krasnye kolokola [, film vtoroy - Ya videl rozhdeniye novogo mira]/Red Bells Part II - I Saw the Birth of the New World [Sergei Bondarchuk] 35mm, ss & ss70/c; 273m


Boris Godunov [Sergei Bondarchuk] c; 141m


Chyornyj monakh/The Black Monk [Ivan Dykhovichniy] b&w-c


Domik u okolitsy/The House at the Edge of the Village [Lev Kulidzhanov] b&w; finished, but unreleased; later shown on tv


Pasport/The Passport [Georgi Danelia] c; cph: Sergei Sidorov


Anna: Ot shesti do vosemnadtsati/Anna: From Six Till Eighteen [Nikita Mikhalkov] b&w-c; doc/100m; cph: Pavel Lebeshev, Vadim Alisov & Elizbar Karavayev; filmed 1980-91; released in 1993


Prorva/Moscow Parade [Ivan Dykhovichniy] c


Vspominaya Chekhova/Remembering Chekov [Nikita Mikhalkov] unfinished


Iz nastoyashchego/Out of the Present [Andrei Ujica] b&w-c; doc/96m; space ph by cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev (May 1991-March 1992)


Podstrochnik/Word for Word/One's Own Voice [Oleg Dorman] 15-part (14x 26m + 1x 43m) doc tv-series/b&w-c; cph: O. Dorman & Rodion Varshavsky; Liliana Lungina's autobiographical monologue was filmed during 7 days in February; released in 2008


Chto skazal pokojnik/What Has the Deceased Said [Igor Maslennikov] 10-part tv-series, 2000; cph: Vladimir Ilyin


Kopeyka/The Kopeck [Ivan Dykhovichniy] c; cph: Aleksandr Ilkhovsky & Vladimir Mezhekov; + small part


Den'gi/Money [Ivan Dykhovichniy] 30-part (x 52m) tv-series, 2002


The Lost Secret of Catherine the Great/Le secret perdu de Cathérine la Grande [Peter Woditsch] tv-doc/b&w-c/52m & 64m/DigiBeta; cph: Hans Sonnefeld, Frans Leys & Pierre Gordower


Bolshoy Vals/The Great Waltz/Olympia [Vladimir Menchov] unfinished


Apelsinoviy sok/Orange Juice [Andrei Proshkin] c




Opasnye tropy/Dangerous Trails [Aleksandr & Yevgeni Alekseyev] c.asst; ph: Boris Volchek & Levan Paatashvili


Poprygunya/The Grasshopper [Samson Samsonov] c.asst; ph: Fyodor Dobronravov & Vladimir Monakhov


Chisto anglijskoye ubijstvo/A Very English Murder [Samson Samsonov; 2-part tvm] co-scrpl; ph: Arkadi Chapayev & Yevgeni Guslinsky


Vent de galerne [Bernard Favre] c; visual adv battle scenes; ph: Jean-François Gondre