One of the greatest Soviet/Russian cinematographers Vadim Yusov (1929 – 23 August 2013) died today in Moscow. Last year he received the Life Achievement Award at the Camerimage.He was known mostly for his collaborations with director Andrey Tarkovsky. He won a number of the Russian Film Academy Nika Awards and Golden Osella Award at the Venice Film Festival .

His understanding of the profession of the cinematographer was express in one of his notes: “Films of each cameraman — his monologue. About the world as he understands it, about life as he feels it, about himself. And about the profession — very difficult and endlessly loved”.
For a whole generation of young school-aged kids, “amateurs”, aspiring filmmakers and professionals in the former USSR of the 1960's Vadim Yusov's cinematography in his first major film “Ivan’s Childhood” (director: Andrey Tarkovsky) was shockingly impressive.

Images in this film vividly and evidently showed how lighting, composition, framing, tone and movement can tell the same “old story” in a different way. Images were able to enrich the traditional plot with deep passion and to create an emotional attachment to the characters. The cinematography in the film “Ivan’s Childhood” was an education to all – young and old alike – of what the art cinematography can be capable of. The result was a shock! Nobody could imagine that such a trivial story as “Ivan’s Childhood” can be re-told with such visual power, inventiveness and vigor!

The photographic part of the film, full of symbolism and technical dexterity became an art by itself.

Since then, the name of Vadim Yusov then become and still is the synonym of the cutting edge, artistry , and innovations. In other words - the symbol of the High Art of the Cinematography.

Vadim Yusov's main talent as a cinematographer is his ability to immerse completely into the esthetics of the director and to find photographic ways of expression that fits the story.

One of the specific characteristics of Yusov’s creative method is the fact that being very inventive and improvisational in the artistic aspects of cinematography he must be very methodical and systematic. He always paid great attention to the nuts and bolts of his craft starting with the location scout , choices of lenses and cameras, selection of processing labs and film stocks , etc. etc. This dichotomy of the profession, also made Yusov an inventor. He developed several custom devices for camera movement and used them in “Ivan’s Childhood”, “ Andrey Rublov”, “ Solaris” and many others.

As we will remember Yusov's many achievements we need to mention one more side of his artistic talent, his creativity – the creative range, and the spectrum of genres of films he photographed is immense! It includes the liberating spirit of the XIV century in “Andrei Rublov “ , the disasters of World War Two in “Ivan’s Childhood“ and “ They fought for Fatherland”. Yusov’s artistry organically co-existed with the fictional world of “Solaris” and the modernism of the contemporary life of 1960's Moscow youth in “I walk through Moscow”.

Thanks to his mastership and artistic talent he was able to transform the character of light, the tonality of the image , the use of color, the camera movement and composition into atmospheres and realities into symbols of the times. Furthermore , the images in his films became a powerful visual illustration of the history of the Russian State itself. From the icon painter Andrey Rublov through the deep future in “Solaris “ where human ideals ,photographed by Vadim Yusov will resonate universally.

Yuri Neyman, ASC
Director of Photography,
Global Cinematography Institute. Los Angeles
www.globalcinematography.com