Cinematographer. Nationality: Russian. Born: Edward Kazimirovich Tisse in Lithuania, 13 April 1897. Career: Newsreel cameraman; 1918—photographer on the "agit-trains" during the Russian Revolution (footage used by both Esther Shub and Dziga Vertov); photographed the first Soviet film, Signal; worked with Sergei Eisenstein during his entire career, and accompanied him to Western Europe and the United States, photographed documentary or chronicle films Warm Company, Kino-Pravda no. 21 (Cine-Truth about Lenin), The Kremlin Past and Present, Face the Village, From Ore to Rail, Poisonous Gases, and Roman Karman's film on the Kara-Kum expedition. Died: In Moscow 18 November 1961.
Films as Cinematographer:
Signal (Arkatov) (co)
Serp i molet (Sickel and Hammer ) (Gardin); Golod . . . golod . . . golod (Hunger . . . Hunger . . . Hunger) (Pudovkin and Gardin)
Starets Vasili Gryaznov (Elder Vasili Gryaznov) (Sabinsky)
The Gold Reserve (Gardin); Stachka (Strike) (Eisenstein) (co); Bronenosets Potemkin (Battleship Potemkin) (Eisenstein)
Medvezhya svadba (The Bear's Wedding) (Gardin and Eggert) (co)
Oktiabr (October; Ten Days That Shook the World) (Eisenstein)
Staroie i novoie (Old and New; The General Line) (Eisenstein)
Romance sentimentale (Eisenstein and Alexandrov); Frauennot-Frauenglück(+ d)
Que Viva Mexico! (Eisenstein—unfinished; various films edited from this footage include Thunder over Mexico, Death Day, Eisenstein in Mexico, Time in the Sun, and others)
Aerogard (Air City; Frontier) (Dovzhenko) (co)
Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein)
The Ferghana Canal (Eisenstein)
Ivan Grozny (Ivan the Terrible, Part I) (Eisenstein) (co)
In the Mountains of Yugoslavia (Room)
Vsetrecha na Elba (Meeting on the Elbe) (Alexandrov)
Kompozitor Glinka (Glinka; Man of Music) (Alexandrov)
The Immortal Garrison (+ co-d)
Ivan Grozny II: Boyarskii Zagover (Ivan the Terrible, Part II: The Boyars' Plot) (Eisenstein—produced 1946) (co)
By TISSE: articles—
On Old and New in Sovietsky Ekran (Moscow), 11 December 1926.
Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), no. 2, 1929.
Sovietsky Ekran (Moscow), 25 January 1929.
Cinema Nuovo (Turin), October 1956.
Film und Fernsehen (Berlin), no. 3, 1980.
On TISSE: articles—
Films in Review (New York), January 1954.
Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), no. 12, 1961.
Focus on Film (London), no. 13, 1973.
Film und Fernsehen (Berlin), no. 1, 1978.
American Cinematographer (Hollywood), July 1991.
Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), August 1996.
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Edward Tisse is best known for his work with director Sergei Eisenstein. Tisse was, however, among the pioneers of the Soviet cinema, working with such people as Vertov and Pudovkin before his long, successful partnership with Eisenstein began. His early career as a newsreel cameraman on World War and Russian Civil War fronts earned him a reputation as both a skilled and fearless technician. He participated in newsreel and feature film projects which would later be viewed as the beginnings of a new Russian cinema.
Tisse headed the film crew of the first "agit-train," a train staffed and equipped to produce printed materials, plays, and films specifically for the moral support of the Red Army troops. In addition, he photographed what is sometimes referred to as the first "Soviet" feature film—director Alexander Arkatov's Signal. The film was the first feature produced by the Moscow branch of the Cinema Committee, the first Soviet Russia film organization. Tisse's demonstrated skill with both newsreel footage and features, his bold personality, and his enthusiasm for experimentation led to a collaboration which spanned almost a quarter of a century. In 1923, Tisse was selected to photograph Eisenstein's first film, Strike.
The realization of Strike was due to a great extent to Tisse. He not only possessed the technical knowledge which Eisenstein lacked at the time, but also understood and agreed with the director's "montage of attractions." The partnership continued to develop with the shooting of Eisenstein's second feature, Battleship Potemkin. The two artists complemented each other. Tisse was inspired to further experimentation with the technology at his disposal to make Eisenstein's artistic vision a filmic reality. For the Odessa Steps sequence, Tisse set up a camera trolley the length of the steps, creating one of the first dolly shots in Russian film history. The origins of what would become conventions of documentary film technique are also visible in scenes like the one shot in an actual ship's engine room.
Tisse continued to work with Eisenstein on Old and New (The General Line) and October. Eisenstein's detailed planning of each film coupled with the fact that director and cameraman understood each other so well made it possible for Tisse to shoot scenes with the eventual juxtaposition of images in mind. This facilitated editing of every montage sequence but was particularly beneficial in the production of October, with its numerous and complex intellectual montage sequences.
During the early 1930s Tisse left Russia to travel with Eisenstein through Europe, America, and Mexico. The official reason for the trip was the study of sound film techniques in other countries. In addition to this pursuit, other projects were undertaken. Much time was devoted to researching and filming Eisenstein's never completed Que Viva Mexico! Also during this period, Tisse directed a feature-length film on abortion while in Switzerland.
Upon returning to Russia, Tisse resumed his experimentation with tone and emotional tension begun in earlier films. He had previously used shades of light and darkness and different degrees of soft focus to create emotional tension. He perfected these techniques during Eisenstein's sound film period. Tisse's mastery of tonal composition is best demonstrated in Alexander Nevsky. In one exemplary sequence the choice of lenses and the use of a special filter transformed the atmosphere of a hot July day into the "Battle on the Ice." In this particular scene Tisse also slowed down the hand-cranked camera to control the rhythm and the tension of the battle. He utilized similar methods in photographing the exterior scenes for both parts of Ivan the Terrible, Eisenstein's final films.