Cinematography Month: Vittorio Storaro

vittoro

Selected Filmography:

–        The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (dir. Dario Argento, 1970)

–        The Conformist (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970)

–        The Spiders Stratagem (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970)

–        Last Tango In Paris (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972)

–        1900 (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 1976)

–        Apocalypse Now (dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)

–        Reds (dir. Warren Beatty, 1981)

–        One From the Heart (dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1982)

–        The Last Emperor (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 1987)

–        Dick Tracy (dir. Warren Beatty, 1990)

–        Little Buddha (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 1993)

–        Bulworth (dir. Warren Beatty, 1998)

–        Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (dir. Paul Schrader, 2005)

Vittorio Storaro is an absolute master, considered by many to be the greatest living cinematographer. I’m not going to argue with this. In fact, if you really forced me to choose I’d have to confess that I think his work on The Conformist is close to perfect. Every frame is rich with meaning and displays the photography of a true intellectual. Storaro collaborated many times with Bernardo Bertolucci and it is obvious they had a very clear understanding of each other. The lighting strategies Storaro employs are perfect visual metaphors for the central characters various emotional states. In The Conformist patterned shadows trap Marcello like prison bars, apt for his impossible predicament and equally fitting for a film set in Mussolini’s fascist Italy.

Storaro is also well known for his work with Francis Ford Coppola, famously on Apocalypse Now. Later he collaborated with Warren Beatty on Reds, Dick Tracy and Bulworth. However, one of his earliest films (actually shot the same year as The Conformist) is The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, a neat giallo directed by none other than Dario Argento (his debut feature). If you can get a hold of this film I strongly recommend it.

The conformist

I also recommend Storaro’s excellent book Writing with Light in which he discusses the influence of artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Caravaggio. Each painter was a master of using light and so too is Storaro. The Plato’s cave allegory in The Conformist is a marvellous example of this. Storaro also believes strongly in the ability colour has to affect emotion and thus his palettes are carefully thought out (influenced by Goethe’s Theory of Colours).

Storaro is also distinguished as being a three-time Oscar winner for his work on Apocalypse Now, Reds and The Last Emperor.   

Last emperor

Below are some links to a few interviews with the man himself, as well as a link to his official site. The last link is from the site The Hollywood Interview which features a wealth of interviews with a hoard of great people.

Vittorio Storaro’s Official Website

A Conversation with Vittorio Storaro

The Hollywood Interview Blogspot with Vittorio Storaro

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