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Vittorio Storaro

Vittorio Storaro

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: June 24, 1940 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Italy Profession: director of photography

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A modern master of his art who came to prominence for his work on the films of Bernardo Bertolucci, Vittorio Storaro has also shot a number of English-language films, including several directed by Francis Ford Coppola ("Apocalypse Now" 1979, "One From the Heart" 1982, "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" 1988). Arguably the best cinematographer of his generation, he is unparalleled in his eloquent use of color and there is no director of photography on the scene in the 1990s who is as fully understanding of the comparisons between film composition and painting--so much so that his films seem to realize the cognizance of lighting that could only be attempted with a brush stroke by great painters. Storaro is more than a genius of lighting; he has demonstrated an understanding of the psychological and emotional potential of film which could never even be approached under the color film stocks used prior to the late 60s. Light and color for Storaro are expressions of the conscious and the unconscious. For example, each act of "The Last Emperor" (1987) has a color scheme to correspond to the level of the story. The first part of the film, in which the emperor is seen trying to commit suicide, is devoid of...

A modern master of his art who came to prominence for his work on the films of Bernardo Bertolucci, Vittorio Storaro has also shot a number of English-language films, including several directed by Francis Ford Coppola ("Apocalypse Now" 1979, "One From the Heart" 1982, "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" 1988). Arguably the best cinematographer of his generation, he is unparalleled in his eloquent use of color and there is no director of photography on the scene in the 1990s who is as fully understanding of the comparisons between film composition and painting--so much so that his films seem to realize the cognizance of lighting that could only be attempted with a brush stroke by great painters. Storaro is more than a genius of lighting; he has demonstrated an understanding of the psychological and emotional potential of film which could never even be approached under the color film stocks used prior to the late 60s. Light and color for Storaro are expressions of the conscious and the unconscious. For example, each act of "The Last Emperor" (1987) has a color scheme to correspond to the level of the story. The first part of the film, in which the emperor is seen trying to commit suicide, is devoid of almost all color except red while in the flashback sequences, the youngest part of the emperor's life is filled with the yellows of youth and new birth which almost devour the screen. Light becomes energy, but energy translated into an analytical force. In "Last Tango in Paris" (1972), orange becomes the color of passion, while in "The Conformist" (1971), the film is almost in black and white, but blue pierces through indicating the conflict between light and shadows.

The son of a film projectionist, Storaro began his career as a director of photography around 1961, working on short films such as "Estruscologia". His first feature film work came with "Giovinezza, Giovinezza/Youthful, Youthful" (1969) for director Franco Rossi. "La Strategia del Ragno/The Spider's Stratagem" (1969), his first collaboration with Bertolucci was originally made for TV, but was considered too visually appealing to be shown on a small screen. While he and the director continued working together, Storaro was also the cinematographer of choice for other filmmakers, notably for his signature ability to convey the sensuous world around the characters (and often objects) in a film. Storaro's world is rich and textured because of or despite the characters and storyline. After working on Bertolucci's epic "1900" (1976), the director of photography began working internationally more frequently. He was the cinematographer on "Agatha" and Bertolucci's "La Luna" in 1979. In the latter, the sexual tension bursts from the screen and at times Jill Clayburgh seems to be sexually teasing the air around her. But Storaro is best known for, and received his first Academy Award for, "Apocalypse Now", his initial effort with Francis Ford Coppola, one in which evil becomes seductive and shadows rule. Warren Beatty then lured Storaro to work on "Reds" (1981), for which Storaro won his second Oscar. His work combined the needs of a period piece with the needs of political and sexual passion.

In 1985, Storaro proved his ability to make leading ladies exquisite Hollywood-style, with his lighting of Michelle Pfeiffer in "Ladyhawke" (1985), one of her first major roles. Although "Ishtar" (1987), was one of the biggest disappointments in Hollywood history, no one faulted its look and with Coppola's "Tucker: The Man and His Dream", the energy of the lead character, his desires, and the overall yellowish hues become the seductress. Storaro was again nominated for an Oscar for Beatty's "Dick Tracy" (1990), which brought the comic strip to life with a full palette of whimsy and used primary colors. Also beautiful was Bertolucci's "The Sheltering Sky" (1990), which many critics panned for its content, but admitted was a visual elixir, the sand of the Sahara and the lure of adventure contrasting to harsh realities which are, themselves, perversely beautiful to behold. The audience is as reflective, and, at the same time, as relaxed as Debra Winger at the end of the film. All are bathed in afterglow. Some of Storaro's more recent films, such as Bertolucci's "Little Buddha" (1994) and Carlos Saura's "Taxi" (1996) and "Flamenco" (1997), have received less attention. Saura's "Tango" (1998), however, earned an Oscar-nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and benefited greatly from the cinematographer's input.

Storaro has worked on TV projects occasionally. He was the director of photography for the 1986 Emmy-winning NBC miniseries "Peter the Great" and also for ABC's 1988 attempt to revive "Omnibus". Storaro also photographed the 1993 special "Tosca From Rome" seen in the USA on PBS' "Great Performances". Additionally, he was the lighting and photographic consultant for the "Captain 3-Eo" 3-D film shown at Disney World and Disneyland. Storaro can be seen as one of the interview subjects in the documentary "Visions of Light" (1992) and was seen working and discussing his efforts in "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse", the 1991 documentary on the making of "Apocalypse Now".

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
5.
 Glorious Technicolor (1998) Interviewee
6.
 Omnibus (1988)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1951:
Began studying photography
1961:
Shot first short film, "Etruscologia/Profanatori di tombe"
1969:
Shot first feature film, "Giovinezza, Giovinezza/Youthful, Youthful"; directed by Franco Rossi
1970:
First screen collaboration with Bernardo Bertolucci, "The Spider's Strategem"
1972:
Shot internationally acclaimed "Last Tango in Paris", directed by Bertolucci
1979:
Won first Academy Award for "Apocalypse Now"; worked with Francis Ford Coppola for first time
1981:
Won second Academy Award for "Reds", directed by Warren Beatty
1986:
First work for US TV, "Peter the Great"
1986:
Served as lighting and photographic consultant for Disney World's 3-D film, "Captain Eo"
1987:
Was director of photography on the disastrous "Ishtar"
1987:
Broke new ground in cinematography with Bertolucci's "The Last Emperor"; won third Oscar
1990:
Nominated for Academy Award for Beatty's "Dick Tracy"; same year shot Bertolucci's "The Sheltering Sky"
1992:
Was interviewed in documentary "Visions of Light"
1993:
Did cinematography for TV special "Tosca From Rome"
1998:
Shot Carlos Saura's Oscar-nominated foreign film "Tango"
1998:
Was director of photography for Warren Beatty again "Bullworth"
1999:
Collaborated again with Saura on "Goya in Bordeaux"
2000:
Served as cinematographer on the TV miniseries "Frank Herbert's Dune" (Sci-Fi Channel); received Emmy
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Duca D'Aosta Technical Photographic Institute: - 1951 - 1956
Italian Cinemagraphic Training Center: - 1956 - 1958
Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia: - 1960

Notes

"I can honestly say that I don't see myself doing anything else but trying to express myself through light in cinematography. . . . Photography for me, means writing with light. It's writing in the sense that I'm trying to express something that is inside of me. With my sensibility, my structure, my cultural background, I'm trying to express what I really am. I'm trying to describe the story of the film through the light." --Vittorio Storaro quoted in "The Illustrated Who's Who of the Cinema"

"All movies are the resolution between light and shadows. Light reveals truth, shadows obscure it." --Vittorio Storaro in THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 1994

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Antonia LaFolla. Married on December 29, 1962.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Renato Storaro. Projectionist. Worked for Lux Film.
mother:
Teodolindo Storaro.
daughter:
Francesca Storaro.
son:
Fabrizio Storaro.
son:
Giovanni Storaro.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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