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Vittorio Storaro Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (1) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (5) | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (1)

Born in Rome, Lazio, Italy

Mini Bio (1)

Vittorio Storaro, the award-winning cinematographer who won Oscars for "Apocalypse Now (1979)", "Reds (1981)" and "The Last Emperor (1987)". He was born on June 24, 1940 in Rome, where his father was a projectionist at the Lux Film Studio. At the age of 11, he began studying photography at a technical school. He enrolled at C.I.A.C (Italian Cinemagraphic Training Centre) and subsequently continued his education at the state cinematography school Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. When he enrolled at the school at the age of 18, he was one of its youngest students ever.

At the age of 20, he was employed as an assistant cameraman and was promoted to camera operator within a year. Storaro spent several years visiting galleries and studying the works of great painters, writers, musicians and other artists. In 1966, he went back to work as an assistant cameraman on Before the Revolution (1964), one of the first films directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Storaro earned his first credit as a cinematographer in 1968 for "Giovinezza, giovinezza". His third film was "The Spider's Stratagem (1970)" which began his long collaboration with Bertolucci. He also shot "The Conformist (1970)", "Last Tango in Paris (1972)", "Luna (1979)", "The Sheltering Sky (1990)_", "Little Buddha (1993)," for Bertolucci.

He won his first Oscar for the cinematography of "Apocalypse Now (1979)", for which director Francis Ford Coppola gave him free rein to design the visual look of the picture. Storaro originally had been reluctant to take the assignment as he considered Gordon Willis to be Coppola's cinematographer, but Coppola wanted him, possibly because of his having shot "Last Tango in Paris (1972), which had starred Marlon Brando. Brando's performance in the film had been semi-improvised, and Coppola has planned on a similar tack for his scenes in the jungle with Brando's character Colonel Kurtz.

The results of their collaboration were masterful, and he later shot the 3-D short "Captain EO (1986)", the feature films "One from the Heart (1981)" and "Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)," and the "Life without Zoe" segment of "New York Stories (1989)" for Coppola. He won his second Oscar as the director of photography on Warren Beatty's "Reds (1981)" and subsequently shot "Dick Tracy (1990)" and "Bulworth (1998)" for Beatty He won his third Oscar as the director of photography on Bertolucci's Best Picture Academy Award-winner "The Last Emperor (1987)".

"All great films are a resolution of a conflict between darkness and light," Storaro says. "There is no single right way to express yourself. There are infinite possibilities for the use of light with shadows and colors. The decisions you make about composition, movement and the countless combinations of these and other variables is what makes it an art."

According to Storaro, "Some people will tell you that technology will make it easier for one person to make a movie alone but cinema is not an individual art." Storaro disagrees. "It takes many people to make a movie. You can call them collaborators or co-authors. There is a common intelligence. The cinema never has the reality of a painting or a photograph because you make decisions about what the audience should see, hear and how it is presented to them. You make choices which super-impose your own interpretations of reality."

Storaro believes that, "It is our obligation to defend the audiences' rights to see the images and to hear the sounds the way we have expressed ourselves as artists,".

During the 1970s, the metaphor of cinematography as 'painting with light' took hold. Storaro, however, adds motion to the mix. Cinematography, to the great D.P., is writing with light and motion, the literal translation of the word cinematography, which derives from Greek

"It describes the real meaning of what we are attempting to accomplish," Storaro says. "We are writing stories with light and darkness, motion and colors. It is a language with its own vocabulary and unlimited possibilities for expressing our inner thoughts and feelings."

As a cinematographer, he is highly innovative. He had Rosco International fabricate a series of custom color gels for his lighting, which he used to implement his theories about emotional response to color. The "Storaro Selection" of color gels is available for other cinematographers from Rosco.

He created the "Univision" film system, which is a 35mm format based on film stock with three perforation that provides an aspect ratio of 2:1, which Storaro feels is a good compromise between the 2.35:1 and 1.85:1 wide-screen ratios favored by most filmmakers. Storaro developed the new technology with the intention of 2:1 becoming the universal aspect ratio for both movies and television in the digital age. He first shot the television mini-series "Dune" with the Univision system.

Storaro is the youngest person to receive the American Society of Cinematographer's Lifetime Achievement Award, and only the second recipient after Sven Nykvist not to be a U.S. citizen.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Trade Mark (1)

Scenes are often illuminated with light from the side instead of overhead. For interiors the main source of light appeared to come through windows; for exteriors, the sun low in the sky.

Trivia (5)

Had a series of custom color gels produced by Rosco International, which he formulated to comply with his theories about emotional response to color. Rosco markets these gels as "The Storaro Selection".
Created the "Univisium" system - a 3-perforation 35mm format with an aspect ratio of 2:1 - with the intention of this becoming a universal aspect ratio for both film and TV. He has insisted on cropping all of his movies to the 2:1 aspect ratio in order for his films to comply with the Univision system.
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 44th Cannes International Film Festival in 1991.
Member of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 44th Venice International Film Festival in 1987.
Storaro's love of film can be traced to his father, who was a projectionist at Lux Films. Storaro still retains vivid childhood memories of being by his father's side watching dailies day after day.

Personal Quotes (6)

[shooting Woody Allen's first digital film] I had seen that the Sony F65 was capable of recording beautiful images in 4K and 16 bit-colour depth in 1:2, which is my favorite composition. So when Woody called me this year asking me to be the cinematographer of his new film with the working title 'Wasp 2015,' my decision was already made. I convinced him to record the film in digital, so we can begin our journey together in the digital world. It's time now for the Sony F65! [2015]
[on his projectionist father] My father put the dream of working as a cinematographer into my heart.
[on Muhammad: The Messenger of God (2015) and Univisium] I used this composition system that I like very much, called Univisium. A relationship between the vertical area, one time, for the result area, two times. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) gave me inspiration through his own paintings, particularly "The Last Supper". I found a perfect balance between those to perform. I was tired of using so many different numbers in composition. If you remember, the silent cinema was 1.33; with sound, it was 1.37; French Panoramic, it was 1.66; English Panoramic, it was 1.85; new, modern television was 1.79; 75mm was 2.21; Anamorphic is 2.40. It's a chaos of numbers. Leonardo said something very simple: the most balance between composition areas is 1:2 - like two square parts for the eyes. [2015]
Francis Ford Coppola proposed to me to do One from the Heart (1981) using electronic technology. I said, "Francis, let's use every electronic technology for pre-production and post-production, but keep the film to record the master of the film, because this is the best technology to screen the film all around the world." And he said, "Vittorio, I think you're right. But you will say, in the near future, I was right." He was right. Not necessarily in the near-future, because the time took twenty years to really change the photochemical-electronic relationship. [2015]
So when I approached, recently, Woody Allen to do his new movie, I said to myself, "I have to realize that progress is one word - that you cannot stop it. You can push it or you can slow it down, but you cannot stop it. So it's much better to be conscious now of this kind of evolution. It's better to be part of this evolution in order for you to know this new system, to do whatever you can to make it better." So I did my film with Woody Allen. It finished one week ago in digital, using the camera that I think was more appropriate for me, which is the Sony F65, because it has the major chance to record a digital image. It has 4K information, digitally. It has 16-bit color depth, which means millions of colors. [2015]
My first film was done in black-and-white, because, in 1968, it was the will of many directors, producers, whatever, to do dramatic films in black-and-white, because they were scared to film in color in a dramatic area. At the time, people thought that maybe color was not recorded well in the shadows. A dramatic story needs conflict, so needs contrast between light and shadows. But, after the first film, I started to investigate color. At the time, I was too young to be conscious about the decision; the industrial journey took me into this color decision. But, pretty soon, it became my own decision. After the third film, I said, "No. I really need to express myself in color." And I rejected some projects that they proposed to me that were all in black-and-white, because I was missing the emotion of color. [2015]

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