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Delli Colli, Tonino

DELLI COLLI, Tonino



Cinematographer. Nationality: Italian. Born: Antonio Delli Colli in Rome, 20 November 1923. Career: Worked as camera assistant; 1943—first film as cinematographer, Finalmente sì; 1951—shot first Italian color film, Totò a colori.Awards: Silver Ribbon, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, 1965, for Il vangelo secondo Matteo, 1968, for La Cina è vicina, 1982, for Tales of Ordinary Madness, 1985, for Once Upon a Time in America, 1987, for Der Name der Rose, 1998, for Marianna Ucrìa; British Academy Award, Best Cinematography, for Once Upon a Time in America, 1985; David di Donatello Award, Best Cinematography, for Marianna Ucrìa, 1997, and for La Vita è bella, 1998.


Films as Cinematographer:

1943

Finalmente sì (Kish); Il paese senza pace (Le Baruffe Chiozzotte) (Menardi)

1945

O Sole mio (Gentilomo) (co)

1946

Trepidazione (Frenguelli); Felicità perduta (Ratti) (co)

1947

La lunga manica (Mantici—short); Il quirinale (Mantici—short)

1948

L'isola di Montecristo (Sequi); La città dolente (Bonnard)

1949

L'esperienza del cubismo (Pelligrini—short); Liszt (Micucci—short); La strada (Fugitive Lady) (Salkow); Nerone e Messalina (Zeglio)

1950

Arte e realtà (Giovannini and Mayer—short); Alina (Pastina); Il voto (Bonnard); Io sono il Capataz! (Simonelli)

1951

Milano Miliardaria (Metz, Marchesi, and Girolami); Totò a colori (Totò in Color) (Steno); Gli undici moschettieri (Saraceni and De Concini); Jolanda la figlia del corsaro nero (Soldati); I tre corsari (Soldati); Fratelli d'italia (Saraceni); Gioventù alla sbarra (Cerio)

1953

Dov'è la libertà? (Rossellini) (co); Totò e le donne (Steno and Monicelli); Il sacco di Roma (Cerio); Ti ho sempre amato (Costa); Amori di mezzo secolo (Pellegrini and others)

1954

Rosso e nero (Paolella); Tradita (La notte delle nozze) (Bonnard); L'ombra (Bianchi); Le signorine della 04 (Franciolini)

1955

Angelo bianco (Matarazzo); L'intrusa (Matarazzo); Piccola posta (Steno); Accadde al penitenziario (Bianchi)

1956

Donatella (Monicelli); Una voce, una chitarra, un po' di luna (Gentilomo); Poveri ma belli (Poor but Beautiful) (D. Risi); Buon appetito (Saraceni—short); Vecchie amicizie (Saraceni—short); Il Nilo di pietra (Rondi—short)

1957

Femmine tre volte (Steno); La nonna Sabella (Grandmother Sabella) (D. Risi); Susanna tutta panna (Steno); Seven Hills of Rome (Rowland); Belle ma povere (Beautiful But Poor) (D. Risi); Adorabili e bugiarde (Malasomma)

1958

Venezia, la luna, e tu (Venice, the Moon, and You) (D. Risi); Marinai, donne e guai (Simonelli) (co); Primo amore (Camerini); Poveri milionari (Poor Millionaires) (D. Risi); L'amico del giaguaro (Bennati)

1959

Le cameriere (Bragaglia); Il Mondo di notte (Vanzi)

1960

Il ladro di Bagdad (The Thief of Bagdad) (Lubin and Vailati)

1961

Morgan il pirata (Morgan the Pirate) (Zeglio and De Toth); Le meraviglie di Aladino (The Wonders of Aladdin) (Levin); Accattone (Pasolini); Il nuovi angeli (Gregoretti) (co); Le spadaccino di Siena (La congiura dei dieci; The Swordsman of Siena) (Perier)

1962

Mamma Roma (Pasolini); La monaca di Monza (Gallone); La bella di Lodi (Missiroli)

1963

"La ricotta" ep. of Rogopag (Pasolini); El verdugo (Berlanga); "Naples" ep. of Les Plus Belles Escroqueries du monde (Gregoretti); "Amore e alfabeto" and "Amore e morte" eps. of Amore in quattro dimensioni (Mida and Guerrini)

1964

Liolà (Blasetti) (co); "Il generale" ep. of Amore pericolosi (Giannetti); Il vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew) (Pasolini); "La doccia" ep. of Extraconiugale (Franciosa); Comizi d'amore (Pasolini) (co)

1965

Le soldatesse (The Camp Followers) (Zurlini); Les Sultans (Delannoy); La mandragola (The Love Root) (Lattuada); "Le Monstre" and "Mourir pour vivre" eps. of Le Lit à deux places (Puccini)

1966

Andremo in città (N. Risi); Uccellacci e uccellini (The Hawks and the Sparrows) (Pasolini) (co); Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) (Leone)

1967

La Cina è vicina (Bellocchio); Questi fantasmi (Castellani); "Che cosa sono le nuvole?" ep. of Capriccio all'italiana (Pasolini)

1968

"William Wilson" ep. of Histoires extraordinaires (Spirits of the Dead) (Malle); Il giorno della civetta (Damiani); Niente rose per OSS 177 (Cerrato and Desagnat); C'era una volta il west (Once upon a Time in the West) (Leone); Metti, una sera a cena (Patroni Griffi)

1969

Porcile (Pigsty) (Pasolini) (co); Rosolino Paterno, soldato . . . (Loy)

1970

Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You (Amateau)

1971

Il Decamerone (The Decameron) (Pasolini); Cometogether (Swimmer); Homo eroticus (Vicario)

1972

I racconti di Canterbury (The Canterbury Tales) (Pasolini); Los amigos (Deaf Smith and Johnny Ears) (Cavara); Pilgrimage (Montresor); Un uomo da rispettare (A Man to Respect; The Master Touch; Hearts and Minds) (Lupo)

1973

Storie scellarate (Citti); Paolo il caldo (Vicario); Peccato veniale (Samperi); Lacombe Lucien (Malle)

1974

Mio Dio, come sono caduta in basso! (Comencini)

1975

Salo o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (Salo—The 120 Days of Sodom) (Pasolini); Pasqualino Settebellezza (Seven Beauties) (Wertmüller)

1976

Caro Michele (Monicelli); Anima persa (Lost Soul) (D. Risi)

1977

I nuovi mostri (Viva Italia) (Monicelli); Un Taxi mauve (The Purple Taxi) (Boisset)

1978

Primo amore (First Love) (D. Risi); Viaggio con Anita (Travels with Anita) (Monicelli)

1979

Caro Papà (Dear Father) (D. Risi); Revenge (Wertmüller)

1980

Macabro (Macabre) (Bava)

1981

"Armando's Notebook" ep. of Sunday Lovers (D. Risi); Storie di ordinaria follia (Stories of Ordinary Madness) (Ferreri)

1983

Zeder: Voices from Darkness (Avati); Trenchcoat (Tuchner)

1984

Once upon a Time in America (Leone); Il futore e donna (The Future Is a Woman) (Ferreri)

1986

Ginger e Fred (Fellini); The Name of the Rose (Annaud)

1987

Intervista (The Interview) (Fellini)

1989

Stradivari (Battiato)

1990

Die Ruckkehr (L'Africana) (von Trotta); Le voce della luna (The Voice of the Moon) (Fellini)

1991

Una storia semplice (A Simple Story) (Greco); Specialmente la domenica (Especially on Sunday) (Tornatore and others)

1992

Bitter Moon (Polanski)

1993

La Soif de l'or (The Thirst for Gold) (Oury)

1994

Death and the Maiden (Polanski)

1995

Facciamo paradiso (Monicelli)

1996

Marianna Ucrìa (Faenza)

1997

La Vita è bella (Life is Beautiful) (Benigni)



Film as Camera Assistant:

1940

La fanciulla di portici (Bonnard)



Publications


By DELLI COLLI: articles—

Rivista del Cinematografo (Rome), July 1965.

Bianco e Nero (Rome), April/June 1986.


On DELLI COLLI: articles—

Focus on Film (London), no. 13, 1973.

Delli Colli, Laura, in Les métiers du cinéma, Paris, 1986.

Kauffmann, Stanley, in New Republic, 7 December 1992.


*

"Metta, metta, Tonino il cinqanta, non abbia paura * * che le luce sfondi—faciamo questo carrello contro natura!"

Tonino Delli Colli is probably the only cinematographer who has had a poem addressed to him. A self-avowedly "instinctive" practitioner of his craft, Delli Colli holds a crucial position between genre cinema at its most dazzlingly ambitious (in the hands of Sergio Leone) and art cinema as embodied in the intensely innovative and challenging films of Pier Paolo Pasolini, author of the above verse.

It is an impossible task to find a visual signature common to Delli Colli's work with Rossellini, Louis Malle, Dino Risi, Bellocchio, or Federico Fellini, and that is without taking into account his strictly generic output—a string of films made with the Italian comic star Totò. And he is indeed the last person to wish such a common denominator to be apparent.

His approach is less to impose a common visual style upon a number of disparate projects than to apply an identical strategy. Thus the needs and wishes of the director are identified as precisely as possible and reconciled as closely as possible with the constraints and opportunities offered by a particular location (Delli Colli prefers location shooting) or set. Also to be taken into account are the needs of the performers—whether established stars (such as Magnani, who preferred to be lit a certain way, or Totò, whose vision, towards the end of his life, was failing) or nonprofessionals unused to the camera. Never a cinephile, Delli Colli's fascination has always been, and remains with the basic medium of photography—light, and its varying qualities depending on time, weather, geography and the subtle balances required between natural and artificial light.

Working on Accattone with Pasolini signaled a move away from genre cinema which Delli Colli has sustained up to the present, but it was not something which changed his working methods. He has remained pragmatic, approaching each project as it comes, with a precise and increasingly practiced eye for nuances in the quality of light and the possibilities film offers for going "contro natura."

Delli Colli's response to Pasolini's poetic demands is characteristically phlegmatic. Pasolini, he has said, could write of a "cinquanta" (a kind of lens), but he would not know what to do with one. On Accattone Delli Colli confronted a director innocent of any technical knowledge of film, but with a crystal clear idea of how he wanted the finished film to look. Delli Colli was shown Chaplin's City Lights and Dreyer's Joan of Arc (later reference points were to be early Italian religious painters and, for Mamma Roma, the paintings of Mantegna). To achieve the film's grainy look, Delli Colli took as inspiration such "yellow press" scandal sheets as Lo Specchio and shot on the then rarely-used Ferrania film.

In Sergio Leone he confronted someone whose starting point was also genre cinema and who had also had experience working as an assistant director but whose demands were, like Pasolini's, in a sense transgressive. Like Pasolini, Leone is concerned about rewriting myths and constructing a kind of prehistoric world. Behind it all is a very different dynamic, rhetorical and romantic and predicated on Leone's obsessive need to extend the dramatic moment far beyond its "natural" duration. Thus Delli Colli was able to bring into play an avidly mobile camera, ritualistically circling and tracking shots, zooms, and large close-ups, all of which tied the viewer into a dramatic space quite other than that of everyday experience.

Ideally, he has said, a cinematographer and a director must work as one, each automatically knowing what the other wants and can do, otherwise one works on a solely technical register. And for the best directors, he has said, it is impossible to make a bad shot; their knowledge of camera angle and framing will be so precise.

If there are times when one might wish for a different cinematic style, harsher, say for Malle's Lacombe Lucien, they are outweighed by wonder at the extraordinary breadth of range encompassed by Delli Colli's work—the sharply evocative images of The Gospel According to St. Matthew, the extraordinary sense of another time and place in The Decameron or Oedipus, the potent meld of romance and history in Leone's Westerns, the acerbic poetry of Accattone matching exquisitely the rawness of the nonprofessional players, the sterility of Salo and, more recently, the parade of Fellinian leitmotifs in The Voice of the Moon.

—Verina Glaessner

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