Cinematographer. Nationality: Italian. Born: Rome, 19 March 1923. Career: 1940—still photographer; 1945—camera assistant to G. R. Aldo; 1955—became director of photography; 1962—first film with Fellini, Boccaccio '70.Award: British Academy Award for All That Jazz, 1980.
Films as Cinematographer:
Senso (Visconti) (cam)
Pane, amore e . . . (Scandal in Sorrento) (Risi)
La ragazza del Palio (The Love Specialist; The Girl Who Rode in the Palio) (Zampa); Le notti bianchi (White Nights) (Visconti)
Borgo a Mozzano (Gandin); Anna di Brooklyn (Anna of Brooklyn) (Denham); The Naked Maja (Koster); Attila, flagello di Dio (Attila the Hun) (Francisci); Fast and Sexy
On the Beach (Kramer)
Jovanka e le altre (Five Branded Women) (Ritt); The Angel Wore Red (La sposa bella) (Johnson); Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers) (Visconti)
I due nemici (The Best of Enemies) (Hamilton); Fantasmi a Roma (Ghosts in Rome; Phantom Lovers) (Pietrangeli)
"Il lavoro" ("The Job") ep. of Boccaccio '70 (Fellini); Cronica familiare (Family Diary) (Zurlini); Il gattopardo (The Leopard) (Visconti)
Levi, oggi, domani (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) (De Sica); I compagni (The Organizer) (Monicelli)
La Bibbia (The Bible) (Huston)
Lo straniero (The Stranger) (Visconti)
Lo sbarco di Anzio (Battle for Anzio; Anzio) (Dmytryk); Candy (Marquand); Histoires extraordinaires (Spirits of the Dead) (Fellini, Malle and Vadim)
I girasoli (Sunflower) (De Sica); Satyricon (Fellini); The Secret of Santa Vittoria (Kramer)
Carnal Knowledge (Nichols)
Roma (Fellini); L'uomo della Mancha (The Man of La Mancha)
Amarcord (Fellini); Film d'amore e d'anarchia (Love and Anarchy) (Wertmüller)
Il bestione; Tutto a posto e niente in ordine
La divina creatura (Patroni and Griffi)
Il Casanova de Federico Fellini (Fellini's Casanova) (Fellini); Stürmtruppen (Samperi)
The End of the World in Our Usual Bed in a Night Full of Rain (Wertmüller)
Prova d'orchestra (Orchestra Rehearsal) (Fellini)
All That Jazz (Fosse)
La citta delle donne (City of Women) (Fellini); Popeye (Altman)
Bello mia bellezza mia; Five Days One Summer (Zinnemann)
E la nave va (And the Ship Sails On) (Fellini)
"Paris" sequences of American Dreamer (Rosenthal); Desiderio (Tato); Non ci resta che piangere (Troisi)
The Assisi Underground (Ramati); Red Sonja (Fleischer)
Hotel Colonial (Torrini)
Julia and Julia (del Monte)
The Adventures of Baron Münchhausen (Gilliam); Haunted Summer (Passer); Rent-a-Cop (London)
Mio caro Dr. Gräsler (Dear Dr. Gräsler; Bachelor) (Faenza)
Regarding Henry (Nichols)
Once Upon a Crime (Levy)
Wolf (Nichols); The Night and the Moment (Tatò)
La Sindrome di Stendhal (Stendhal's Syndrome) (Argento)
The White Hotel
By ROTUNNO: articles—
In La bottega della luce: i direttori della fotografia, by Stefano Consiglio and Fabio Ferzetti, Milan, 1983.
Positif (Paris), no. 266, April 1983.
Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), no. 355, January 1984.
Cinema Nuovo (Bari), May-June 1986.
Cinema Nuovo (Bari), January-February 1991.
Cinema Nuovo (Bari), November-December 1993.
On ROTUNNO: articles—
Focus on Film (London), special cinematography issue, no. 13, 1973 + filmo.
American Cinematographer (Hollywood), vol. 69, no. 3, March 1988.
American Cinematographer (Hollywood), vol. 70, no. 3, March 1989.
Film Comment (New York), vol. 25, no. 5, September-October 1989 + filmo.
American Cinematographer (Hollywood), vol. 75, June 1994.
* * *
From Kramer's On The Beach to Fellini's Satyricon, Visconti's The Leopard to Fosse's All That Jazz, Zurlini's Cronica familiare to Altman's Popeye, Giuseppe Rotunno, more than almost any other European lighting cameraman, has explored every corner of filmmaking. Despite his popularity with American directors, his best work has been in Italy, especially with Visconti, whose operator he was on Senso and who later used him on nearly all his films, including The Leopard, the glorious sun-struck Sicilian exteriors of which suggest that Rotunno, in slightly different circumstances, might have been one of the cinema's great photographers of vistas.
Rotunno is essentially a cameraman of colour. While Gianni di Venanzo, on films like La notte, L'eclisse and Salvatore Giuliano, was refining a style of matte blacks and blisteringly pale whites, Rotunno plunged into a sensual Goyaesque darkness (of which there is only a hint, sadly, in his shooting of Henry Koster's murky Goya bio-pic The Naked Maja). The prevailing sense in Rotunno's photography became one of rich colour, thickened and diluted with black. Before Gordon Willis won the title, he was surely cinema's reigning "Prince of Darkness," a fact which makes doubly odd Visconti's decision to use Pasquilino de Santis on The Damned, the most penumbral of all his films.
In Mario Monicelli's The Organiser and Valerio Zurlini's under-rated Cronica familiare, Rotunno showed he could adapt his style to working-class reality, but he truly established himself as a master with Visconti's episode "The Job" for the omnibus film Boccaccio '70, where a wealthy wife suggests, out of boredom and perversity, that she replace, for money, her husband's latest mistress. His lighting of the voluptuous Romy Schneider as she strolls half-nude around her claustrophobic lush bedroom perfectly conveys the life of people so gorged on sensation that they've lost their ability to relish anything but gutter flavours. Obviously the style ignited Fellini's interest, since he used it (and Rotunno) on almost all his later films, including Satyricon, the blackest and most gross of them all.
As European cinema declined in the 1970s, Rotunno worked increasingly in the United States, though seldom on films as interesting as his lighting of them. Often working for directors with reputations as mavericks or martinets (Altman on Popeye, Mike Nichols on Carnal Knowledge and Regarding Henry, Alan Pakula on Rollover, Bob Fosse on All That Jazz), he has had a bumpy Hollywood career, not helped by the fact that all his films, including even the staid Five Days One Summer with Fred Zinnemann, have almost uniformly flopped. But from the man who photographed The Leopard, much may yet be expected.