Storaro, Vittorio

views updated Jun 08 2018

STORARO, Vittorio

Cinematographer. Nationality: Italian. Born: Rome, 24 June 1940. Education: Attended Duca D'Aosta photography school from age 11; Italian Cinemagraphic Training Center; degree, age 18; Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. Career: Apprenticed to a photographic studio; assistant to photographers Aldo Scavarda and Marco Scarpelli; made short films during the 1960s; 1969—first feature film as cinematographer, Giovinezza, giovinezza; first of several films for Bertolucci, The Spider's Strategem.Awards: Academy Award, for Apocalypse Now, 1979, Reds, 1981, and The Last Emperor, 1987; British Academy Award, for The Sheltering Sky, 1991; British Society of Cinematographers, Best Cinematography Award, for The Last Emperor, 1998. Address: Via Divino Amorez, 00040 Frattocchie (Rome) Italy.

Films as Cinematographer:



Etruscologia (Profanatori de tombe) (Romitelli)


L'urlo (Bazzoni)


Sortilegio (Bazzoni); Il laborinto (Maestranzi); Sirtaki (Bazzoni)


Rapporto segreto (Bazzoni)


Sed Lodge


I Grandi naíf jugoslavi (Bazzoni)


Captain Eo



Giovinezza, giovinezza (Rossi); Delitto al circolo del tennis (Rossetti); La strategia del ragno (The Spider's Strategem) (Bertolucci); L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) (Argento)


Il conformista (The Conformist) (Bertolucci); L'Eneide (Rossi)


Addio fratello crudele (Patroni Griffi); Giornata nera per l'ariete (Bazzoni); Corpo d'amore (Carpi)


Orlando furioso (Ronconi); Last Tango in Paris (L'ultimo tango a Parigi; Le dernier tango a Paris) (Bertolucci); Bleu gang . . . (Bazzoni)


Malizia (Samperi); Giordano Bruno (Montaldo); Identikit (Patroni Griffi)


Le orme (Bazzoni)


Scandalo (Samperi)


Novecento (1900) (Bertolucci)


La luna (Bertolucci); Agatha (Apted); Apocalypse Now (Coppola) (co)


Reds (Beatty)


One from the Heart (Coppola) (co)


Wagner (Palmer)


Ladyhawke (Donner)


Ishtar (E. May); The Last Emperor (Bertolucci)


Tucker: The Man and His Dream (Coppola)


Roma: Imago Urbis (L. Bazzoni)


"Life without Zoe" ep. of New York Stories (Coppola)


The Sheltering Sky (Bertolucci); Dick Tracy (Beatty)


Little Buddha (Bertolucci)


Tosca (G. Patroni Griffi)


Flamenco (C. Saura)


Taxi (C. Saura)


Bulworth (Beatty); Tango (C. Saura)


Mirka (Benhadj); Goya en Burdeos (Goya in Bordeaux)


Picking Up the Pieces; La Traviata (for TV); Dune (for TV—mini-series)


By STORARO: articles—

Chaplin (Stockholm), no. 4, 1978.

Positif (Paris), September 1979.

On Apocalypse Now in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), May 1980.

Cinema e Cinema (Bologna), July/September 1980.

On Reds in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), May 1982.

Segnocinema (Vicenza), March 1983.

Cinema Nuovo (Turin), August/October 1983.

Cinemasessanta (Rome), September/October and November/December 1983.

In Masters of Light: Conversations with Contemporary Cinematographers, by Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato, Berkeley, California, 1984.

Cineforum (Bergamo), January/February 1984.

Films (London), July 1984.

Post Script (Jacksonville, Florida), Autumn 1984 and Winter 1985.

American Cinematographer (Hollywood), March 1989.

Film Comment (New York), September/October 1989.

Griffithiana (Gemona), no. 37, December 1989.

Kino (Sofia), /9–10, 1991.

Cinema Nuovo (Bari), May-June 1991.

Kino (Warsaw), no. 28, February 1994.

Film Quarterly (Berkeley), vol. 48, no. 2, 1994/1995.

American Cinematographer (Hollywood), February 1995.

On STORARO: articles—

Filme (Berlin), no. 6, 1980.

Williams, A.L., in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), July 1980.

Assayas, O., in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), September 1981.

Film und TV Kameramann (Munich), June 1982.

Zambelli, M. I., in Cineforum (Bergamo), January/February 1984.

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

In Camera (Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire), Autumn 1988.

Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), no. 8, 1995.

Positif (Paris), March 1996.

Sight & Sound (London), May 1996.

* * *

Among many other things, Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola shows the conflict between two opposing civilizations. This battle finds expression through two visual emblems with distinctive sources of light and energy, the jungle and the spectacle. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) discovers in the jungle, and in the civilization which covers it, a primitive and vital energy, and it is this flux which fascinates him, and allows him to rediscover his own self.

In the character of Kurtz, Vittorio Storaro's art could not have found a better metaphor. His photography always tries to reach the spectator placed in the center of a conflict between antagonistic sources of energy, either natural or artificial. Storaro himself has defined his work: "Conflicts between night and day, shadows and light, white and black, technology and energy are things always recognized in me and my work." This conflict appeared already outlined in Giovinezza, giovinezza, his first film, through his treatment of light, as if Storaro wished to affirm the history of its use in a pictorial culture going back to the Renaissance, aligning himself in this way in the artistic tradition of Italian cinematography, along with Giuseppe Rotunno and Pasquale De Santis.

In the first phase of his work, up to Apocalypse Now, this conflict between opposing sources of energy appears essentially through his treatment of light, gaining true aesthetic definition after his meeting with Bernardo Bertolucci. In The Spider's Strategem, the first film they made together, Storaro explores all the possibilities of natural light, evoking, in the opinion of several European critics, the visual fascination of Visconti. By contrast, The Conformist seems to be an exercise in shadow and light, as if to transmit to the spectator the idea, central to history, of claustrophobia. In an interview in Film Quarterly, Storaro added: "The Conformist is almost a black-and-white picture in the beginning. But in the last half in Paris, you see differently. You see the light going into the shadows. It's like two sections that are united once more."

It is this same dualism and equilibrium between contraries that dominate Last Tango in Paris. Here Storaro attempts to reproduce winter light in Parisian exteriors, artificial light in the interiors, and mixes this with hot tones, especially the color orange, to reproduce the passion of the characters.

His photography of the Bertolucci films, which attained its most lyrical expression in Novecento, attracted the attention of Coppola, and Apocalypse Now crowns this first phase of his career. Hyperrealistic sequences such as the napalm bombardment, the Playboy-bunny show, and the nocturnal firing on Do Lung bridge, contrast with the natural jungle light. This contrast can be summed up perhaps in the comparison of the olive-oil lamp and the searchlight.

The second phase of Storaro's career also begins with Bertolucci, but attains its major splendor with both Bertolucci and Coppola. In La luna and Reds, Storaro claims to have established a color symbolism that had, unconsciously, emerged in The Conformist and Last Tango in Paris. In One from the Heart, Storaro's continued search for a system of color symbols, using opposing colors to identify his protagonists and a subtle correspondence between chromatic shades and characters' emotions, produces a beautiful contrast between the realism of action and the hyperrealism of photography. This exploration continues in The Last Emperor, which, arguably, ranks with Apocalypse Now as Storaro's greatest achievement. In recording the visuals that accompany the story of Pu Yi, the last emperor of China, Storaro evokes the many moods of a story which expands across the decades, as China evolves from feudalism to revolution. Especially memorable is the spectacle of the expansive, medieval Forbidden City (where Storaro shot on location). It also must be noted, however, that even such lesser Bertolucci works as The Sheltering Sky and Little Buddha benefit from Storaro's presence behind the camera as a true master of light.

To divide the career of Storaro into two phases is somewhat arbitrary. In fact, few cinematographers have maintained such a stylistic unity, based on a theoretical awareness and a historical consciousness of a pictorial tradition going back to Piero della Francesca and Caravaggio. Let us give Storaro himself the last word: "Since the first graffiti was scratched on the walls of caves, since the first Egyptian drawings, since Piero della Francesca, we have had ways to express emotional stories and emotional figures in a particular style. There is no question that when you make a design, shoot a picture, or photograph a movie, it is the representation of all two thousand years of history, whether you are conscious of it or not."

—M. S. Fonseca, updated by Rob Edelman

Storaro, Vittorio 1940–

views updated Jun 08 2018

STORARO, Vittorio 1940–


Born June 24, 1940 in Rome, Italy; son of Renato (a film projectionist) and Teodolinda (maiden name, Laparelli) Storaro; married Antonia LaFolla, December 29, 1966; children: Francesca, Fabrizio, Giovanni. Education: Studied photography at Duca D'Aosta, 1951–56; attended Centro Italiano Addestramento Cinematografico, 1956–58; earned a degree in cinematography from Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in 1960.

Addresses: Agent—International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

Career: Cinematographer. Previously worked as photography studio apprentice and assistant to photographers Aldo Scavarda and Marco Scarpelli.

Member: Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Italian Association of Cinematographers (former president), American Society of Cinematographers.

Awards, Honors: Prize Giannini de Venanzo, best young director of photography, and Silver Ribbon Award, National Society of Italian Film Critics, 1970, both for Giovinezza, giovinezza; National Society of Film Critics Award, best cinematography, 1971, for Il conformista; Academy Award, best cinematography, 1979, British Society of Cinematographers Award nomination, best cinematography, 1979, Film Award nomination, best cinematography, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1980, all for Apocalypse Now; Academy Award, best cinematography, Los Angeles Film Critics Award, best cinematography, 1981, Film Award nomination, best cinematography, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1983, all for Reds; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding cinematography, 1986, for Peter the Great; New York Film Critics Circle Award, best cinematographer, Los Angeles Film Critics Award, best cinematography, 1987, Academy Award, best cinematography, Best Cinematography Award, British Society of Cinematographers, American Society of Cinematographers Award nomination, outstanding achievement in cinematography in theatrical releases, Boston Society of Film Critics Award, best cinematography, David Award, best cinematography, David di Donatello Awards, 1988, Film Award nomination, best cinematography, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1989, all for The Last Emperor; New York Film Critics Circle Award, best cinematography, 1990, Film Award, best cinematography, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Silver Ribbon Award, best cinematography, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, 1991, for The Sheltering Sky; Best Cinematography Award nomination, British Society of Cinematographers, 1990, Academy Award nomination, best cinematography, American Society of Cinematographers Award, outstanding achievement in cinematography in theatrical releases, 1991, for Dick Tracy; Lifetime Achievement Award, Camerimage, 1994; Silver Ribbon Award, best cinematography, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, 1994, for Little Buddha; Art Dir. Club Italiano, career award, 1995; Golden Frog Award nomination, Camerimage, 1995, Goya Award nomination, best cinematography, 1996, for Flamenco (de Carlos Saura); Municipality Marino, career award, 1996; Golden Frog Award nomination, Camerimage, 1996, for Taxi; Career Award, Fantafestival, 1996; Special Award (with Bernardo Bertolucci), Camerimage, 1997; Audience Award and Best Cinematography Award, Madridimagen, Golden Frog Award, Camerimage, 1998, Technical Grand Prize, Cannes Film Festival, 1998, Goya Award nomination, best cinematography, Silver Condor Award, best cinematography, Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards, Silver Ribbon Award, best cinematography, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, 1999, for Tango, no me dejes nunca; Golden Frog Award nomination, Camerimage, 1999, CEC Award nomination, best cinematography, Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Goya Award, best cinematography, European Film Award, best cinematographer, 2000, for Goya; Golden Camera Award, Camerimage, 2000; American Society of Cinematographers Award nomination, outstanding achievement in cinematography, Emmy Award, oustanding cinematography, 2001, for Dune; Lifetime Achievement Award, American Society of Cinematographers, 2001.


Film Cinematographer:

Etruscologia (short film; also known as Profanatori di tombe), 1961.

I Normanni (also known as Attack of the Normans, Conquest of the Normans, Die Normannen, and Les Vikings attaquent), 1962.

L'urlo (short film; also known as The Scream), 1965.

Sortilegio (short film), 1966.

Il labirinto (short film), 1966.

Sirtaki (short film), 1966.

Rapporto segreto (short film), 1967.

Sed Lodge (short film), 1968.

Giovinezza, giovinezza (also known as Youthful, Youthful and Youth March), Daniela, 1969.

Delitto al circolo del tennis (also known as The Rage Within), 1969.

La strategia del ragno (also known as The Spider's Stratagem and The Spider's Strategy), RAI–TV Channel 1/Artificial Eye, 1969.

L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (also known as The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Bird with the Glass Feathers, The Gallery Murders, Point of Terror, Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Handschuhe, and The Phantom of Terror), UM, 1969.

Giornata nera per l'ariete (also known as Evil Fingers and The Fifth Cord), 1971.

Il conformista (also known as The Conformist, Le conformiste, and Der Grosse Irrtum), Paramount, 1971.

Addio fratello crudele (also known as 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and Peccato che sia una puttana), Euro International, 1971.

Orlando furioso, RAI–TV Channel 1/NOC, 1971.

Corpo d'amore (also known as Body of Love), Julia Cinematografica/Capricorno/RTR, 1971.

Last Tango in Paris (also known as Ultimo tango a Parigi and Le dernier tango a Paris), United Artists, 1972.

Blu gang vissero per sempre felici e ammazzati (also known as Brothers Blue and The Short and Happy Life of Brothers Blue), 1973.

I grandi naif jugoslavi (short film), 1973.

Giordano Bruno (also known as Revolt of the City), Euro International, 1973.

Malizia (also known as Malicious and Malice), Paramount, 1974.

Le orme (also known as Footprints and Primal Impulse), 1974.

Identikit (also known as The Driver's Seat and Psychotic), AVCO–Embassy, 1975.

1900 (also known as Novecento, 1900—Gewalt, Macht, Leidenschaft, and 1900—Kampf, Liebe, Hoffnung), Paramount/United Artists/Twentieth Century–Fox, 1976.

Scandalo (also known as Submission and Scandal), Joseph Brenner Associates, 1977.

Apocalypse Now, United Artists, 1979.

Agatha, Warner Bros., 1979.

La luna (also known as Luna), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1979.

Reds, Paramount, 1981.

(With Ronald V. Garcia) One from the Heart, Columbia, 1982.

Ladyhawke, Warner Bros./Twentieth Century–Fox, 1985.

Captain Eo (3–D film shown exclusively at Disney World, Orlando, FL, and Disney Land, Anaheim, CA), 1986.

Ishtar, Columbia, 1987.

The Last Emperor (also known as L'ultimo imperatore and Le dernier empereur), Columbia, 1987.

Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Paramount, 1988.

"Life without Zoe," New York Stories, Touchstone, 1989.

Dick Tracy, Buena Vista, 1990.

The Sheltering Sky (also known as Il te nel deserto), Warner Bros., 1990.

Writing with Light: Vittorio Storaro (documentary), 1992.

Little Buddha, Miramax, 1994.

Flamenco (also known as Flamenco (de Carlos Saura)), Juan Lebron Productions, 1995.

Taxi, TF1 International, 1996.

Bulworth, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1997.

Tango (also known as Tango, no me dejes nunca), Sony Pictures Classics, 1998.

Picking Up the Pieces, 1999.

Mirka, 1999.

Goya (also known as Goya a Bordeaux, Goya en Burdeos and Goya in Bordeaux), Sony Pictures Classics, 1999.

Zapata—El sueno del heroe, Victeocine, 2004.

Exorcist: The Beginning, Warner Bros., 2004.

Film Appearances:

Bertolucci secondo il cinema (also known as The Cinema According to Bertolucci and The Making of "1900"), 1975.

(Uncredited) TV photographer, Apocalypse Now, United Artists, 1979.

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (documentary), American Film Institute, 1993.

Kueloenboezoe helyek (also known as Different Places), 1995.

Ljuset haaller mig saellskap (also known as Light Keeps Me Company), First Run, 2000.

Una giornata con Paco Rabal, Horizon, 2001.

Television Cinematographer; Miniseries:

Orlando Furioso, 1975.

Wagner, 1983.

Peter the Great, NBC, 1986.

Dune (also known as Duna, Frank Herbert's Dune, Frank Herbert's Dune – Der Wustenplanet and Der Wustenplanet), Sci–Fi Channel, 2000.

Television Cinematographer; Movies:

Eneide (also known as Avventure di Enea and Il lungo viaggio di Enea), 1974.

Television Cinematographer; Specials:

"Tosca from Rome," Great Performances, PBS, 1993.

La Traviata (also known as La Traviata a Paris), PBS, 2000.

Television Appearances; Specials:

The 54th Annual Academy Awards, 1982.

Omnibus, ABC, 1988.

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (documentary), Showtime, 1991.

Glorious Technicolor, TCM, 1998.



International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 4: Writers and Production Artists, 4th edition, St. James Press, 2000.


Film Comment, September/October, 1989, p. 46.

Film Quarterly, Winter, 1994, p. 2.