Vittorio Storaro


Director Of Photography

About

Birth Place
Italy
Born
June 24, 1940

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 elo...

Family & Companions

Antonia LaFolla
Wife
Married on December 29, 1962.

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

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 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."

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Cinematographer Style (2006)
Ljuset Haller Mig Sallskap (2000)
Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992)
Himself
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)

Cinematography (Feature Film)

Wonder Wheel (2017)
Director Of Photography
Café Society (2016)
Director Of Photography
Flamenco, Flamenco (2014)
Cinematographer
Guernica, 33 días (2013)
Director Of Photography
Io, Don Giovanni (2009)
Director Of Photography
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)
Director Of Photography
All the Invisible Children (2005)
Director Of Photography
Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
Director Of Photography
Picking Up the Pieces (2000)
Director Of Photography
Mirka (2000)
Director Of Photography
Goya in Bordeaux (1999)
Director Of Photography
Bulworth (1998)
Director Of Photography
Tango (1998)
Director Of Photography
Taxi (1996)
Director Of Photography
Flamenco (1995)
Cinematographer
Little Buddha (1994)
Director Of Photography
Dick Tracy (1990)
Director Of Photography
The Sheltering Sky (1990)
Director Of Photography
New York Stories (1989)
Director Of Photography
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
Director Of Photography
Ishtar (1987)
Director Of Photography
The Last Emperor (1987)
Director Of Photography
One From the Heart (1982)
Director Of Photography
Reds (1981)
Director Of Photography
Luna (1979)
Director Of Photography
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Director Of Photography
Agatha (1979)
Director Of Photography
1900 (1977)
Director Of Photography
Submission (1977)
Director Of Photography
Malizia (1973)
Director Of Photography
Giordano Bruno (1973)
Director Of Photography
Last Tango In Paris (1972)
Director Of Photography
Body of Love (1972)
Director Of Photography
Orlando Furioso (1971)
Director Of Photography
'Tis Pity She's A Whore (1971)
Director Of Photography
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970)
Director of Photography
The Conformist (1970)
Director Of Photography
The Spider's Stratagem (1970)
Cinematographer

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Ladyhawke (1985)
Photography

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Wonder Wheel (2017)
Dp/Cinematographer
Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
Dp/Cinematographer
Bulworth (1998)
Other
Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992)
Other
The Last Emperor (1987)
Dp/Cinematographer
Captain Eo (1986)
Consultant
Reds (1981)
Dp/Cinematographer
Agatha (1979)
Dp/Cinematographer
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Other
Luna (1979)
Other
The Conformist (1970)
Dp/Cinematographer

Cast (Special)

Glorious Technicolor (1998)
Omnibus (1988)

Cinematography (Special)

La Traviata From Paris (2000)
Director Of Photography
Tosca From Rome (1993)
Director Of Photography

Cinematography (TV Mini-Series)

Frank Herbert's Dune (2000)
Director Of Photography
Peter the Great (1986)
Director Of Photography

Life Events

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

Videos

Movie Clip

Reds (1981) -- (Movie Clip) Go Where The Freedom Is! Meeting for a second time, at a polite Portland, Oregon dinner party, visiting journalist Jack Reed (director Warren Beatty) has learned that Louise (Diane Keaton), who eagerly interviewed him earlier, is married, then more, in Reds, 1981.
Reds (1981) -- (Movie Clip) I Wouldn't Share You Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) in an early encounter with Eugene O'Neill (Jack Nicholson), friend of her lover and writer of a play in which she's performing, from director and star Warren Beatty's Reds, 1981.
Reds (1981) -- (Movie Clip) One Big Union Ca. 1916, probably New Jersey, writer-director-star Warren Beatty as activist-journalist John “Jack” Reed at an IWW (Industrial Workers Of The World) gathering, Dolph Sweet playing the legendary organizer Big Bill Haywood, in Beatty’s historical epic Reds, 1981.
Agatha (1979) -- (Movie Clip) An Imaginary Solution Director Michael Apted opens with exposition for his unusual premise then introduces Vanessa Redgrave as the title character, Mrs. Christie, having a gift made for husband Archie (Timothy Dalton) who seems rather a stiff, in the speculative drama Agatha, 1979, co-starring Dustin Hoffman.
Agatha (1979) -- (Movie Clip) I Admire Your Driving Style We meet Dustin Hoffman as American journalist Stanton, attending a London event for Agatha Christie (Vanessa Redgrave), with husband (Timothy Dalton), along the way meeting local reporter Foster (Paul Brooke), in Michael Apted’s film about the author’s disappearance, Agatha, 1979.
Agatha (1979) -- (Movie Clip) This Isn't Quite Cricket In the spa town of Harrogate, Yorkshire. 1926, American reporter Stanton (Dustin Hoffman), using a false identity, realizes Vanessa Redgrave must be the officially missing author Agatha Christie, approaching her without giving away the game, in Michael Apted’s speculative drama Agatha, 1979.
Dick Tracy (1990) -- (Movie Clip) When Do We Eat? Detective Tracy (director and star Warren Beatty) is summoned to help girlfriend Tess (Glenne Headley) with "The Kid," (Charlie Korsmo), leading to a familial interlude, and trouble, in Dick Tracy, 1990.
Dick Tracy (1990) -- (Movie Clip) Open, Aces And Eights Remarkable for visual elements and the cast and crew, the opening from Warren Beatty's comic-book extravaganza Dick Tracy, 1990, with Glenne Headley, Madonna, Al Pacino, and Dustin Hoffman, original songs by Stephen Sondheim.
Dick Tracy (1990) -- (Movie Clip) I Get Sick When You Eat Early scene for director-star Warren Beatty and Glenne Headley (as "Tess,") then the first for Madonna (as "Breathless"), with an original Stephen Sondheim tune, Paul Sorvino as "Lips," from Dick Tracy, 1990.
Dick Tracy (1990) -- (Movie Clip) You Like Walnuts Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino) indulging his new-found passion for show-biz, when Tracy (director and star Warren Beatty) interrupts, then follows up with performer Breathless (Madonna) in Dick Tracy, 1990.
Last Emperor, The -- (Movie Clip) Opening Credits Opening title sequence for director Bernardo Bertolucci's Academy Award-winning epic biography of China's last hereditary ruler, The Last Emperor, 1987, starring John Lone.
Last Emperor, The -- (Movie Clip) Manchurian Rats A flashback to 1924, in which Pu-Yi (John Lone) turns to his English tutor "RJ" (Peter O'Toole) for advice when he is overthrown during a tennis game, in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor, 1987.

Trailer

Family

Renato Storaro
Father
Projectionist. Worked for Lux Film.
Teodolindo Storaro
Mother
Francesca Storaro
Daughter
Fabrizio Storaro
Son
Giovanni Storaro
Son

Companions

Antonia LaFolla
Wife
Married on December 29, 1962.

Bibliography

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