Even if you can’t immediately place his name, you’ve undoubtedly seen his work. “Apocalpyse Now,” “The Last Emperor,” “Last Tango in Paris,” “Ladyhawke,” “Reds,” and “Dick Tracy” to name but a few. Vittorio Storaro is a master cinematographer who has contributed his immense talent to over five dozen film and television projects during his epic (and ongoing) 50-plus year career. His work has garnered him three Oscars for Best Cinematography (for “The Last Emperor,” “Reds,” and “Apocalypse Now”), as well as a fourth nomination (“Dick Tracy”).
One of the defining elements of Storaro’s work is his use of color. As a 3-minute supercut from Vimeo user movement_of_time professes, Storaro is “the man who uses color shades as a poet uses words. In every [one of] his film[s] the choice of a specific color is rigidly connected with the ‘ideology’ of history, and the color does not simply duplicate the scene information, but creates additional emotional subtext. Storaro said that the meaning of colors is universal, even in spite of cultural differences – if the audience does not understand the values, it still feels it.”
The video highlights scenes from nine of Storaro’s films, ranging from 1976’s “Novecento” (aka “1900”) to “Little Buddha” (1993). Though the films’ collective subject matters couldn’t be more different at times, Storaro’s eye for vibrant, bold color choices that pique the moment and leap off the screen couldn’t be more consistent. Whatever the story, whatever the setting, he always finds a way to craft powerful, dramatic, stunning images, a skill the supercut highlights extremely effectively.
Storaro’s skill is evident, not just in the awards he’s won, but also in the track record he developed with the myriad directors with whom he’s worked. The four Bernardo Bertolucci films used in the supercut represent but a handful of the movies the two men have partnered on. In addition to “Reds” and “Dick Tracy,” Storaro also worked with Warren Beatty on “Bulworth.” As for his association with Francis Ford Coppola, it extends beyond “Tucker: The Man and his Dream” and “Apocalpyse Now” to “One from the Heart” and a segment from “New York Stories.”
Storaro keeps pretty busy these days, especially for a guy about to turn 75. He recently completed work on “Muhammad,” directed by Majid Majidi and released in Iran earlier this year (no U.S. release date announced yet). Storaro’s also doing the cinematography on “33 Días,” which chronicles Pablo Picasso’s painting of “Guernica” and his simultaneous, tumultuous relationship with Dora Maar. The film stars Antonio Banderas (Picasso) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Maar). Release dates have yet to be set for that one, too.
Watch the three-minute supercut below. [35MM]