Examining the dialogue between light and shadow

Light, color and the elements of nature are the three defining elements of Vittorio Storaro’s long artistic research, and the names Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Ford Coppola and Warren Beatty represent the three milestones of his career. «Three Oscars. Three stages in my work through which I sought to find a balance,» said Storaro from Thessaloniki, where the city’s ongoing International Film Festival is hosting an exhibition of his work. The cinematographer of the films «Apocalypse Now!,» «The Last Emperor» and «Reds,» among many others, is serving as president of the International Jury of the festival as well as presenting an exhibition of photographs split between the Photography Museum and the Cinema Museum at the festival’s port complex. «At first, I wanted to combine two elements: light and shadow. A dialogue between the two was the desired end. Later I discovered that light is red, yellow, orange, purple. I began seeing a visual dictionary evolving. In the third phase, after studying the work of the Greek philosophers, I understood that I was looking for a balance between all these different elements.» Is the speed at which digital technology is evolving going to affect the future of cinema? Two images are enough to make a film. If you can put across emotion, then that is art. What is important is the significance of things and not technology. To know what light and color you need to put across an atmosphere. At Cannes, together with Coppola, you invited young filmmakers to watch «Apocalypse Now!» because, you said at the time, they have forgotten what real cinema means. Does this express a certain amount of unease? It is not really about expressing unease, but about urging them. It is not enough to have a small camera to make a film. Every new technique has broadened the idiom of cinema, has opened new doors to the imagination. When sound was first used in films, they had to stop the movement of the camera… Gradually, the camera found its own means of expression. The same thing happened with black and white after color. The dialogue between light and shadow was suddenly lost. But the technique gradually improved, color found its shadows again and the dialogue resumed… New technologies do a lot to help freedom and imagination, but the quality of the image is still very low. This is why I consider «Apocalypse Now!» a study, and I believe that digital technology will soon offer a lot more freedom. Over the past few years, with the exception of Moretti and Benigni, Italian cinema has not traveled much abroad. Why is this? Young filmmakers are a bit confused. They believe that if they don’t write the script, they aren’t artists. The scripts for Fellini’s films were written by five or six screenwriters. Many young people in Europe today want to do everything on their own. The more alone they are in making a film, the happier they are… Their stories are very personal and of interest only to themselves and their mothers… As president of the International Jury, what do you expect from the Thessaloniki International Film Festival? New films from countries with a different culture. Mostly though, films that will move me. This interview was translated from the Greek text.

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