Welcome to the colourful world of Vittorio Storaro !

By Caroline Champetier, AFC

par Caroline Champetier

[English] [français]

On Thursday, 16 November, Caroline Champetier, AFC, attended the conference given at the Opera Nova by Vittorio Storaro, AIC, ASC. The cinematographer was discussing the physiology of colour with Woody Allen’s film Wonder Wheel as his guiding thread. Here, she summarizes some of the main points of his speech.

Storaro begins : “This is not a conference ; instead, a trip Woody Allen has invited us to take. For me, this trip began two years ago when I received a phone call from one of Woody Allen’s assistants. I first made sure that Darius Khondji, who has been working with Woody Allen for some years now, was aware of this, and then I went to meet Woody Allen.”
“Until now, he and I, we’d only expressed ourselves on film, in a subtle way for Woody Allen, and perhaps the technological revolution can allow us something new. We’d become accustomed to the idea that there is a mystery around the production of images, the mystery has been lifted, and now things are less romantic but just as emotional. So this is the first time I was able to consider what digital cinematography is capable of bringing us...”
At that moment, whether or not it was staged, the light dimmed.

“I’ve always been passionate about, attracted to, and moved by colour.” Then he cites Plato : “I see in colour matter’s attempts to become one with the light...”
“My inclination leads me to the language of colour ; art naïf was my first inroad to that way of thinking. As early as The Conformist, I took on a segment where I could experiment with that. After, I stopped working for a year so I could immerse myself in a reflection on colour.”

“So, Woody shows up and accepts my proposal, I promised him a perfectly-calibrated monitor on set so as to be able to react and so he’d be able to tell me what might bother him in the image. When I arrived in NYC and we began scouting with Woody Allen and Santo Loquasto, the set designer, I discovered Coney Island—what a shock ! The magic of an amusement park that is a world unto itself, where everything is made of visual and chromatic propositions. The characters live with this world outside their windows and inside, with their family conflicts. The actors — Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake, Juno Temple, and Jim Belushi — allow us, as a result of their talent, to create a particular visual style in which each of them is identified with a colour.

“I was inspired by different painters from that period, especially Reginald Marsh, who did a magnificent job of representing the magic of Coney Island. It reinforced my intuition, which was to contrast the colours in the same way the characters contrast with one another. Living beings do not perceive colour only with their eyes, but with their whole bodies. They are like photographic plates, colour modifies their metabolism and their blood pressure and inspires emotions...
"No one ought to be afraid of colour, to create harmonies or conflicts between the three primary colours and their complementary colours : through them, we can inspire the audience’s emotions in the same way as words do in literature or notes do in music.”

Welcome to the colourful world of Vittorio Storaro !

Vittorio Storaro et une festivalière
Photo Alex Lamarque

(Translated from French by Alexander Baron-Raiffe on behalf of the AFC)