GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS


 

   


G.R. ALDO

 

Born: 1 January 1905, Scorzè, Venezia, Italy, as Aldo Rossano Graziati.

Died: 14 November 1953, Albara di Pianiga [near Padua], Italy, in a car crash during the shooting of 'Senso'.

Career: Moved to France in 1919. Became actor, then a still ph. Returned to Italy in 1947 together with the crew of 'La chartreuse de Parme' and became doph.

Was a member of the AIC.

Awards: Locarno IFF 'Best Cinematography Award' [1948; shared] for 'La chartreuse de Parme'; Italian Film Journalists 'Silver Ribbon' [1950] for his work; Italian Film Journalists 'Silver Ribbon' [1955; posthumously] for 'Senso'.



G.R. Aldo, one of Italy's greatest cameramen, was a slow starter. Originally he had come to France and appeared as an actor in a Jean Durand comedy. He abandoned this career to become a still photographer in the French film studios, continuing in that capacity for almost 20 years. He transferred his skills to working as an assistant cameraman and camera operator. With this experience behind him he visited Italy on location for Christian-Jaque's 'La chartreuse de Parme' in 1947. He decided to remain in his native country and having been introduced to Luchino Visconti by his friend Michelangelo Antonioni, who knew him in Paris, he undertook the photography of 'La terra trema'. His work on this made his reputation immediately. His sensitivity to location in this drama of poor Sicilian fishermen produced never-to-be-forgotten images in black-and-white. The physical beauty of the sea scenes and the contrasting landscapes never obscured the neorealistic approach of its director.

His output was not great but his artistry can be seen in three films of De Sica, 'Miracolo a Milano', 'Umberto D', and 'Stazione Termini'. His exquisite work on Genina's 'Cielo sulla palude', the life of the child-saint Maria Goretti, brought out the beauty of the Pontine marshes in the changing seasons and the physical traits of peasant life and character. The film had, in the words of one critic, "the rhythm of an ancient sorrow."

His style is never flamboyant and shows a subtle awareness of environment and subject but he could use every expressive device of the camera to penetrate the meaning of a scene. He played a key role in the neorealism of the Italian cinema. [From article by Liam O'Leary on the www.filmreference.com website.]


A regular collaborator of both De Sica and Visconti, Aldo Graziati [who often signed his films under the pseudonym G.R. Aldo] created some of the most influential black-and-white films of his time. He is, in many opinions, the greatest among the neorealist cinematographers, and his most miraculous achievement was to respect and portray the reality of life by maximizing the potential of the camera and lights. There are no effects in 'La terra trema' and 'Umberto D', yet the photography is alive as the camera follows the films' protagonists and suffers with them through sea storms, sudden poverty, or the disappearance of a dog. Umberto D walks in the noble and poor streets of Rome: he is one of them, but is no longer accepted by their ranks. In 'La terra trema', the fishermen are shot with respect and pride, but without glorification. They appear eternal like the sea, the rocks, and the poverty that surrounds them.


 

 FILMS

1945

Couleur de Venise [Jean Faurez & Jacques Mercanton] b&w; doc/?m

1947

La chartreuse de Parme [Christian-Jaque] b&w; cph: Anchise Brizzi, Nicolas Hayer, a.o.

 

 

1947

La terra trema - Episodio del mare/The Earth Trembles [Luchino Visconti] b&w; shot over a 7 months period

1948

Les derniers jours de Pompei/Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei [Marcel L'Herbier & Paolo Moffa] b&w; cph: Roger Hubert

1949

Domani è troppo tardi/Tomorrow Is Too Late [Léonide Moguy] b&w; cph: Mario Craveri & Renato Del Frate

1949

Cielo sulla palude/Heaven Over the Marshes [Augusto Genina] b&w

1950

Miracolo a Milano/Miracle in Milan [Vittorio De Sica] b&w; dir sfx: Ned Mann; ph sfx: Václav Vich & Enzo Barboni; restored in 1999

1950

The Tragedy of Othello - The Moor of Venice [Orson Welles] b&w; cph: Anchisi (Anchise) Brizzi & George Fanto (with O. [Oberdan] Troiani & R. [Alberto] Fusi); filmed 1949-52; released in 1952

 

[Left] with dir Augusto Genina & actor Gino Cervi - "Tre storie proibite"

 

1951

Tre storie proibite/Three Forbidden Stories [Augusto Genina] b&w

1951

Domani è un altro giorno [Léonide Moguy] b&w

1951

Umberto D. [Vittorio De Sica] b&w

1952

La provinciale/The Wayward Wife [Mario Soldati] b&w; cph: Domenico Scala

 

English version

 

1952

Stazione Termini/Terminal Station/Indiscretion of an American Wife/Indiscretions [Vittorio De Sica] b&w; 90m & 63m (US version 'Indiscretion of an American Wife/Indiscretions'; + 'prologue': 72m; restored in 1983); Oswald Morris was brought in by prod David O. Selznick to ph (uncred) close shots of the stars; James Wong Howe ph (uncred) the 9m 'prologue' to the US version (dir by William Cameron Menzies; featuring Patti Page singing 'Autumn in Rome' and 'Indiscretion' - these two songs, written by Sammy Cahn and Paul Weston, were based on Alessandro Cicognini's love theme from the film)

1953

Via Padova 46/Lo scocciatore [Giorgio Bianchi] b&w; cph: Carlo Montuori

1953

Senso/The Wanton Countess/Livia [Luchino Visconti] c; cph: Giuseppe Rotunno (final scenes) & Robert Krasker (took over after the death of G.R. Aldo)

1953

L'oro di Napoli/The Gold of Naples/Every Day's a Holiday [Vittorio De Sica] scheduled as ph, but film was ph in 1954 by Carlo Montuori

 

 MISCELLANEOUS

1939

L'empreinte de Dieu/Two Women [Léonide Moguy] c.op; ph: Otto Heller

1941

La symphonie fantastique [Christian-Jaque] c.op; ph: Armand Thirard

1943

L'éternel retour/Love Eternal [Jean Delannoy] still ph; ph: Roger Hubert

1945

La vie de bohème [Marcel L'Herbier] still ph; ph: Pierre Montazel

 

 

1945

La Belle et la Bête/Beauty and the Beast [Jean Cocteau] still ph (as Aldo); ph: Henri Alekan