GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS


 

   


CARLO DI PALMA

 

Born: 17 April 1925, Rome, Italy, as son of a camera repairman and a mother who sold flowers in the Piazza di Spagna.

Died: 9 July 2004, Rome, Italy.

Education: Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Rome, Italy.

Career: Started as c.asst in 1942. Became c.op in 1950 and doph in 1954.

Was a member of the AIC.

He was the uncle of doph Dario Di Palma [1932-2004].

Awards: Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists 'Silver Ribbon' Award [1965] for 'Il deserto rosso', [1967] for 'L'armata Brancaleone', [1993] for 'Shadows and Fog' & [1997] for 'Mighty Aphrodite'; BAFTA Film Award nom [1968] for 'Blowup'; Italia Cinema Agency's 'Life Achievement Award' [2001]; European Film Awards 'Outstanding European Achievement in World Cinema' [2003].



Carlo Di Palma once compared the job of the cinematographer to that of the painter. Both start with a blank canvas, but while the painter has to add strokes to depict what he wants to show, for Di Palma the task of the director of photography is to take away all but what is essential to the shot. Such a spare, simple-sounding encapsulation of his work was strikingly at odds with his reputation as a master manipulator of light and color.

Di Palma came to prominence in the mid-1960s as a result of his collaboration with director Michelangelo Antonioni on his two masterpieces, 'Il deserto rosso/Red Desert' and 'Blowup'. Although it is the latter film that has remained the better known, largely because of its memorable evocation of the spirit of Swinging London, the former is the more interesting technically.

Antonioni's somewhat expressionist intent was that the color of the landscapes in which his characters found themselves marooned would reflect their inner states. All of his previous films had been made in black and white, and it was Di Palma who persuaded him to venture into color. Having done so, Di Palma found himself having to repaint everything in each frame in the correct shade, be it grass, trees or the very streets of Ravenna, where the film was made. The results were quite unlike anything seen in the cinema before, and showed to the full the creative possibilities of the medium.

For 'Blowup' Di Palma made use of the powers of different lenses, particularly the zoom. The film was essentially a cinematic in-joke; its protagonist was a photographer, its concern the reliability of sight as an interpreter of the truth. Such tricksy notions were a long way from Di Palma's roots in the neorealist movement.

Having been influenced by Gianni Di Venanzo, Di Palma became a director of photography at the start of the 1950s. He soon found himself in demand and turned out a score of pictures before resuming the partnership with Antonioni that had begun on a short film in 1949.

It was while shooting 'Red Desert' that Di Palma began a long professional and personal involvement with actress Monica Vitti. He directed her in three films, though with little critical or commercial reward.

In the mid-1980s, his career took an unexpected turn when he became Woody Allen's cinematographer of choice. The two collaborated on a dozen of the director's films. The Italian later declared that the decade he had spent working in America had been the most enjoyable of his life.

Di Palma made his last contribution to cinema in 2001 with a documentary entitled 'Un altro mondo è possibile/Another World Is Possible'. Latterly he had been in ill-health, and he had restricted himself to supervising lighting effects for concerts in churches in Rome and in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence. [From obituary in 'The Times', July 21, 2004.]


 

 FILMS

1950

Addio [G. Baggio] ?; short/?m

1951

Luoghi e figure di Verga [Florestano Vancini] b&w; doc/280mtrs

1952

Più che regione [Florestano Vancini] b&w; doc/289mtrs

1952

Portatrici di pietre [Florestano Vancini] b&w; doc/280mtrs

1955

Lauta mancia/Big Dog Lost [Fabio De Agostini] b&w

1957

La più alta del mondo [Florestano Vancini] c; doc/412mtrs

1957

Teatro minimo [Florestano Vancini] c; doc/380mtrs

1957

Ombre e luci sulla ribalta [Bruno Benech] ?; short/?m

1957

Tempo di fede [Bruno Benech] ?; short/?m

1957

Tempo di maschere [Bruno Benech] ?; short/?m

1957

Tra la storia e la leggenda [Bruno Benech] ?; short/?m

1958

Gli ultimi cantastorie [Florestano Vancini] c; doc/380mtrs

1958

La sfida/The Challenge [Francesco Rosi] b&w; 2uc; ph: Gianni Di Venanzo

1959

La grande guerra/The Great War [Mario Monicelli] cs/b&w; 2uc; ph: Leonida Barboni, Roberto Gerardi, Giuseppe Rotunno & Giuseppe Serrandi

1959

L'impiegato [Gianni Puccini] b&w

1959

Kapò [Gillo Pontecorvo] b&w; co-2uc; ph: Aleksandar Sekulovic

1960

Le Svedesi [Gian Luigi Polidoro] b&w

1960

La lunga notte del '43/Long Night in 1943/It Happened in '43 [Florestano Vancini] b&w

1960

Città di Vespignani [Massimo Mida] ?; doc/?m

1960

L'assassino/The Assassin/The Ladykiller of Rome [Elio Petri] Nikkatsuscope/b&w

1961

Divorzio all'italiana/Divorce - Italian Style [Pietro Germi] b&w; uncred cph; ph: Leonida Barboni

1961

Tiro al piccione [Giuliano Montaldo] b&w

1961

Accattone [Pier Paolo Pasolini] b&w; ph trial tests; ph: Tonino Delli Colli

1961

Leoni al sole [Vittorio Caprioli] c

1962

Les quatres vérités/Three Fables of Love [seg 'Le lièvre et la tortue' dir by Alessandro Blasetti] b&w; other seg ph by Jacques Mercanton, Francisco Sempere & Armand Thirard; USA release without seg dir by Luis García Berlanga

1962

El sheriff terrible/Due contro tutti/Two Against All [Antonio Momplet & Alberto De Martino] c; cph: Dario Di Palma & Ricardo Torres

1963

Liolà/A Very Handy Man [Alessandro Blasetti] b&w; ext co-ph; ph: Leonida Barboni & Tonino Delli Colli

1963

Omicron [Ugo Gregoretti] b&w

1963

Amore in quattro dimensioni [seg 'Amore e vita' dir by Jacques Romain] b&w; 4 seg; other seg ph by Tonino Delli Colli (2 seg) & Dario Di Palma (1 seg)

1964

Il deserto rosso/Red Desert [Michelangelo Antonioni] c

1964

Le ore nude/The Naked Hours [Marco Vicario] b&w

 

[Right] with Princess Soraya and Michelangelo Antonioni - "I tre volti"

 

1964

I tre volti/Three Faces of a Woman [seg #1 'Prefazione (Il provino)' dir by Michelangelo Antonioni] c; 3 seg; other ph: Otello Martelli (2 seg)

1965

5 tombe per un medium/Terror-Creatures from the Grave/Cemetery of the Living Dead/Coffin of Terror/Tombs of Horror [Ralph Zucker (= Massimo Pupillo)] b&w; as Charles Brown

1965

Una questione d'onore/A Question of Honour [Luigi Zampa] c; cph: Luciano Trasatti

1965

L'armata Brancaleone/For Love and Gold [Mario Monicelli] scope/c

1966

Le fate/Les ogresses/The Queens/Sex Quartet [seg #1 'Fata Sabina' dir by Luciano Salce] c; 4 seg; cph (#1): Ennio Guarnieri; other ph: Dario Di Palma (#2), Leonida Barboni (#3) & Armando Nannuzzi (#4)

1966

Blowup [Michelangelo Antonioni] c

1967

La cintura di castità/On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who.../The Chastity Belt [Pasquale Festa Campanile] ts/c

1967

Ti ho sposato per allegria [Luciano Salce] c

1967

La ragazza con la pistola/Girl with a Pistol [Mario Monicelli] c

1968

The Appointment [Sidney Lumet] c

1968

La femme écarlate/The Bitch Wants Blood/The Scarlet Lady/La donna scarlatta [Jean Valère] c

1969

Amore mio, aiutami!/Help Me My Love [Alberto Sordi] c

1969

Dramma della gelosia - tutti i particolari in cronaca/Jealousy, Italian Style [Ettore Scola] p/c

1970

Le coppie/The Couples [seg 'Il frigorifero' dir by Mario Monicelli] c; 3 seg; other ph: Sante Achilli & Ennio Guarnieri

1970

La supertestimone [Franco Giraldi] c

1970

Ninì Tirabusciò [La donna che inventò la mossa] [Marcello Fondato] c

1970

La pacifista/The Pacifist [Miklós Jancsó] c

1971

Noi donne siamo fatte così [Dino Risi] ts/c

1971

Gli ordini sono ordini [Franco Giraldi] c

1977

Kumbha Mela [Michelangelo Antonioni] 16mm/c; doc/18m

1978

Amo non amo/I Love You, I Love You Not/Together? [Armenia Balducci] c

1981

La tragedia di un uomo ridicolo/Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man [Bernardo Bertolucci] c

1981

The Black Stallion Returns [Robert Dalva] c; addph: Caleb Deschanel, David Myers & Haskell Wexler

1982

Gabriela [Bruno Barreto] tvi/c; addph: Pedro Farkas & Carlos Egberto Silveira

1982

Indentificazione di una donna/Identification of a Woman [Michelangelo Antonioni] partly v/c

1984

Hannah and Her Sisters [Woody Allen] c; addph: Jamie Jacobsen

1985

Off Beat [Michael Dinner] c; 2uc: Michael Negrin

1986

The Secret of My Succe$s [Herbert Ross] c

 

[Striped cap] with Woody Allen [right] - "Radio Days" - photo by Brian Hamill

Thys Ockersen Archive

 

1986

Radio Days [Woody Allen] c

1987

September [Woody Allen] c

1988

Family Business [Sidney Lumet] announced as doph, but replaced by Andrzej Bartkowiak

1989

Roma [Michelangelo Antonioni] c; comm doc/9m; also seg of '12 registi per 12 città'; prod Ministero del Turismo e dello Spettacolo

1990

Il ciurma/The Crew [Michelangelo Antonioni] unrealized

1990

Alice [Woody Allen] c; optical ph: Angus Bickerton

1991

Shadows and Fog [Woody Allen] b&w

1991

Husbands and Wives [Woody Allen] c

1992

Manhattan Murder Mystery [Woody Allen] c

1993

Bullets over Broadway [Woody Allen] c

1994

Il mostro/The Monster [Roberto Benigni & Michel Filippi] c

1994

Mighty Aphrodite [Woody Allen] c

1995

Everyone Says I Love You [Woody Allen] c

1996

Deconstructing Harry [Woody Allen] c

2001

Un altro mondo è possibile/Another World Is Possible [various] c; doc/60m & 120m; other ph: Luca Bigazzi, Franco Di Giacomo, a.o.

2002

Anything Else [Woody Allen] announced as doph, but replaced by Darius Khondji

 

 TELEVISION

1980

La clemenza di Tito [Jean-Pierre Ponnelle] opera/136m

1983

Ritorno a Lisca Bianca [Michelangelo Antonioni] doc/b&w/9m/16mm

1994

Don't Drink the Water [Woody Allen] tvm; 2uc Prague: Petr Hlinomaz

 

 FILMS AS CAMERA ASSISTANT/OPERATOR

1940

Caravaggio il pittore maledetto [Goffredo Alessandrini] c.asst; ph: Aldo Tonti

1941

Fari nella nebbia [Gianni Franciolini & Marco Elter] co-c.asst; ph: Aldo Tonti

1942

Un colpo di pistola/A Pistol Shot [Renato Castellani] co-c.asst; ph: Massimo Terzano

1942

Ossessione [Luchino Visconti] co-c.asst (replaced Gianni Di Venanzo, who was called up for military service); ph: Aldo Tonti

1942

Il romanzo di un giovane povero [Guido Brignone] c.asst; ph: Tino Santoni

1945

Paisà/Paisan [Roberto Rossellini] co-c.asst; ph: Otello Martelli; filmed 1943-44

1945

La vita ricomincia/Life Begins Anew [Mario Mattoli] c.asst; ph: Ubaldo Arata

1945

Roma città aperta [Roberto Rossellini] co-c.asst; ph: Ubaldo Arata

1946

Eugenia Grandet [Mario Soldati] c.asst; ph: Václav Vích

1947

L'ebreo errante/The Wandering Jew [Goffredo Alessandrini] c.asst; ph: Václav Vích

1948

Ladri di biciclette/The Bicycle Thief/Bicycle Thieves [Vittorio De Sica] c.asst; ph: Carlo Montuori

1949

L'amorosa menzogna/Loving Lie [Michelangelo Antonioni] short/10m; c.op; ph: Renato Del Frate

1950

Domani è troppo tardi [Léonide Moguy] c.op; ph: Mario Craveri

1951

Napoleone [Carlo Borghesio] c.op; ph: Renato Del Frate

1951

Lo scocciatore pubblico no. 1 [Riccardo Moschino; doc] c.op; ph: Gianni Di Venanzo

1951

Achtung! Banditi! [Carlo Lizzani] co-c.op; ph: Gianni Di Venanzo

1952

È arrivato l'accordatore/Zero in amore/The Piano Tuner Has Arrived [Duilio Coletti] c.op; ph: Renato Del Frate

1952

Personaggi di un sogno [Aldo Rubens; doc] c.op; ph: Gianni Di Venanzo

1952

Il tallone d'Achille [Mario Amendola & Ruggero Maccari] c.op; ph: Renato Del Frate

1952

I morti non pagano tasse [Sergio Grieco] c.op; ph: Renato Del Frate

1952

Serenata amara [Pino Mercanti] c.op; ph: Renato Del Frate

1952

Non è vero... ma ci credo [Sergio Grieco] c.op; ph: Vincenzo Seratrice

1953

Ivan [il figlio del diavolo bianco] [Guido Brignone] c.op; ph: Mario Montuori

1953

Lulù [Fernando Cerchio] c.op; ph: Mario Albertelli & Vincenzo Seratrice

1954

Tripoli, bel suol d'amore/I quatro bersaglieri [Ferruccio Cerio] c.op; ph: Mario Montuori

1954

La vergine moderna [Marcello Pagliero] c.op; ph: Mario Montuori

1957

Il grido/The Cry [Michelangelo Antonioni] 2nd c.asst; ph: Gianni Di Venanzo

1958

Avventura a Capri [Giuseppe Lipartiti] c.op; ph: Václav Vích

1959

Guardatele ma non toccatele [Mario Mattoli] c.op; ph: Riccardo Pallottini

 

 FILMS AS DIRECTOR

1972

Teresa la ladra/Teresa the Thief [feature] ph: Dario Di Palma

1974

Qui comincia l'avventura/Blonde in Black Leather/Lucky Girls [+ co-scrpl] ph: Dario Di Palma

1975

Mimì Bluette... fiore del mio giardino [feature] ph: Alfio Contini

1984

L'addio a Enrico Berlinguer [doc; co-d: various] ph: Dario Di Palma, Angelo Lotti, Claudio Ragona, a.o.

1999

The End (Teleteatro) [v/c; short/4m; seg of 3-part 'An Embroidered Trilogy', a video project by Francesco Vezzoli] ph: ?