G. R. Aldo - Writer





Cinematographer. Nationality: Italian. Born: Aldo Graziati in Scorze, 1 January 1902. Career: 1919—actor in France briefly, then still photographer in French film studios, and eventually cameraman; 1947—first film as cinematographer, La terra trema . Died: In a motor accident, 1953.


Films as Cinematographer:

1945

Couleurs de Venise (Faurez and Mercanton) (+ asst d)

1947

La terra trema (Visconti)

1948

Les Derniers Jours de Pompéi ( Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei ; The Last Days of Pompeii ) (L'Herbier); Cielo sulla palude (Genina)

1950

Taxi di notte ( Singing Taxi Driver ) (Gallone); Miracolo a Milano ( Miracle in Milan ) (De Sica)

1951

Domani e un altro giorno (Moguy)

1952

Othello (Welles); Tre storie proibite (Genina); Umberto D (De Sica); La provinciale ( The Wayward Life ) (Soldati)

1953

Stazione Termini ( Indiscretion of an American Wife ) (De Sica)

1954

Senso (Visconti) (co)

Publications


On ALDO: articles—

Cinema Nuovo (Turin), 1 December 1953.

Bianco e Nero (Rome), December 1953.


* * *


G.R. Aldo, one of Italy's greatest cameramen, was a slow starter. Originally he had come to France in 1919 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 the capacity for almost 20 years. He transferred his skills to working as an assistant cameraman and ultimately to lighting cameraman. In his humbler capacity he had worked with Marcel Carné and with Jean Cocteau on La Belle et la bête . In 1939 he was camera operator for Leonid Moguy's L'Empreinte du Dieu and also for Christian-Jaque on La Symphonie fantastique . With this experience behind him he visited Italy on location for Christian-Jaque's Chartreuse de Parme in 1947. He decided to remain in his native country and having been introduced to Visconti by his friend 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. It could be said that Aldo began and ended his career with Visconti for it was during the shooting of Senso in colour that he was killed in a motor accident on the Padua-Venice autostrada.

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 , a 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." In 1952 Orson Welles made his version of Othello under conditions of great physical and financial difficulty. Forced to use the natural setting of Mogador in North Africa, Aldo illuminated the film with his striking images, and it became a feast for the eyes, turning the necessities of production into a virtue.

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.

—Liam O'Leary

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