Gianni Di Venanzo - Writer




Cinematographer. Nationality: Italian. Born: Teramo, 18 December 1920. Career: Camera assistant from early 1940s; 1949—first film as cinematographer, Cantoria d'Angeli. Died: 3 March 1966.


Films as Cameraman:

1947

La terra trema (Visconti)

1949

La Beauté du diable (Clair)

1950

Miracolo a Milano ( Miracle in Milan ) (De Sica)



Films as Cinematographer:

1949

Cantoria d'Angeli (Hamza—short); La scuola di Severino (Guerrini—short); Pesca a Mazzara del Vallo (Fallette—short); Ponti e porte de Roma (Hamza—short); La primavera del papa (Hamza—short)

1950

Procida (Fasano—short); S. Carlino (Fasano—short); Carrara (Lomazi—short)

1951

Achtung banditi! (Lizzani)

1953

Cronache di poveri amanti (Lizzani); Terra straniera (Corbucci); Amore in cittá ( Love in the City ) (Risi and others)

1954

Donne e soldati (Malerba and Marchi); Le ragazze de San Frediano (Zulini)

1955

Le amiche (Antonioni); Gli sbandati (Maselli); Quando tramonta il sole (Brignone); Le scapolo ( El soltero ) (Pietrangeli

1956

Difendo il mio amore ( Defend My Love ; I'll Defend You My Love ) (V. Sherman); Terrore sulla città (Majano); Kean (Gassman); Su or Letizia (Camerini)

1957

Il grido ( The Outcry ) (Antonioni); Rascel fifi (Leoni); Un ettaro di cielo (Casadio)

1958

La sfida ( The Challenge ) (Rosi); La Loi . . . c'est la loi ( The Law Is the Law ) (Christian-Jaque); I soliti ignoti ( Big Deal on Madonna Street ) (Monicelli); La prima notte ( Les Noces vénetiennes ) (Cavalcanti); Rascel marine (Leoni)

1959

Nel blu dipinto di blu ( Volare ) (Tellini); I magliari (Rosi); Il nemico di mia moglie (Puccini); Vento del sud (Provenzale)

1960

I delfini (Maselli); La notte ( The Night ) (Antonioni); Crimen (Camerini); Un mandarino per Teo (Mattoli)

1961

Il carabiniere a cavallo (Lizzani); Salvatore Giuliano (Rosi)

1962

L'eclisse ( The Eclipse ) (Antonioni); Eve (Losey)

1963

Otto e mezzo ( 8 1/2 ) (Fellini); Le mani sulla cittá ( Hands over the City ) (Rosi); I basilischi ( The Lizards ) (Wertmüller); Gli indifferenti ( Time of Indifference ) (Maselli); La ragazzi di Bube ( Bebo's Girl ) (Comencini)

1964

"Gente moderna" ep. of Alta infedeltá ( High Infidelity ) (Monicelli); "La moglia bionda" ep. of Oggi, dommani, e dopodomani (Salce); "La balena bianca" ep. of La Donna e una cosa meravigliosa (Bolognini)

1965

Il momento della verità ( The Moment of Truth ) (Rosi) (co); Giulietta degli spirit ( Juliet of the Spirits ) (Fellini); Il morbidone (Franciosa) (co); La decima vittima ( The 10th Victim ) (Petri)

1967

The Honey Pot (Mankiewicz)



Publications


On DI VENANZO: articles—

Film (Hanover), no. 5, 1966.

Rosi, Francesco, in Filmcritica (Rome), February 1966.

Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), April 1966.

Gillett, John, in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1966.

Focus on Film (London), no. 13, 1973.

Gerely, A., in Film und Ton (Munich), November 1977.

White, Armand, in Film Comment (New York), March/April 1986.


* * *


Di Venanzo began his career during World War II as camera assistant to Aldo Tonti, Otello Martelli and others, working on the films of key neorealist directors such as Visconti, Rossellini, De Santis and De Sica. Given his training in the flat documentary style favored by these filmmakers, as well as the more somber approach of Tonti, it is all the more surprising that he developed in his work with Antonioni the bleached-out, shimmering whiteness that now so strongly evokes classic Italian black and white cinematography.

Working with Antonioni, particularly on Le amiche , he also developed a capacity for filming complex and changing groupings of actors, experience that proved useful when he worked with Fellini on

Otto e mezzo . Fellini's masterpiece can also be seen as Di Venanzo's, with its subtle gradations of light and shadow essential in helping the viewer to navigate this complex assemblage of dream, memory, imagination and reality.

Di Venanzo put his early experience as a cameraman to good use also in his work with Francesco Rosi, particularly in Salvatore Giuliano and Le mani sulla città . In these films he recreated the documentary feeling of neorealism, adding another level of chronological signification to each. For Lina Wertmüller's first film, I basilischi ( The Lizards ), he helped to develop a pared-down visual language that focuses on the essentail details of her comedy.

Di Venanzo worked as cinematographer with important directors on films which proved to be central to their careers. He was universally lauded by them for his perfectionism and the variety of his photographic talents. John Gillett says these opinions were based on Di Venanzo's ". . . extraordinary ability to establish a rapport with each director; a facility for sensing the particular textures they sought after; and sheer tenacity in getting those precise effects on to celluloid." His untimely death at 45 from hepatitis has cast him into an undeserved obscurity in film history. Had he survived he would surely equal, and perhaps surpass, the reputation now held only by Vittorio Storaro among Italian cinematographers.

—Stephen Brophy

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