American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 20

Production Slate

I

Time and Age
By Neil Matsumoto

Post World War II Italian cinema brought us some of the
finest works in film history, from neorealist pieces such as Roberto
Rossellini's Rome, Open City and Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves, to
1950s and '60s auteur productions by Federico Fellini, Luchino
Visconti, Michelangelo Antonioni and others. Over the past few
decades, however, there has been a bit of a drought in terms of
world-renowned Italian filmmakers. But that has begun to change
with the emergence of a new crop of directors - including Paolo
Sorrentino, whose film The Great Beauty won the 2014 Academy
Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Youth is Sorrentino's second English-language film, and stars
Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as Fred Ballinger and Mick Boyle,
respectively - best friends vacationing in the Swiss Alps at a luxury
spa and resort. Fred is a retired music composer who has been
asked to conduct his most popular composition for the queen of
England. Mick is a director working with a group of young writers
on a screenplay for his next film, which will star his muse, Brenda
Morel (Jane Fonda). In a lyrical style lush with painterly compositions
and vivid hues, Youth deals in life's reciprocals - devotion and infidelity, youth and old age, life and death.
For the project, Sorrentino enlisted the expertise of longtime
20

January 2016

collaborator Luca Bigazzi, who has shot six of the director's features.
The cinematographer got his start working in commercials as an
assistant director in Milan, but he "didn't like it at all," Bigazzi tells
AC in a phone conversation from Italy, where he is back to work
with Sorrentino on the HBO miniseries The Young Pope. "I wanted
to make cinema, not commercials."
Bigazzi shot promotional spots for several years, until his
friend Silvio Soldini came back from New York University, and the
two decided to finance and shoot their own black-and-white film,
1983's Landscape With Figures. "I had no camera background at
all," reveals Bigazzi. "I [knew] nothing about fill light, key light or
backlight. At that time, there were no fast film stocks or high-speed
lenses, so shooting was much tougher. We mainly used practical
lights, fluorescent bulbs and small lights. I tried to light a set in a
much more realistic way that is closer to the feeling of the story, and
not in a classical way."
The imagery that informed the look of Youth included two
Swiss resorts where most of the film was shot - the Hotel Waldhaus in Flims and the Schatzalp Hotel in Davos. Bigazzi was inspired
by the mix of the beautiful ambient light in the Swiss Alps and the
comparatively sterile tone of the hotel's fluorescent lighting. "It was
a beautiful season, with mountains and blue skies in the background, but we didn't want to shoot all beautiful skies," Bigazzi
says. "But toward the end of shooting, we changed our minds

American Cinematographer

Youth photos by Gianni Fiorito, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

In the Italian
feature Youth,
longtime friends
Fred Ballinger
(Michael Caine, left)
and Mick Boyle
(Harvey Keitel)
reflect on their past
and ponder
retirement while
vacationing in the
Swiss Alps.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - January 2016

Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 1
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 2
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 4
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American Cinematographer - January 2016 - 64a
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