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Water and Sugar: Carlo Di Palma The Colours of Life

Over the history of cinema there have been some extraordinary cinematographers: Eduard Tisse, Gregg Toland, Gordon Willis, Sven Nykvist, Raoul Coutard, Kazuo Miyagawa, to name a few. Pre-eminent amongst these names is that of Carlo Di Palma. But, as this finely crafted tribute to Di Palma shows, his life and career ran even deeper than the extraordinary contributions he made to classics by Michelangelo Antonioni and Woody Allen.

A child, so to speak, of the Second World War, Di Palma emerged from Rome’s rubble as a 20-year-old in 1945, and found himself in the magical moment of Italian neorealist cinema. Di Palma cut his teeth as an assistant on some of the greatest films in cinema history: Visconti’s Obsession, Rossellini’s Rome, Open City and Paisan, De Sica’s Shoeshine and Bicycle Thieves. Given a camera by De Sica, Di Palma took to it with full responsibility. His eye for black-and-white film was masterful, but it was his innovations in colour with Antonioni’s Red Desert and Blow-Up, in the mid-1960s, that set him apart as a genius of the medium.