When talking about influential cinematography, it's impossible not to talk about Dutch cinematographer Robby Müller. His style is as distinct as those of the famed directors he has formed long-time collaborations with, like Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch. His approach to photographing a film begins with understanding its meaning, creating emotional and cerebral connections between the narrative and the visuals, and ultimately, the film and its audience. Cinephilia and Beyond has shared an interview Müller, in which he talks about working on Down By Law, that serves more as a masterclass in cinematography. Continue on to check it out.
Beginning his career in the late 60s, Müller has managed to craft a repertoire of art, independent, and commercial films in both the U.S. and Europe, with credits including Paris, Texas, Breaking the Waves, and To Live and Die in LA. To him, films are about emotions not only within the diegesis, but beyond. The ASC quoted Müller as saying:
When I choose to work on a film, the most important thing to me is that it is about human feelings. I try to work with directors who want their films to touch the audience, and make people discuss what the film was about long after they have left the cinema.
Müller's considerably consistent when it comes to the equipment he uses -- Arriflex cameras and prime Cooke and Zeiss lenses. Unless a director specifically asks for them, he steers clear of zooms, as well as gadgets, and often opts for natural lighting. He has a great affinity for simplicity, as you can see in his work on Down By Law, which was filmed in black and white. He explains how, to him, color is an "exotic thing" that tends to give "superfluous information."
Check out the trailer to Down By Law below:
Müller has so much to say not only about Down By Law, but about the art of cinematography in general. Check out the interview, in three parts, below:
What do you think about Müller's approach to cinematography? Which of his techniques have inspired your own work? Let us know in the comments below.