Robby Müller An obituary

In his visual language, Robby Müller was connected to the avant-garde of contemporary cinema in a comprehensive but also very personal way. In his many years of collaboration with Wim Wenders, influenced by the new developments in Italian and French films, he wrote an important chapter of Young German Cinema, developing two qualities that signalize his work in a special way: curiosity about what can be discovered in the language of cinema beyond the professionalism of cinematographer´s work, and confidence in the collaborative work on a film as an imaginary strengh for the Utopia of an individual - the director. Setting a goal and sharing the responsibility for it without falling into the maxim of perfection, bowing to the surface shine of the pictures or

"placing one's own work at the centre - and thus destroying narration with beautiful pictures" (Robby) are essential moments of his cinematography. Beyond all academic discussions on cadrage,Ronny-Muller1 in DOWN BY LAW (1986) he developed for Jim Jarmusch image compositions of impressive consistency, in BARFLY (Barbet Schroeder, 1987) an uncompromising light beyond all classical lighting design, and in BREAKING THE WAVES (1996) for Lars von Trier visions of a cinematic work that reaches back to the origins of the image - all of them conceptions that will help experimental ideas in cinema to break through and influence future films in their visual power. The specific quality of his work, however, lies in countering the statics of the composed image with the unwavering of the naive sight, overcoming the desire for beauty of photography through the difficult path to simplicity and above all preserving the detachment of the sight when approaching the object photographed. Thus liberated from the stylistic diction, for the viewer moments of deep emotion occur, based on the immediacy of his photography.

New technological developments in lighting and camera were always an important support for Robby Müller in his research into new ways of image design, but conversely, he relentlessly demanded the artistic qualities of the newly developed possibilities of the digital camera (DANCER IN THE DARK, 2000; MY BROTHER TOM, 2001), which make them usable for the aesthetics of the projected image - also an important part of its significance for contemporary film photography. He himself described it as an enlightened concept of cinematography: "When I choose a film, my feelings are the most important thing. I try to work with directors who want to touch their audience and let people still discuss the film after they have long left the cinema. ... I prefer to give the viewer the freedom to discover something for himself rather than to force him with his eyes on it". 1

1 quoted after: Ettedgui, Peter: Filmkünste Kamera, Reinbek 2000, page 103 ff.

by Rolf Coulanges BVK

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