Wim Wenders Remembers "Innovative" 'Paris, Texas' Cinematographer Robby Muller

Wim Wenders Stiftung
Robby Muller, photographed by Wim Wenders

The Dutch cinematographer, who worked with Lars von Trier on 'Breaking the Waves' and Jim Jarmusch on 'Down by Law' died this week. He was 78.

German director Wim Wenders has paid tribute to famed Dutch cinematographer Robby Muller, who died this week at his home in Amsterdam after a long battle with Binswanger's disease.

Muller worked with numerous acclaimed filmmakers in his career, lensing William Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A; John McNaughton's Mad Dog and Glory; Alex Cox's Repo Man and films from Jim Jarmusch (Down by Law, Mystery Train, Dead Man, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Coffee and Cigarettes) and Lars von Trier (Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark).

But he was most closely associated with Wenders, working on a dozen films together, including Palme d'Or winner Paris, Texas (1984), the Oscar-nominated Buena Vista Social Club (1999) and Wenders' early films, including Summer in the City (1971), The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (1972), Alice in the Cities (1974), and American Friend (1977).

In a personal address, sent to The Hollywood Reporter, Wenders recalls his first meeting with Muller, 50 years ago, when the German director was still a film student and Muller was an assistant to Dutch DP Gerard Vandenberg. "I was very impressed by this super-cool guy who could pull focus with one hand and roll a cigarette in the other," says Wenders. "Soon afterwards, we made our first short film together, Alabama (1969). That was a long time ago…"

Muller, Wenders writes, "pushed the boundaries of the craft and art of cinematography." Addressing the late cameraman, he adds, "Like no other, you were able to seize moods and to describe situations in your imagery that revealed more about the characters than long dialogues or dramaturgical structures ever could. … For a handful of filmmakers, among whom I was one, you were their most important companion, like Hans W. (Geissendorfer), Jim (Jarmusch), Lars (von Trier), Steve (McQueen). And you were a role model for a whole generation of young directors of photography."

Read Wenders' full tribute below.

FOR ROBBY MULLER 4/4/1940 – 7/3/2018

Oh, Robby!

It's pretty much 50 years ago that we met each other. You were assistant to the legendary Dutch D.o.P. Gerard Vandenberg and I was still a film student. I had the good fortune to play a small part in the movie you were shooting in Munich: "Love and so forth." I was very impressed by this super-cool guy who could pull focus with one hand and roll a cigarette in the other. Soon afterwards, we made our first short film together: Alabama. That was a long time ago…

Through your work, you pushed the boundaries of the craft and art of cinematography, both as operator and through your innovative lighting style as Director of Photography. Like no other, you were able to seize moods and to describe situations in your imagery that revealed more about the characters than long dialogues or dramaturgical structures ever could. You knew how to create a distinctive atmosphere for each and every film, in which the respective actors were, in the truest sense of the phrase, "in good hands." For a handful of filmmakers, among whom I was one, you were their most important companion, like Hans W., Jim, Lars, Steve. And you were a role model for a whole generation of young directors of photography.

I miss you very much.

You are dearly missed by many.

Wim Wenders