Robby Müller, the famed Dutch cinematographer responsible for shooting some of the greatest films of modern times — earning him the nickname “Master of Light” for his dazzling compositions of color and natural light — has passed away in Amsterdam just three months after celebrating his 78th birthday.
Müller’s family confirmed his death to the Dutch publication De Volksrant, stating that he had been seriously ill for a long time. As a cinematographer, Müller frequently worked with acclaimed directors like Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, and Lars von Trier, applying his unique visual style to some of their best films.
Born in 1940 in the Netherlands Antilles (now known as Curaçao), Müller moved to Amsterdam in 1953 and for two years in the early 1960s studied at the Netherlands Film Academy. He began his career as a cinematographer on a series of short films before making the transition to feature work.
Müller’s collaboration with Wenders lasted the longest, beginning with the filmmaker’s 1970 debut feature Summer in the City and including Kings of the Road, The American Friend, Until the End of the World, the documentary Notebooks on Cities and Clothes, and Paris, Texas. For Jarmusch, he shot Down by Law, Mystery Train, Dead Man, Coffee and Cigarettes, and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. His work with von Trier includes Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark.
For his wonderful work on Dead Man and Breaking the Waves, Müller received Best Cinematography honors from the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle. In 2013, he was given the International Award by the American Society of Cinematographers.
Other films on which Müller served as cinematographer include Peter Bogdanovich’s Saint Jack and They All Laughed, the punk sci-fi comedy classic Repo Man, William Friedkin’s electrifying crime drama To Live & Die in L.A., the Charles Bukowski adaptation Barfly, and the British New Wave music world drama 24 Hour Party People.
In a statement to IndieWire, Jarmusch said:
“Robby was one of the most remarkable people I have ever known, one of my dearest friends, my big brother, and my teacher. Without him I don’t think I would know anything about filmmaking, or about so many other things. Now he’s flown away, but is in my heart and spirit and thoughts forever. Thank you Robby, for everything you’ve given us, and for your irreplaceable presence in our lives.”
No more can be better said. Rest in peace, Mr. Müller, and thank you for the beautiful images you created that will live on in cinematic immortality.
April 4, 1940 – July 4, 2018
In the summer of 2016 EYE Filmmuseum presents Master of Light – Robby Müller: Cinematographer of Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, Lars von Trier and Steve McQueen. For this large exhibition, Robby Müller, the most famous Dutch cinematographer, will open up his personal archive. Müller is internationally renowned for his pioneering camerawork and virtuoso lighting effects.