Robby Müller is one of the greatest Dutch cinematographers ever. Born during the Second World War in Willemstad on Curaçao, the cinematographer has worked all over the globe, making films both in Europe and the USA, but only a few in the Netherlands itself. Now in his seventies and unfortunately bound to a wheelchair, Müller can look back on an highly impressive career working repeatedly with cinematic maestro’s Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch and twice with enfant terrible Lars von Trier, among others. In March of 2013 Müller was awarded the International Achievement Award by the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), making him the first Dutchmen to receive this prestigious award.
Although Müller is cherished and kept in the highest esteem by film lovers and the industry in the Netherlands, on Thursday the 24th of May the ultimate recognition was granted to the cinematographer with the start of a four week retrospective featuring 21 of the films made through the cinematic vision of Müller. In the EYE film institute, which opened its impressive new location in Amsterdam-North last year, the event was launched with the presentation of the publication “Cinematography Robby Müller” which was presented to Müller by Linda van Deursen and Marietta de Vries who created the photography book which features a foreword by Wim Wenders. Kind words were spoken by EYE-director Willemien van Aalst who confessed that an elaborate retrospective of the work of Müller was the first thing she wanted to do when became clear that EYE would move to their new and improved location. English artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen, who’s an avid admirer of Müller’s work and resides in Amsterdam, spoke briefly to describe the vision of Müller breaking it down to one word: camouflage.
An accurate ascertainment when examining the work of Müller. Not in the sense of camouflaging in order to hide presence, but camouflaging in the sense of morphing the depicted on screen with it’s narrative and the accompanying music of the film; creating a marvelous hybrid which let’s the viewer experience (active) the film instead of just watching (passive) it. Paris, Texas, the opening film of the retrospective, is a motion picture par excellence which brings together the melancholic sounds of Ry Cooder with the mind state of protagonist Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) brought to the viewer through the eyes of Müller making him experience what Travis undergoes rather than just see him living it. Only two years after Paris, Texas Müller lends his eye to Down By Law creating an aestethic, similar to but at the same time very different from Paris, Texas, which seamlessly fits the clash of two of the coolest men ever to be caught on screen: Tom Waits and John Lurie. Robby Müller truly deserves the credit rarely giving to filmmakers or cinematographers while still alive, to be honored by a major retrospective. And as now a days Müller sadly has problems speaking we urge everyone to let his films do the talking for him, as they speak louder then words.
The retrospective will run until the 16th of June in the EYE film institute in Amsterdam, see the program here.