Robby Müller, the cinematographer known for his collaborations with Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch as well as his work on Repo Man, Honeysuckle Rose and To Live and Die in L.A., has died at the age of 78.
Dutch newspaper Het Parool (via The Guardian) reported that Müller, known as “the master of light,” died at his home in Amsterdam, the Netherlands following a lengthy battle with vascular dementia, a degenerative disease that left him unable to talk or move for several years prior to his death.
“We have lost the remarkable, brilliant & irreplaceable Robby Müller,” Jim Jarmusch tweeted. “I love him so very much. He taught me so many things, & without him, I don’t think I would know anything about filmmaking. R.I.P. my dear friend Robby.” Müller served as Jarmusch’s cinematographer on five films, including Down By Law, Mystery Train and Dead Man.
The British Film Institute tweeted, “We’re very sad to hear about the passing of cinematographer Robby Müller, ‘master of light’, who collaborated with Jim Jarmusch, Wim Wenders, Sally Potter and William Friedkin to create some of the most striking images in all of cinema.”
The Curacao-born cinematographer began his career as director of photography on Wim Wenders’ 1970 debut feature Summer in the City; Wenders and Müller’s partnership would span 10 films, from the director’s German-language movies to 1984’s acclaimed Paris, Texas, featuring Müller’s breathtaking images of the American Southwest.
Following Peter Bogdanovich’s 1979 film Saint Jack – Müller’s first American film as cinematographer – Müller would help compose the unforgettable images and era-defining lighting in Eighties classics like Repo Man, Honeysuckle Rose, To Live and Die in L.A. and Barfly.
The cinematographer also worked on Michelangelo Antonioni’s final film Beyond the Clouds, Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People and Lars Von Trier’s Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark. Müller’s final feature film credit was for Jarmusch’s 2003 anthology Cigarettes & Coffee.
In 2016, Amsterdam’s Eye film museum held a “Master of Light – Robby Müller” retrospective. “He taught me later a lot about color, as well, and how it relates to your emotions, or how the sky at magic hour changes every ten seconds and becomes a different shade,” Jarmusch told the New York Times of Müller in 2016.
“Robby would teach me things like, it says in the script that it’s a sunny day, but then on the day of the shoot it would be cloudy and about to rain. Most people would just say, O.K., let’s not shoot today. Robby would always say, let’s think, maybe the clouds and the rain is better, let’s not be closed off, let’s be open to what we might do.”