Sunday, June 17, 2007

Shooting Kinski #1: Robby Muller

Very few would deny that Nastassja Kinski is one of the most photogenic women on the planet. I wanted to start a special series highlighting the men and women who have photographed her since she began her career and the cinematographer who shot her first film seemed like an obvious first choice.
Robby Muller is one of the most acclaimed cinematographers of the past fifty years. His work has won many awards and he has continually been sought after by some of the most important worldwide directors in modern cinema.
Muller was only 34 when he shot Nastassja in Wenders THE WRONG MOVE. He had previously worked with Wenders on nearly all of his early work including the amazing ALICE IN THE CITIES, a film that would really put Muller on the map as one of the great cinematographers of the seventies.
His photography of Kinski in THE WRONG MOVE is striking stuff, he seemed to understand, like Wenders, that much of her power is in her face and particularly her eyes. He photographs her in a very natural way in THE WRONG MOVE, there isn't anything unnatural or necessarily glamorous about the young Kinski in this film, and Muller's unfussy way of photographing her brings out her striking features wonderfully.
Anchor Bay's recent dvd of THE WRONG MOVE really shows Mullers work in a great light, with his close ups of Kinski feeling so intimate that she could almost be sitting right next to you.
Muller would photograph Kinski again with a heartbreaking intensity on Wenders PARIS, TEXAS. Muller seems to break through Nastassja's heavy makeup and bleached hair here and finds her remarkable face in a series of overwhelming close ups that are among the best I have ever seen in a film. His style has always been perfectly suited to Wenders explorations of people's internal struggles so it is perfect that the two have worked together so often.
Muller has also shot many great films without Wenders, with some of my favorites being Peter Bogdanovich's THEY ALL LAUGHED, Jim Jarmusch's MYSTERY TRAIN and Lars Von Trier's BREAKING THE WAVES and DANCER IN THE DARK.
Muller is one of the few great cinematographers who is able to work equally well with color and black and white. His photography of Nastassja Kinski THE WRONG MOVE and PARIS TEXAS remains extremely vital and is among his very best work.

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