Robby is renowned for his refusal, as a cinematographer, to rely on a particular trademark style, instead creating images that relate uniquely to each individual story.
Robby was keen to work on The Tango Lesson because "it is about the essence of the tango. I like the music better than anything else." Of the dance sequences in The Tango Lesson, Robby says "the tango is the most interesting dance to film. It has a much bigger variety of steps than ballroom dances, and it is an individualistic dance, unlike the dances of Hollywood musicals. The couples are dancing together, not putting on a show."
(The following are notes by Sally Potter)
Robby Müller is one of the world's great cameramen. I had always admired his work from afar and especially loved his black and white cinematography. He has a completely unsentimental, unglossy way of lighting and shooting--which I knew would be right for the subject and could create an interesting dynamic tension with the dance. Dance can be too "prettified." I wanted his cold northern eye on what was a hot southern subject--love and tango.
The shoot was to prove particularly demanding for Robby as I was continually crossing the line from his side of the camera to being in front of the lens. Also, I needed to watch the monitor between takes (to correct my own performance, get a sense of the pace and structure of the scene, and figure out how shots might come together). This can interrupt the rhythm of shooting. But I always knew that I could trust Robby's visual integrity and learn much from his greater experience. His is a very economical way of approaching the scene. Do only what is necessary, without pretension.
I discovered during the shoot that he is also a brilliantly fluid operator with an unerring sense of framing. One example of his creative ingenuity was in the shooting of "Libertango." On one long track he managed shamelessly and subtly to change the framing during the dance (which moved very fast) in such a way that the camera itself feels part of the dance. All this without any obvious moves or zooms.
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