No Comments on THE ROBBER

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

by Benjamin Heisenberg

grade: 7

The Robber focuses mainly on the complex inner world of its protagonist, his constant need to run away, his difficulty in integrating into society and leading a normal life.

Johann runs

Johann Rettenberger runs. Whatever his mission is, he runs. He runs all day long. He even runs when he is in prison, either during his free hours in the yard or on a treadmill in his cell. And running, as well as his great passion for marathons, will play a decisive role in his life. He is therefore the protagonist of the feature film The Robber, directed in 2010 by Benjamin Heisenberg and presented in competition at the 2010 Berlinale.

Based on the novel Der Räuber by Martin Prinz and inspired by the story of the criminal and marathon runner Johann Kastenberger, The Robber shows us the not always easy path of reintegration into society of Johann (played by Andreas Lust), who, after being released from prison, signs up at an employment agency and meets Erika (Franziska Weisz), an old friend with whom he starts a relationship. The man, however, will never stop robbing banks, despite the fact that an important career as a marathon runner could give him a lot of satisfaction.

The Robber, then, focuses mainly on the complex inner world of its protagonist, his constant need to run away, his difficulty in integrating into society and leading a normal life. Johann Rettenberger has a mysterious past. Since his release from prison, he has no relationship with his family and the only person who somehow links him to his past is Erika. An aura of mystery accompanies him even during marathons, where he wins each time, but nobody knows who he really is. Similarly, a rubber mask that he uses during the robberies seems to be the only object capable of making him feel comfortable, of hiding his identity from himself and the world.

Everything in the feature film is shown exclusively from his point of view, with the exception of brief scenes concerning the dialogues between Erika and the policemen. To this end, the director’s camera follows him constantly in his movements, during the day, during the robberies, and, above all, at night, when he tries to escape from the police through the streets of Vienna. A simple and essential directorial approach and an almost total absence of music, then, proved to be excellent solutions for creating a balanced blend between the inner life of the protagonist and the adrenalin-filled chases with the police. The streets of Vienna thus become almost like labyrinths, like the paths of the Wiener Wald or the small suburban villages. Sporadic but significant flashbacks partly reveal Johann’s thoughts and feelings. The images speak for themselves. And they do so without the need for further elements.

If we consider, then, that Benjamin Heisenberg would only four years later make an entertaining comedy (Superegos), we can see that even when it comes to directing a drama, the director is quite at home. The noir atmosphere is always the same. The music is different. And in the same way it manages to enthrall us from the very first minutes.

Original title: Der Räuber
Directed by: Benjamin Heisenberg
Country/year: Germany, Austria / 2010
Running time: 90’
Genre: drama
Cast: Andreas Lust, Franziska Weisz, Markus Schleinzer, Roman Kettner, Hannelore Klauber-Laursen, Tabea Werich, Nina Steiner, Josef Romestorffer, Wolfgang Petrik, Florian Wotruba, Johannes Handler, Katharina Hülle, Tony Nagy, Michaela Christl, Georg Mlynek, Alexander E. Fennon
Screenplay: Benjamin Heisenberg, Martin Prinz
Cinematography: Reinhold Vorschneider
Produced by: FFF Bayern, Film Institut, Filmfonds Wien, FFA, Land Niederösterreich Kultur, Nikolaus Geyrhalter Filmproduktion, Peter Heilrath Filmproduktion, ZDF Arte, ORF

Info: the page of The Robber on iMDb; the page of The Robber on