Berlinale: The Robber Runs

     |    Monday February 15th, 2010

Johann Rettenberger runs. He does marathons and sprints – and he’s good. He’s also good at running away. Seven long years he ran in circles or on the treadmill and had no way to escape. This left a mark on Johann. He used every opportunity to train while in prison and when he got out, he devoted himself once again to the loneliness of the long distance runner. He also robbed banks, then ran. Running – the most important part of the story.

What was that? What’s did you say he was doing?

“Der Räuber” by Benjamin Heisenberg isn’t an essay on motivation, although the film was co-financed by both the ZDF and ORF television stations.  “Der Räuber” does turn into a bit of a crime story yet takes no recourse into deep psychological reasoning. Luckily for the us (at least those of us who aren’t they aren’t dulled by ‘event cinema’), Heisenberg isn’t Hitchcock.

Viewers who find themselves absorbed in the imagery seem to fall into rhythm with the runner’s breathing. I feel what he feels and get drawn in… Or am I just picking up that sense of being pursued from the expression on the face of actor Andreas Lust? It’s both, I’d say.

Movement as event, breathing as emotion, the image as the message.

The robber meets a woman – yet another part of the story. And, there’s another character… The robber gets caught, then escapes. And the robber is pursued by a true army…

Heisenberg winds up the chase into a frenzy and ends it in the dead silence of the last frame, breathless. Numbed, I go home. For me, the Berlinale has already been worth it.

(The fact that the robber actually existed isn’t of great interest to the viewer, but the fact that the story has  been published, is. The novel’s author, Martin Prinz, is also the co-author of the script.)