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Living the Absurd - Der Räuber

img  Claudia Lindner

The movie begins as if it already wants to anticipate its ending. Johann (Andreas Lust), a gaunt runner is in jail. He is approaching his discharge, and a social worker (Markus Schleinzer) urges him to be interested in his occupational future. But Johann is only interested in running. And he doesn't care that he can't earn a living with running as the social worker reminds him. After his discharge, he starts to train professionally and on high-performance sports level, including heart rate recording, computer evaluation of his running results, blood value monitoring – all this, meticulously, ambitiously and obsessed. And instead of purchasing a job at one of the prisoner-friendly companies, as the nice lady at the job-center advises him to do, he continues where he probably stopped before he was sent to jail: stealing cars, using them to commit bank robberies, masked and armed with a pump-gun. He always escapes by foot – at marathon level. If he is on a roll, he even manages to commit to robberies consecutively and at a quick pace. The rush of danger and the thrill of his bold escapes over stairs, ways, fields and through parks seems to be the excitement of his doings for him and this is what attracts the viewer in this movie. In doing so, as a person, Johann stays a mystery to the viewer, he eludes any identification in a dubble meaning: one can't perceive him as person and because of this one can't relate to him. Johann nearly drifts through life devoid of relationships if it wasn't for his girl-friend Erika (Franziska Weisz) who also has been his girl-friend before jail and with whom he lives and has sex with. But there is no closeness, not to speak of intimacy between the two, Johann has too many secrets to let somebody come that close to him.

The media covers the series of bank robberies and Erika has a bad feeling regarding her boyfriend. Finally she detects a bag full of money. She is disappointed, but doesn't turn him in at the police. But they are on Johann's trail. When he feels himself threatened by his probationer, he lashes out, big with consequences, because now the police is finally close on his heels. In the end, his girlfriend traps him while a policeman comforts her that she would do him a favour in the end, as nobody could be on the run forever. But Johann can only be on the run, and he manages to escape again. He comes by a gun, hides himself and is running, running and running, up the mountains, into the woods. When the police systematically combs through them, Johann finally seems to be trapped. But always when the viewer thinks, it's ultimately over, director Benjamin Heisenberg finds a way out for his protagonist, an escape. Nevertheless, his situation becomes more and more desperate, and when he is injured with a knife by a temporary hostage, he slowly bleeds to death on his escape. When the end is near, he calls his girlfriend on the hard shoulder of the freeway to say goodbye. He dies as he had lived – on the run. And alone.

 His protagonist is a driven character, addicted to adrenaline and endorphines. With him, these are only released through running and his perfectly prepared and staged raids. His breathlessness and his consistency fascinates the viewer. He has an attitude of radical nihilism towards everything which belongs to a normal, middle-class life. Be it relationships, love, work, habitation, friendships, family – he denies everything which makes him an anarchist, even more than his denial of law and order through his raids. The only time he speaks to Erika about his deeds, Johann brings home the fact to her that what he does, has absolutely nothing to do with what she and everyone else call life. His rejection of the normal life with all its relationships and the lonesome consistency of his actions are reminiscent of Camus' „the Stranger“: the Absurd is everything that remains in a world as a result of man's failed desire for clarity and meaningness. So Johann leads an absurd life and does absurd things and dies an absurd death, completely shifted for himself, with no ideological superstructure. He is acting consistently to the end while he is a stranger to the normal world. Heisenberg's movie creates a hero out of an anti-hero and the viewer sympathizes with this character, introduces the viewer to the universe of the Absurd where Johann lives and where it all makes sense. A moving story which stays in the viewer's mind.


Original title: Der Räuber

Austria/Germany, 2009


Director: Benjamin Heisenberg

Director of Photography: Reinhold Vorschneider

Cast: Andreas Lust, Franziska Weisz, Markus Schleinzer, Florian Wotruba, Johann       Bednar, Walter Huber

Music: Lorenz Dangel

Production: Nikolaus Geyrhalter  Filmproduktion GmbH,                                                    Peter Heilrath Filmproduktion e.K.

Distribution: Films Distribution


Official website:



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