n the surface, Florian Maubach’s graduation film Räuber & Gendarm is about its namesake: a childhood game of Cops and Robbers. Yet as the story unfolds the familiar playground quickly turns into a metaphorical stage for the ambiguity of adolescence. Coupled with Maubach’s unique use of point-of-view perspective, this 2D animation will nostalgically remind you just how confusing and emotionally draining puberty can be.
Maubach impresses with his duplicitous use of 2D animation technique. In a style that at first glance is somewhat crudely drawn, the monochromatic approach cleverly disguises an otherwise overwhelmingly dizzy use of perspective. A film that is told entirely through the eyes of a boy named Daniel, it is immediately immersive in nature, thrusting us into the character’s headspace. it’s therefore hard not to feel an immense amount of empathy toward Daniel’s feelings, be it his crush or the angry boy he has an aversion to.
Further still, Maubach’s use of sound makes it feel all the more present, as the design of each character’s voice is dependent upon where they are in relation to Daniel, panning from right to left or getting quieter further away from him.
Conceptually, Maubach’s figurative playground lays the framework for larger complex themes such as desire and aggression. Through the game of Cops and Robbers, Daniel and the other children try out roles and then switch those roles, as if playing out a real life social experiment that allows them to begin to understand who they are growing up to be. In this game of discovery, Daniel experiences the awkward truth that his body is not quite in his control yet and at the end of the day he still has to answer to his mom.
Inspired by his own experiences, Maubach reveals that he played Cops and Robbers in different stages of his life and that his intentions matured quite a bit, playing both as a 6-year-old and then as a teen. Räuber & Gendarm received the German Short Film Award in Animation, the 3rd Prize German Competition at Interfilm Berlin, and the Best Student Short at Anima Bruxelles among other accolades. Maubach hopes to develop the feature version of Räuber & Gendarm very soon and is proud to be a part of Sticky Frames animation collective.