Run Lola Run (German: Lola rennt) is a 1998 German thriller film written and directed by Tom Tykwer, and starring Franka Potente as Lola and Moritz Bleibtreu as Manni. The story follows a woman who needs to obtain 100,000 Deutsche Mark in twenty minutes to save her boyfriend's life. The film was released on DVD on 21 December 1999 and on Blu-ray on 19 February 2008.
Run Lola Run screened at the Venice Film Festival, where it competed for the Golden Lion. Following its release, the film received critical acclaim and several accolades, including the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics, the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Best Film at the Seattle International Film Festival, and seven awards at the German Film Awards. It was also selected as the German entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 71st Academy Awards, though it was not ultimately nominated.
|Run Lola Run|
Original German release poster
|Directed by||Tom Tykwer|
|Produced by||Stefan Arndt|
|Written by||Tom Tykwer|
|Narrated by||Hans Paetsch|
|Edited by||Mathilde Bonnefoy|
|Distributed by||Prokino Filmverleih|
|Box office||$22.9 million|
People walk in a strange featureless place while a narrator asks philosophical questions.
Lola receives a frantic phone call from her boyfriend, Manni, a small-time criminal who is responsible for delivering 100,000 Deutsche Mark. Manni takes a subway train but does not buy a subway ticket and panics when he sees ticket inspectors. He quickly gets off, thoughtlessly leaving the bag behind. He sees a homeless man examining the money bag as the train departs. Manni calls Lola from a phone booth and tells her that unless he retrieves or raises the money to give Ronnie in the next 20 minutes he will be killed; he is about to rob a nearby supermarket. Lola implores Manni to wait for her. She decides to ask her bank manager father for help.
Lola hangs up and (in a brief animated sequence) runs down the staircase of her apartment building, past a man with a dog. Outside, she makes for her father's bank, swiftly passing by several people who appeared in the opening narration and whose futures the viewer sees in rapid frame sequences. At the bank, her father's mistress tells him she is pregnant. When Lola arrives, her father dismisses her request for help and tells her she is not really his daughter, and that he is running away with his mistress, and has Lola escorted out of the bank. Thwarted, Lola runs to her rendezvous point, arriving too late. She shouts Manni's name, but he does not hear her and enters the store and pulls out a gun. Lola helps him when a security guard intervenes. Having taken enough money, they exit the store only to find themselves surrounded by police. Surrendering, Manni throws the money bag into the air, startling a police officer whose gun fires, shooting Lola in the chest.
Lola recalls lying in bed with Manni talking about their relationship and whether she would leave him. Presently, Lola says she does not want to die.
Events restart from the moment Lola leaves the house, only this time (in animation), she is tripped by the man with the dog. Falling down the stairs, Lola hurts her leg, running with a limp for a while. She passes or collides with the same group of people but in slightly different ways, and the viewer sees different outcomes in the rapid frame sequences. Meanwhile, at the bank, her father's mistress explains that he is not her child's father. Lola hears them when she arrives and is infuriated, taking a security guard's gun, taking her father hostage and robbing the bank. As she makes her escape the police mistake her for a fleeing bystander and let her pass. She arrives on time and shouts Manni's name again. He hears her and walks towards her,only to be run over by a speeding ambulance Lola distracted a few minutes earlier.
Manni recalls asking Lola how she would cope with his death, complaining that she would mourn for a few weeks, then find another boyfriend, but Lola tells him he's not dead yet. The dying Manni reacts as if she has just said it.
Events restart once more. This time, Lola (in animation) leaps over the man and his dog. She avoids all the collisions and accidents from the first two sequences and the viewer sees yet more rapid frame sequences of different futures. Having missed a chance to ask help from her father's colleague, she runs aimlessly and is nearly run over by a truck. She sees a casino. Despite being short one Mark, she convinces the cashier to give her a 100-Mark chip. Placing the chip on a roulette table, she wins 3,500 Mark. She bets everything on the same number and, as her tension builds, she cries out in a piercing scream, and wins over 100,000 Mark. Meanwhile, Manni spots the homeless man passing by on a bicycle with the bag. Manni chases him and retrieves most of the cash. The homeless man asks for Manni's gun, and Manni gives it to him. Lola arrives on time but cannot find Manni. She sees a car pull up, Manni and Ronnie getting out of it and shaking hands. Manni joins Lola and asks her what is in the bag.
The film touches on themes such as free will vs. determinism, the role of chance in people's destiny, and obscure cause-effect relationships. Through brief flash-forward sequences of still images, Lola's fleeting interactions with bystanders are revealed to have surprising and drastic effects on their future lives, serving as concise illustrations of chaos theory's butterfly effect, in which minor, seemingly inconsequential variations in any interaction can blossom into much wider results than is often recognized. (However, another explanation is that Lola's interactions with them didn't really cause anything. It's just that each person inherently has vastly different possibilities of life trajectory, a different version of which is explored and shown in the three iterations.) The film's exploration of the relationship between chance and conscious intention comes to the foreground in the casino scene, where Lola appears to defy the laws of chance through sheer force of will, improbably making the roulette ball land on her winning number with the help of a glass-shattering scream.
The thematic exploration of free will vs. determinism is made clear from the start. In the film's brief prologue, an unseen narrator asks a series of rhetorical questions that prime the audience to view the film through a metaphysical lens touching on traditional philosophical questions involving determinism vs. philosophic libertarianism, as well as epistemology. The theme is reinforced through the repeated appearance of a blind woman who briefly interacts with Manni in each alternative reality, and seems to have supernatural understandings of both the present and potential futures in those realities. The film ultimately seems to favor a compatibilist philosophical view to the free will question as evidenced by the casino scene and by the final telephone booth scene in which the blind woman redirects Manni's attention to a passerby, which enables him to make an important choice near the film's climax.
Several moments in the film allude to a supernatural awareness of the characters. For example, in the first reality, Manni shows a nervous Lola how to use a gun by removing the safety, while in the second timeline she removes the safety as though she remembers what to do. This suggests that she might have the memory of the events depicted in the previous timeline. Also, the bank's guard says to Lola "you finally came" in the third timeline, as if he remembered Lola's appearances in the previous two.
The film features two allusions to Alfred Hitchcock's film Vertigo. Like that film, it features recurring images of spirals, such as the 'Spirale' Cafe behind Manni's phone box and the spiral staircase down which Lola runs. In addition, the painting on the back wall of the casino of a woman's head seen from behind is based on a shot in Vertigo: Tykwer disliked the empty space on the wall behind the roulette table and commissioned production designer Alexander Manasse to paint a picture of Kim Novak as she appeared in Vertigo. Manasse could not remember what she looked like in the film; therefore, he decided to paint the famous shot of the back of her head. The painting took fifteen minutes to complete. The bed sheets in the red scenes also feature spiral designs which add to the allusion.
The soundtrack of the film, by Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil, includes numerous musical quotations of the sustained string chords of The Unanswered Question, an early 20th-century chamber ensemble work by American composer Charles Ives. In the original work, the chords are meant to represent "the Silences of the Druids—who Know, See and Hear Nothing."
The techno soundtrack established dialectical relation between motives of the movie: Rhythm, Repetition, and Interval among various spatio-temporal logics. This produces unification of contradictions like Time and Space or The cyclical and the linear.
As of October 2017, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 93% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 81 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "More fun than a barrel of Jean-Paul Sartre, pic's energy riffs on an engaging love story and really human performances while offering a series of what-ifs and a blood-stirring soundtrack." On Metacritic, the film has an average score of 77 out of 100, based on 29 reviews, stating the film as having "generally favourable reviews".
In contrasting reviews, Film Threat's Chris Gore said of the film, "[It] delivers everything great foreign films should—action, sex, compelling characters, clever filmmaking, it's unpretentious (a requirement for me) and it has a story you can follow without having to read those annoying subtitles. I can't rave about this film enough—this is passionate filmmaking at its best. One of the best foreign films, heck, one of the best films I have seen", while Jonathan Rosenbaum of The Chicago Reader stated, "About as entertaining as a no-brainer can be—a lot more fun, for my money, than a cornball theme-park ride like Speed, and every bit as fast moving. But don't expect much of an aftertaste."
The film was nominated for dozens of awards, including the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language. It won several, including the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics, the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Best Film at the Seattle International Film Festival, and seven separate awards at the German Film Awards. Lola Rennt was ranked number 86 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010. It was also nominated for the Golden Lion at the 55th Venice Film Festival, and a European Film Award in 1998.
The music video for "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi, released in 2000, was inspired by the film. The music video for "Ocean Avenue" by Yellowcard is also seen by some to have been inspired by the film.
The film was the initial inspiration for the three-day cycle in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a video game also released in 2000. In animated series, The Simpsons parodies Run Lola Run in 2001's "Trilogy of Error" and Phineas and Ferb features a 2011 episode titled "Run, Candace, Run." The series SMILF includes a 2017 episode ("Run, Bridgette, Run or Forty-Eight Burnt Cupcakes & Graveyard Rum") which references the film. Music video for Walk me to the Bridge by Manic Street Preachers directly references the movie throughout the length of music video.
Yellowcard's, "Ocean Avenue" was the final good video we saw on the channel. We were intrigued by what we were pretty sure was an homage to Run Lola Run, and that of course is awesome.