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's three scenarios are reminiscent of the 1981 Krzysztof Kieślowski film Blind Chance; following Kieślowski's death, Tykwer directed his planned film Heaven. 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|
Lola (Franka Potente) receives a frantic phone call from her boyfriend, Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), a small-time criminal who has collected 100,000 marks cash in his most recent crime. Lola had agreed to meet Manni and drive him to deliver the money to his boss, Ronnie. However, when Lola's moped was stolen and she failed to arrive on time, Manni took a subway train. As he did not have a subway ticket, Manni panicked when he saw ticket inspectors and got off the train, thoughtlessly leaving the bag containing the cash behind. From outside, he saw a homeless man examining the money bag as the train departed.
Manni calls Lola from a phone booth and tells her that unless he raises 100,000 marks to give Ronnie within 20 minutes, Ronnie will kill him. Manni also tells Lola of his plan to rob a nearby supermarket. Lola implores Manni to wait and promises to raise the money. She decides to ask her dad (Herbert Knaup), a bank manager, for help.
The rest of the film is divided into three runs by Lola. Each run starts the same way, but develops differently and has a different outcome. Each run has brief flashforward sequences that show how the lives of the people that Lola bumps into develop afterward.
Lola hangs up the phone and starts running (in an animated sequence) down the staircase of her apartment building, past a punk with a dog, and (back in live action) through the streets of Berlin towards her father's bank. She collides with a woman pushing a baby carriage, who is shown to later steal a baby after having lost custody of her own. Then Lola runs alongside a cyclist who offers to sell her his bike, which she refuses; a flash-forward shows him being robbed on his bike, but later marrying a nurse from the hospital in which he recovers. Lola then causes a minor car crash, which involves her father's colleague, Mr. Meier, and three men in a white BMW. As Lola arrives at the bank, she passes a banker shown later to be paralyzed in a car accident, then killing herself. She meets her dad, who dismisses her request for help. He reveals that he is not her biological father and that he plans to run away with his pregnant mistress, and then has Lola escorted out of the bank. A security guard who consoles her is shown to later suffer a heart attack.
Meanwhile, Manni uses a blind lady's phone card to call a friend. His friend says he can only give him 500 marks, which makes Manni angry. Lola runs alongside an ambulance that narrowly misses crashing into a glass pane being carried across a street by several men. Lola runs on to meet Manni, who is about to commit the robbery. She shouts his name, but he does not hear her and enters the store. Lola is forced to help him when a security guard intervenes. Once they obtain the money, they exit the store, but find themselves surrounded by police. Manni throws the bag with money up in the air, causing a nervous police officer to accidentally shoot Lola in the chest.
After that, Lola and Manni are shown lying in bed together. Lola recalls a conversation with Manni about their love, and whether she wanted to leave him. The movie returns to the dying Lola. Her decision was to not leave Manni, and she does not want to die.
Lola again starts running, only to be tripped by the man with the dog. Falling down the stairs, Lola injures her leg, which makes her limp temporarily. Running to the bank, she collides with the woman pushing a baby carriage, who later wins the lottery and lives a life of luxury. Passing the cyclist, she accuses him of stealing the bike he is selling; a flash forward shows he becomes homeless. Manni, again borrowing the blind lady's phone card, unsuccessfully tries to borrow money.
After causing a slightly different car accident between Mr. Meier and the white BMW, Lola arrives at the bank. Her later arrival, due to her earlier injury, allows her dad's mistress to explain he is not the child's father. Lola hears them arguing. Infuriated, Lola leaves the bank, but then comes back, grabs the security guard's gun, takes her father hostage and robs the bank. A flash forward shows a banker she passes falling in love with a colleague. Lola is confronted by the police, but escapes because they mistake her for a fleeing bystander. Passing the ambulance, Lola asks for a ride, distracting the driver and causing him to hit the glass pane. Reaching the rendezvous, Lola shouts Manni's name, and this time he hears her. Manni walks towards Lola, only to be run over by the speeding ambulance.
Manni recalls asking Lola how she would cope with his death. He believes she would mourn for a few weeks, then find another boyfriend, but Lola says that he is still alive. The film returns to the present and shows the injured or dying Manni.
This time, Lola leaps over the punk and his dog. She avoids the woman with the baby carriage, who in a flash forward joins a church and devotes herself to God. Lola also narrowly misses the cyclist; he offers his bike to the homeless man, who uses some of Manni's money to buy it. Lola falls onto the bonnet of Mr. Meier's car, preventing his collision with the white BMW, allowing him to pick up Lola's dad. Lola sees them drive away. Disheartened, she continues running aimlessly and is nearly run over by a truck. She then sees a casino across the street. Having only 99 marks, she convinces the cashier to give her a 100 mark chip. Betting the chip at a roulette table, she wins 3500 marks. She bets everything on the same number and wins over 100,000 marks. Leaving the casino with the money in a bag, she finds herself behind the ambulance. Lola climbs inside as it avoids the glass pane. An attendant is frantically working to keep the security guard from the bank alive. She holds the guard's hand and, to the attendant's surprise, his heart rate stabilises.
Meanwhile, after Manni's unsuccessful phone call, he spots the homeless man passing by on a bike, with his bag in the basket. Manni chases him, inadvertently causing a head-on collision between the white BMW, Mr. Meier, and the man who stole Lola's moped. Mr. Meier, Lola's dad and the thief are knocked out or dead. Manni manages to retrieve his money. The homeless man asks for his gun, and Manni, for some reason, gives it to him. Lola reaches the rendezvous, but cannot find Manni. She then sees a car pull up. Manni and Ronnie get out and shake hands. Manni joins Lola and asks her what is in the bag she is carrying. The film ends with a freeze-frame on Lola's reaction.
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.
There are also several references to German culture in the film. The most notable is the use of Hans Paetsch as a narrator. Paetsch is a famous voice of children's stories in Germany, recognized by millions. Many of the small parts are cameos by famous German actors (for example the bank teller). Also, two quotes by German football legend Sepp Herberger appear: "The ball is round, the game lasts 90 minutes, everything else is pure theory," and, "After the game is before the game."
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.
However, the film can also be regarded as emphasizing the free will side, as in each iteration, Lola improved the outcome by being more and more determined and assertive of her actions. Other characters' stories can be regarded as only asides to Lola's: they didn't take resolute and self-aware actions as Lola did so they got mostly random outcomes.
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 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 through out 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.