Archive for July 11th, 2009

Run Lola Run

I often suggest to friends films they should see, most of the time they tend to pay less attention to me when the film in question has subtitles but it doesn’t stop me trying.  One such film is Run Lola Run (or Lola Rennt to give it its original German title).  If like so many people you have a subtitle phobia it is probably one of the best films of recent years that you have never seen.


Lola (Franka Potente) has 20 minutes to get 100,000 Deutschmarks to her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) before he robs a supermarket to pay back the mob after leaving their money on the train.  The story then takes us trough three stories of how those twenty minutes could play out.  Each version is different as Lola tries different ways of getting the money.  Along the way in each story we see how the events not just affect her but also the people she comes into contact with via the ingenious use of photo montages.  When it came out one review called it Sliding Doors on speed although I think it is more influenced by the films of Krzysztof Kieslowski who the director Tom Tykwer is a fan of. 

run lola run poster

lola and manniThe three versions are usually attributed to alternative realities that change based on decisions the characters make as well as fate and chance but Lola’s actions are informed by the events of the previous versions.  This ability to put things right could be interpreted in lots of ways, I like to think in is a metaphor for Manni and Lola’s relationship or any relationship for that matter.  Others have suggested it is mealy like pressing the reset button for the Play Station generation.  This computer game analogy is an interesting one suggesting Lola as the primary character has a greater influence over other characters than they have over her.   But also that she is confined by the rules of the game. But what are the rules of the game? They themselves could represent the rules of society .

LolaThe film is shot with breathtaking pace, this is in part due to the frantic editing with a cut every couple of seconds at times.  This is a style that we see more and more of these days but it was far less common when the film was made in the late 90’s.  One advantage of this style is that it is easy to hype things up or calm them down when needed by simply using shorter or longer takes as needed.  A sort of cinematic equivalent to Ian Fleming’s use of very short sentences in his James Bond novels.  This is what they do towards the end of the film, slowing the pace down as we reach a conclusion.  The film has a distinctive look juxtaposing the grey Berlin backdrop with very bright and bold colour (not least Potente’s hair).  The striking look is partly down to the excellent use of lighting and photography by cinematographer Frank Griebe who has work with Tom Tykwer on many films.  To go with the distinctive look the film also has a distinctive sound with much of the music written by Tykwer; Franka Potente even supplies vocals on one track the recurs throughout the film. 

nunsIt is the film that gave director Tom Tykwer and stars Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu internationally recognition. This is probably because of the simplicity and originality coupled with themes of universal appeal.  It could have been made in any city in the world in any language and it would have worked.  All this was made for a total budget less than $2million (US).  That is less than was spent on providing Coffee for the cast and crew on the Lord Of The Rings films.  In a summer of big budget films that disappoint it is always good to look back at films like this to remind us of how much can be done with so little.


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