Run Lola Run

Run Lola Run
Get 100,000 in 20 minutes, or you lose the
• Symbolism is used in film to imply thoughts, feelings, or ideas in
the characters that the director does not want to state outright
through speech or action.
Spirals: Spirals represent the circular narrative, and the cyclical and interconnected nature of life. Here are some
thoughts: “…spirals represent confusion and desperation. It is used in scenes in which a character is unsure of what to do or
is puzzled about what is going to happen next. The spiral is used to imply Manni's confusion about the events of the day prior
to his call to Lola while he is outside of the Spiral Bar. The logo of the bar, a spinning spiral that hangs above the entrance, is
seen above Manni's head as he makes his frenzied call to Lola. The spiral helps the viewer to understand the confused
thoughts that are running through Manni's head as to what to do about the money he owes to Ronnie, a German gangster. It
also represents Manni's desperation for help, which is the reason he calls Lola in the first place. It is seen with Lola as first
leaves her house she is seen running down a spiral staircase” – Spirals also reference the film, Vertigo
• Boxes: Manni is often filmed within a box, or looking at boxes. This symbolises his feeling trapped within his situations. It
is not until he comes out of the telephone booth in the final sequence that he stops looking at boxes or being trapped within
one (he is able to chase down the bum and retrieve his money, thus freeing him from his situation)
• Circles: symbolic of both time and the cycles which trap characters (specifically Lola, who is trapped in this constant
live-die-retry scenario until she finds a way to ‘win the game’). When she screams in the final sequence, she breaks the
circular clock and stops the circular roulette table, thus symbolically breaking the cycle she is trapped within.
• Colours (Red): “…red is used to symbolize danger and death.
Not only does the film use red, it uses an intense, vivid shade of the
brightest red. We are easily able to see the colour on different objects
as it stands out and catches our eye as we watch. The first time we
see the colour red, it is the phone that Lola answers in her apartment.
Sitting in the middle of the room, the bright red phone seems to be
the bearer of bad news - news of danger and death. After Lola
answers the phone, we realize that we were correct as Manni gives
her the disastrous news.” The intermission scenes after each death
are also tinged with this same vibrant red. Red also acts as a
reflection of the situation and heightened passions.
• Glass: symbol of vulnerability (esp. when tested by Lola’s force).
When she shatters both her father’s clock and the glasses of the
casino patrons, it’s as if she is shattering their world (symbolically).
• Run Lola Run plays with genre and known
signifiers/concepts/cliches from them. By doing so, it cuts
down time in regards to audience understanding. Some genres
employed include:
• The soap opera (esp. in regards to the affair between Lola’s
father and his mistress).
• The Heist/Criminal film
• Race against time
• The casino
• The Bank (and supermarket) robbery
• This allows Tykwer to explore a variety of ideas which
originate within these genres in a limited space of time.
Subversion of Genre
• “director Tom Tykwer is a fan of repetition—both visual
and aural… Tykwer's use of "Groundhog Day"
repetitiveness, with its three parallel realities, often gives
us a second and sometimes even a third chance to hear
certain lines in the movie. ”
• The purpose of the repetition is to highlight the concepts
of chance (and the slight changes which affect it). It also
allows the audience to grasp a deeper meaning of the film
by being able to compare the scenarios. (See three
sequences and chance slide)
Vertigo (1958)
- In Lola Rennt, the painting on the wall of the casino (woman in grey suit with hair in spiral bun) is of Madeleine
Elster (who in Vertigo is looking at a painting of Carlotta Valdes), and supports the spiral motif employed in both
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
- The match cut of the red bag filled with stolen money to the red phone falling into its place is an hommage to
Kubrick's famous shot
The Tin Drum (1979)
- In a few scenes, Lola breaks glass by screaming, just like Blechtrommel's main character Oskar. Similar cuts
between Lola and scattering glass items.
Blind Chance (1981)
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
News - Bericht über eine Reise in eine strahlende Zukunft (1986) (TV)
Trainspotting (1996)
- duplicates the shot in which Renton in Trainspotting is almost hit by a car
Dangan ranna (1996)
The Fifth Element (1997)
High Noon (1952) – the same noon deadline, also shot in real time
Pulp Fiction (1994)– Manni’s supermarket robbery is an allusion to this film.
Sliding Doors (1998) – alternative story lines.
Consider WHY these allusions are made, and why they are important. How do they add to the distinctively visual
nature of the film?
Allusions to other texts
• “…quotations by T.S. Eliot and Sepp Herberger. The modern
poet talks about circular time, continuous learning and
expanding perspectives. Germany’s soccer hero Herberger,
who coached the German national team to win the 1954 world
cup, on the other hand simply states: “After the game is before
the game”. Time is the main character in Run Lola Run and
the rules of the game are quickly established: come up with
100.000 DM in twenty minutes or you lose. After all, the
German word Spiel means 'game' and a feature film (or
Spielfilm) lasts about ninety minutes.”
• Remember, the text is also filmed in real time. That is, the
approximate time of the events within the film are the same as
time in real life. (Similar to High Noon)
Quotes and Time
• “…high and low culture are presented…when one of the most
famous German voices, Hans Paetsch, the German equivalent
of James Earl Jones, presents the Big Questions with which
Lola plays: “Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are
we going? How do we know what we believe to know? Why do
we believe anything at all? … But in the end, isn't it always the
same question and always the same answer?” (high culture)
To which security guard Schuster adds in true Herberger-style
before literally kick-starting the film: “A football is round, a
game lasts 90 minutes. That's a fact. Anything else is pure
theory. And off we go!” (low culture)”
Juxtaposition of High and
Low Culture
• 20 is a significant integer of the film: 20 minute deadline, 20
minute sequences, number 20 at the casino.
• Lola learns not to rely on parental support and as such,
“…Lola also figures out how to win her game. Instead of
robbing a supermarket or a bank, she finds herself in front of a
casino. In a reference to the first post-war German film to
win an Oscar, she screams like the clock-smashing Oskar
in The Tin Drum and breaks a lot of glass and shatters
realism. Not having to depend on weapons or her father, she
has learned to trust herself and uses her voice to stop the
wheel of time and the roulette wheel to win the 100.000 DM. It
has taken her twenty minutes and she bets everything on 20
(significance of ‘20’).”
• The plot of the film is non-linear, in a similar way to video games. This idea
is obviously supported by the three lives idea: make a mistake, die, re-spawn,
try again by slightly changing your decisions. In each sequence, the
characters also gain ‘new skills’ (such as Lola learning how to use a gun
• This is also further supported by the cartoon Lola sequence: It is this which
is where the first change in each sequence occurs (with her run in with the
boy and his dog).
• Lola is also given three chances in this film to start over, whereas many
similar films only give two chances. Consider: “…it's obvious that Lola
simply saved her game right after she spoke to Manni on the phone, so she
could go back and try again if she game-overed. And just as she would do
playing a video game, Lola uses knowledge acquired in previous iterations
and anticipates some of the obstacles that tripped her up before, making the
replay smoother... at least until new obstacles crop up.”
Video Games
• The cartoon Lola is swallowed up by the pendulum clock in the
opening sequence – highlighting the significance of clocks and time
from the very beginning.
• She is able to use her voice to stop time (casino scene), and time is
what dictates the entire film (the 20 minute deadline). The noon
deadline is also an interesting reference to the film High Noon (1952)
• It is interesting to note that in the opening credits, each name
disappears with the stroke of the pendulum clock, again symbolic of
the importance of time and its effects on people.
• The audience is constantly aware of the time, and clocks are a
constant feature of the film. They have an increased presence as each
sequence comes to a close, thus increasing the tension of the scene as
the characters ‘race against time’.
Clocks and Time
“Now, the point of the alternate storylines is, of course, a simple take on the butterfly
effect, that old theory that the tiniest interactions have the most drastic consequences. You
know, a butterfly flaps its wings in Beijing, and the distortion in the wind magnifies until a
thunderstorm hits San Fransisco. Every time Lola begins her run something minor occurs
in the beginning animated segment, and it generally informs the new direction her run
will take her.”
“You could also argue that Tykwer is making an argument for the idea of predestination
and fate with these runs. When Lola runs past a cyclist the first time and we see his future,
we see that he eventually crashes, falls in love with the nurse who helps him recover, and the
two live happily ever after. The second time Lola passes him, we see that he becomes a bum.
Everything is all a game of chance, and our lives all depend on the tiny interactions that
make them up.” (this also highlights the significance of her winning roulette – a game of
chance – to “win” the overall “game” of the story)
“…life is a complex interaction between chance and order. Chance adds uncertainty to
the direction of events, but order is imposed by a number of factors, including the human
The “What If…” idea: this links in with the above butterfly effect. The idea of “what if…I
didn’t meet that person/catch that train/say that thing” changing the ultimate outcome of the
day. This is addressed in several other films such as Sliding Doors and Groundhog Day
Three Sequences and
• Lola’s screams: “Her screams are one of her characteristics, a typical sign, as it
were: Every time things become tense and it seems like the chaos is near, Lola
tries to gain control of the chaos by means of screaming (by releasing the
pressure, as it were). An example can be found at the beginning of the film:
Manni doesn't listen to her and she starts screaming, so that he is quiet and
listens to what she has to say. Another example can be found in the office of
Lola's father (First Run). She screams just like someone who wants to stop the
noise of a group of people who all talk at the same time to make them listen.
The casino sequence intensifies her tension: After missing her father at the
bank, this one decisive round of roulette is literally a matter of (Manni's) life and
death: If it is not "20, black", she won't get the DM 100.000 and Manni's life is
In that way, her screaming is not just a poor gag to shock the establishment at
the casino (which indeed would have been ridiculous), but, quite on the contrary,
it is a reappearing theme in the film: everytime the chaos is haunting Lola, she
tries to influence the chaos /fate by the power of screaming”
Some other questions
• - I didn’t reference this one at all, but it
has some interesting theories on religious symbolism within the text.
• Excel HSC Standard English Text (online here:
References and further

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