RUN LOLA RUN: The Film that Saved Me From Death

Well not death, exactly, but boredom. A much more painful type of suffering.

I was first introduced to this film slapbang in the middle of the most boring lecture in the history of lectures! Two hours into the four and a half hours scheduled time, I heard those wonderful words: “Let’s watch a film to apply this theory’. Not just a clip, a whole film! I prayed it wouldn’t be Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein,1925) again. This time we were in luck!

I’m glad I stayed awake long enough to witness Run Lola Run (Tykwer,1999). For those of you who don’t know (and I’d be surprised if you did) it is an action packed German drama. I’m a fan of early German cinema, so I knew this film would capture my heart with its strange German feel, just like Das cabinet des Dr.Caligari (Weine, 1920).

Run Lola Run or Lola Rennt follows the story of a young woman trying to save her stupid boyfriend, Manni. Manni doesn’t buy a tram ticket and instead of just paying the fine or buying a ticket on board, like a normal person, he drops the bag containing 100,000 Deutsche mark, which is picked up by a homeless man.

I have a lot of problems with Manni as a character. Why didn’t he ‘borrow’ some money from the bag to pay the ticket? He had enough to pay everyone’s transport fees for a year. The gang he was delivering to would probably have found that funny instead of punishing him. However Manni’s stupidity does allow us to meet Lola. The film perked my interest because here we now have a story of a woman saving a man. Hollywood would never allow this.

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Avert your eyes! Lola isn’t even sexualised. She is just a normal woman doing what we do best: saving the day.

I like how this plays into the narrative. Tykwer uses three different versions of an ending, sending Lola running back to the beginning everytime something goes horribly wrong. Lola dies, Manni dies, and then finally they get it right. Personally I dislike the ending. Lola saves the day and yet Manni finally manages to get the money back. I can’t understand why Lola doesn’t rub it in his face that she got him out of trouble. When Manni asks ‘what’s in the bag?’ Lola just smiles. Part of me wishes she doesn’t ever tell him and leaves his sorry ass to travel the world, but the cynic in me knows that she’ll stay with him and spend the money on them.

I like how the camerawork in the film gives it an alternate reality feel, even before we realise that’s what’s happening. When Lola first leaves the house, the camera goes from the dominos on TV to the TV in her mother’s room which shows a cartoon version of Lola running downstairs.  

Without the male characters in the film, Lola’s Father, Manni, the homeless man, there would be no narrative –– no one for Lola to save. Yet imagine the film without Lola. Manni would still rob the shop and probably die, he’d have no one to call to help him. Lola’s father would still end up with a child from his mistress, and the homeless man would probably run off with the money and never be seen again.

Lola has given up everything to save Manni. She dies for him in one reality, she almost gets arrested, and she must be very tired from all that running!

I love this film because it’s weird and quirky and quite open-ended. It gives a nice perspective on women but if they ever try and make a sequel, I demand an apology from Manni on behalf of Lola.