What better a film to write about in the Timely Blogathon than Lola rennt (Run Lola Run) which is theoretically a 20 minute or so story? (The runtime on IMDB states 81 minutes but my DVD states and runs for 77)
Lola (Franka Potente) receives a desperate phone call from small-time crook boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) who is no longer in pocession of 100,000 Deutschmark he owes a guy and now fears for his life. Given only 20 minutes to meet up with him to find a solution, Lola heads off running (hence the appropriate title). The film presents those 20 minutes 3 times but each with a different outcome due to a change in one event at the start. But 3 x 20 minutes doesn’t add up to 81 (or 77) minutes? Agreed…but they’re interspersed with all sorts of odds and ends. Odds and ends that make you think.
Right from the onset Lola rennt (1998) portrays a sense of urgency. There is no easing into this one and before any visuals appear (bar two quotes*) we hear the rapid tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick which evolves into similarly pushing, rushing, hurrying music. Then…a grotesque pendulum bob slowly pushing the opening credits away and eventually we see the actual face, equally grotesque but with spinning hands. The pace is set. Time is critical. The viewer already edgy. And we’re kept that way throughout the film. Flashbacks, time-lapse effects, flash forwards, clocks, even Lola’s tortoise all add to that feeling. Relentlessly. Brilliantly.
We’re told it is all just a game. In fact, the whole film gives us a game-mode feeling where you can just start over. Lola is represented in two ways – briefly as a character in a game and then the actual person living the story, or is it the game? And in typical game style, she gets a second, even third attempt at reaching her goal in the stipulated time. The start of each of the 20 minutes is so wonderfully done: the real Lola runs out of her apartment, down the stairwell and in doing so passes her neighbour’s open door where the animated Lola is running down the same stairs on the television. On one of the landings she encounters a boy and his dog who’s actions change each time thus triggering a different chain of events. Once the events are triggered, we’re back to the real Lola.
Lola rennt is one of the great films that has you pondering how, in your own life, the smallest event or decision can change everything. Not only for you but everyone. Just think…if you do something slightly differently there will be a different outcome (noticeable or not) which in turn impacts someone else which impacts someone else and so on. The film highlights this throughout the 3 lots of 20 minutes. Oh the magnitude of a decision!
Directed by Tom Tykwer, this German film is perfectly paced and superbly made. It brings across the urgency of the situation so convincingly that you’ll be wanting to run with Lola. As always, watch it because I don’t want to spoil it for you. It is well worth it.
PS: I believe that the route Lola takes is cut together from various parts of Berlin to form a “fictional” one.
*Quotes (Sourced from viewing the film):
T. S. Eliot: “Wir lassen nie vom Suchen ab, und doch, am Ende allen unseren Suchens, sind wir am Ausgangspunkt zurück und werden diesen Ort zum ersten Mal erfassen.”
S. Herberger: “Nach dem Spiel Ist vor dem Spiel.”
A Timely Blogathon team – thanks for hosting this wonderful idea of a Blogathon!