Run Lola Run (original German title: Lola rennt) is a delirious staccato mix of animation, still photographs, and live action written and directed by Tom Tykwer, starring Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu.
Shot in the streets of Berlin, the film tells the story of Lola, a punkish young woman with bright red hair, who must find a way to get 100,000 Marks to her boyfriend, Manni, in 20 minutes to save him from being killed by gangsters. Inspired by Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Blind Chance (completed in 1981), Tom Tykwer’ film is divided in three “runs“, all starting from the same situation but developing differently, so the outcome changes accordingly. Each run contains several flash-forward sequences of still images, depicting how the lives of people that Lola bumps into develop after their encounter.
Much like Spielberg’s Duel (1971) is essentially one long, highly stylized car chase, Tykwer’s Run Lola Run is a wonderfully choreographed study of time and space, and the determination of physis in motion – touching on themes such as free will vs. determinism and chaos theory’s butterfly effect.
The blood-stirring techno soundtrack, composed by Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil, underpins the film’s motives.
The film contains allusions to Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo (1958), e.g. recurring images of spirals and spiral staircases, as well as a painting of a woman’s head seen from behind.
A vital contribution to contemporary German cinema, Run Lola Run has a significant influence on pop culture and other films. Sebastian Schipper’s energetic film Victoria (2015) also features a strong heroine who is ready to take on anything trying to help her boyfriend to get out of serious trouble. Victoria is also shot (in one take) in the streets of Berlin. Incidentally, Schipper played the part of Mike in Run Lola Run.
Run Lola Run is well-received by critics and audiences alike. The film is nominated for 41 awards, including the BAFTA Award for Best Film not in the English Language, of which it wins 26. Against a budget of only $1.75 million, Run Lola Run is also a box office success, earning $22.9 million worldwide.
An outspoken admirer of Run Lola Run, Steven Spielberg later helps Tykwer in the final editing process of The Perfume (2006) which he originally was interested in producing. Spielberg casts Moritz Bleibtreu as German terrorist Andreas Bader in Munich (2005). Minority Report (2002) contains references to Run Lola Run.
Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) are among Tom Tykwer’s favorite films.