Movie Review – Run Lola Run (1998): A Rapid German Classic

Director and Screenplay: Tom Tykwer
Cast: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup
Language: German (original), English

„Every second of every day you’re faced with a decision that can change your life.“

Run Lola Run” (1998) is a real classic when it comes to German independent movies. The movie begins with Lola, who receives a phone call from her boyfriend called Manni, a small-time criminal who just made 100.000 DM but forgot it on the train. He tells Lola that she has 20 minutes to get the money back and to meet him, otherwise he will be murdered by his boss Ronnie for not having the money. Planning to rob a nearby supermarket, Manni is urged to wait by Lola, who promises to find the money.

The main part of the film is divided in three “runs”. Each run starts from the same situation but develops differently and has a different outcome. Each run contains various flash-forward sequences, showing how the lives of the people that Lola bumps into develop after the encounter. In each run, those people are affected in different ways, which is shown in short scenes afterwards.

The movie puts a huge emphasis on the role of chance in people’s destinies and themes such as free will versus determinism. Lola meets new people or even has little interactions with random people and they reveal to have surprising effects on their future lives. This can be seen as some kind of chaos theory’s butterfly effect, where minor variations in any interaction can develop much wider results than it is often recognised.

“Run Lola Run” was ranked #68 in Empire magazine’s “The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema” in 2010 and it won the German movie award in 1999.

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