I have to say, it was a pleasure watching Run Lola Run in class today. Tom Tykwer takes us through an incredibly offbeat, intense and interesting ride that follows a young woman and her boyfriend’s struggle to return 100,000 marks to his boss to avoid getting killed.
Despite being made 17 years ago, the film is still refreshingly un-linear in its story telling, and involves a big of magical realism. How many movies do you ever get to see where the main character is shot dead in the first 30 minutes? Surprising the viewer like this speaks greatly to a generational shift away from beginning-middle-end story telling and towards a style that defies rhetorical laws. But laws are meant to be broken in the art world, and Tykwer couldn’t have accomplished this any better. He plays with time through his exhaustingly intense montages of Lola running through streets in the city over and over and over again throughout the film, and leaves us with a constant sense of doubt about the re-vitalized future.
What I thought was the most interesting thing that Tykwer did, though, was his inclusion of conversations between Manni and Lola in bed after each one of them takes a turn dying as a result of miscues in their mission to reclaim 100,000 marks. As each seem to be on the verge of dying, a slow zooming close up on the faces of the near-deceased results in a transition to the two of them lying next to eachother in bed, questioning each other’s dedication to each other. Lola is interested in knowing if Manni really loves her, and Manni later wants to know if Lola would really care if he died. The characters themselves are refreshingly realistic in their approach of their answers, and the dialogue is captivating as it does not glorify concepts of love and death, but rather demonstrates the deep fear associated with both topics. The scene is lit with a deep, disturbing red color, and serves to heat up the angst that both feel as they converse. Tykwer accomplishes an odd cinematic Purgatory here, which results in a final gasp for life that sends a bag of money falling to the earth, a phone falling onto its jack and a red-haired Lola once more sprinting from her home to try to save the day.
Further, Tykwer accomplishes an amazing affect in the way that he includes a lightening quick photo-montage of the seemingly uninteresting people that Lola runs into as she runs to Manni. These people are characterized multiple times in multiple different ways through only a couple snapshots of their future or previous lives, leaving us with an odd connection to all of them, maybe even a certain sadness. Tykwer show us his power as a film maker – he controls what we think of, what we see, what we care about. We are in the midst of thinking solely of the lives of Lola and Manni as they face imminent death up until these points, and we are forced instead to give weight to the lives of trivial characters and their stories. In under an hour and a half we see two main characters die twice, and in about 5 seconds we see the condensed story of a passing character’s death. The power to create an emotional connection in only a couple of seconds is one that only film makers possess to this extent, as the assumption is that the viewer as bought into the entire experience from the very beginning.