Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Run Lola Run (1998)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Run Lola Run (1998, Germ.) (aka Lola Rennt)

In director Tom Tykwer's relentlessly-thrilling, kinetic, adrenalized hit film about fate and destiny - it was notable for its techno/industrial soundtrack, the use of a mix of visual styles (similar to a video game or MTV short), high-speed flash-forwards and multiple images of ticking time-pieces; it was released about 10 years after German reunification, and the film became a symbol of the new dynamism and life-altered character of the reunited city in the late 1990s as it was being rebuilt; the film paid homage to at least three films: Fred Zinnemann's High Noon (1952) with its short real-time timeframe, Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) with its many 'spirals' (and rotating camera shots) plus its referential portrait in a casino of Kim Novak (seen from behind, with a spiral hair-do), and the robbery sequence in Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994):

  • the film began with a few quotes - one about cyclical time and thought exploration, and the other about a game being repeated or done-over:
    • "We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." - T.S. Eliot (from "Little Gidding")
    • "After the game is before the game." - S. Herberger (W. German, World Cup soccer coach)
  • afterwards, the swinging end of a pendulum below a stone, gothic wall clock with gargoyle-like features swept or swished across a black background (with the sound of a ticking clock, maybe a countdown?), before the camera moved upwards to the clock-face (with rapidly moving hour and minute hands denoting the passage of time) and 'dove' into a grotesque creature's open, dark and gaping mouth as if it was being consumed

The End of the Pendulum

The Rapidly-Spinning Clockface

The Mouth of the Clock Creature
  • entry into the clock's mouth was followed by some vague and deep voice-over speculations while groups of individuals were milling about - the questions were about the mystery of mankind, with references to the game of roulette with a wheel and round balls or to the game of football (soccer) - or to the length of the sports game or the film itself (90 minutes): "Man - probably fhe most mysterious species on our planet. A mystery of unanswered questions. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? How do we know what we fhink we know? Why do we believe anyfhing at all? Countless questions in search of an answer, an answer that will give rise to a new question - and the next answer will give rise to the next question and so on and so on. But, in the end, isn't it always the same question? And always the same answer? The ball is round. The game lasts 90 minutes. You must agree. All the rest is pure theory. So it happens!!"
  • all of the people observed in the film's prologue formed to create two words to spell the film's title - seen in a bird's eye view from far above (after a tracking shot followed a kicked soccer football into the air by a security guard - one of the film's characters); during the subsequent credits, a cartoon image appeared - a red-haired female (viewed from behind) who ran into a spiraling vortex (or time travel tunnel?) - she punched actor's names that popped up while being attacked by bats; she ran into the face of the wall clock (into the creature's mouth with a row of teeth) and into another vortex; she dodged swinging pendulums but was sucked into the vortex; actor and character names were displayed with mug-snapshots of each actor
  • the film officially opened with a zoom in to a phone call to a red phone placed from a claustrophobic, yellow Berlin phone booth by panicked, light-haired boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu); he frantically spoke to his 24 year-old girlfriend of over a year - tattooed, punkish, short red-haired Lola (Franke Potente) - she was in their apartment room with red candles and red posters; she explained that she had been delayed to pick him up when her moped was robbed while she was buying cigarettes; she had to take a taxi home
  • the distraught, petty crook Manni explained how he had messed up as a courier (during a test run) because she was not there to pick him up to take him to his boss; at first, the initial stops along the way went smoothly: (1) smuggled cars were exchanged for diamonds, (2) Manni was driven across the Berlin border, (3) at a greenhouse, Manni traded the diamonds for cash - but then when Lola wasn't there to pick him up, he was forced to walk to a subway station to take a train to meet with his bald-headed boss Ronnie (Heino Ferch), a black market car dealer/gangster, to deliver the cash; however, he had inadvertently left the bag of cash on his subway train car when he exited; the loot in a sack was picked up by a long-haired bum ("plastic bag freak") named Norbert von Au (Joachim Król); completely reliant and dependent on Lola, Manni blamed her absence for his current predicament: ("This could only happen to me! If you'd picked me up, it wouldn't have happened. I was so out of it. You're always on time otherwise")
  • now, Manni had only about 20 minutes until his scheduled 12 noon appointment with Ronnie, and he needed 100,000 marks (about $56,000 dollars at the time) for the delivery; to deal with his situation, Manni threatened to rob a nearby BOLLE supermarket to replace the finds ("In 20 minutes, I'll be dead unless I steal the money!"); Lola told Manni to wait for her ("I'll get the money somehow")
  • there were three breath-taking, beat-the-clock rounds, episodes, or problem-solving attempts, similar to rounds of a video-game - the game's goal was to acquire 100,000 marks and get to Manni before 12 pm; the game play's three levels (or 'runs') were largely shot in real time (the three 20-minute runs, all 'what-if' scenarios, were actually 15, 16 and 18.5 minutes) - all of the obstacle course sequences began with Lola slamming down her red phone and running from her building; Lola had to accomplish the impossible by frantically running or racing (from the former East Berlin to West Berlin) and acquiring replacement cash of $100,000 Deutsch marks in 20 minutes so that Manni didn't have to commit a robbery - and have them suffer fateful consequences
Lola's Determination to Solve Their Problem
Lola - With Light Green Trousers, Henna-Red Hair, and Bluish Tank Top

  • in the first unsuccessful attempt or "run" (each 'run' began with a cartoon sequence on the TV in her mother's room), Lola raced from her apartment down spiraling stairs and avoided a growling dog (and its master) on the stairs that caused her to speed up on her way to a Deutsche Transfer Bank to speak to her workaholic bank-manager father "Papa" (Herbert Knaup); on the way, among other things, she triggered a minor auto accident that delayed both parties: (her father's colleague Herr Meier (Ludger Pistor) on his way to the bank, and Manni's boss Ronnie), and ran by the bum with the money bag
  • at the bank, Lola interrupted her father who had just finished a conversation with his insistent mistress Frau Jutta Hansen (Nina Petri) (on the bank's board of directors) who claimed she was pregnant and needed a commitment from him; Lola begged her father for the money to prevent Manni from dying: ("I need 100,000 marks immediately...I need it within the next five minutes, or else... something terrible will happen!...If you don't help me, he'll die"); he refused to help Lola, told her that he was under-appreciated and was leaving the family and eloping: ("Tell your mother I won't be home today or tomorrow or ever again. I'm leaving you guys and marrying another woman. We're going to have kids, and I'll try to be happy because she wants me"); he also told her that she was a "weirdo" and "cuckoo" and that she wasn't his biological daughter: ("I'd never have fathered a weirdo like you...The guy who fathered you didn't live to see your birth"); he curtly dismissed her (the bank's security guard, Schuster (Armin Rohde), was ordered to throw her out)
First Attempt: At Her Father's Bank

Lola's Philandering Bank Manager Father

The Pregnant Mistress Frau Hansen

Lola Thrown Out of the Bank by the Security Guard
  • Lola ran to meet Manni but was too late - she asked "Why didn't you wait for me?" - he was already in the midst of robbing the supermarket of 100,000 Deutschmarks with a weapon; Manni was accosted by a security guard and held up his hands, but then Lola knocked out the guard from behind and joined in the heist with a second gun; Manni emptied the cash registers and then they both fled on foot; however, they were surrounded by police cars on two sides and as Manni threw the sack of money into the air (this act recalled the soccer ball and the phone in mid-air); a gun was accidentally triggered in a nervous policeman's hand and he fatally shot Lola in the chest
  • the film's clever twist was that she was given the chance to try again, to play another two rounds of the game until she was able to succeed; her second and third attempts were off by only a matter of seconds each time, drastically altering the outcomes and consequences; (as they fled on foot during the first attempt, Dinah Washington's tune was heard: "What a Difference a Day Makes"); all of the scenes of Lola and Manni were shot on 35 mm, and other flashback inserts were in black and white; whenever Lola bumped into passersby, their future would flash-forward - with a clicking noise and fast flip-book cutting effect of photo stills
  • the three rounds or "runs" that were looped together were connected by two reddish-tinted interludes (of Lola and Manni lying together in bed after making love?, conversing, showing their insecurities, and discussing their love for each other and their relationship); she was determined to not die: "I don't want to leave"
  • in the second unsuccessful attempt, Lola again raced from her home, and was deliberately tripped by the man with his dog on the stairs; injured, she was slightly disabled and forced to limp, causing her to arrive about 10 seconds later at the bank; the conversation between her father and his mistress brought the claim that he hadn't fathered the unborn child: ("Do you want to have a baby with me?...Even if it isn't from you?"); when Lola burst in on them unexpectedly, they were arguing and she was blaming him: "If you hadn't neglected me, it wouldn't have happened"; her father angrily denounced her: "I have a family! I can't leave a sick wife and three kids just to please Her Highness"; Lola was upset by the scene and asked: "Who's that slut?"; after Lola called the woman "a stupid cow," her father slapped her; she fled the office, grabbed the security guard's gun, held her father hostage, and robbed the bank of 100,000 Deutschmarks; she was able to slip by alerted police surrounding the bank outside who thought she was a hostage or bystander, and was able to run to Manni just in time with the bag of money (before he robbed the supermarket), but as Manni holstered his gun and walked toward her, he was run over and killed in the middle of the street by a speeding red ambulance
Second Attempt: The Bank Hold-Up

Lola's Father Held Hostage

Lola's Bank Hold-Up

Outside the Bank with the Money
  • in the third successful attempt, Lola jumped over the man and his dog to avoid a collision and did not trigger an auto accident early on; when she arrived at the bank ahead of time, her father had already been picked up by Herr Meier (who arrived at the bank on time - without the accident); at the same time, Manni spotted the homeless man (with his money bag) riding by on a bicycle, and chased after him; his actions caused a car crash between Herr Meier, Ronnie's car, and the thief who stole Lola's moped (getting his come-uppance), with further repercussions; it appeared that Lola's father died in the crash, but all the mobsters survived
  • Lola aimlessly wandered into a casino (avoiding the dress code), and although she had only 99 marks, she was able to somehow acquire a single 100-mark chip; playing roulette (and while stifling an intense high-pitched scream), she bet on Black 20 (with a payout of 35 to 1) and won 3,500 Deutschmarks; putting together her original 100 marks plus her winnings, her second bet (also on Black 20) was 3,600 marks; with an ear-shattering scream, she won; her second bet brought her total winnings to 129,600 marks
  • simultaneously, Manni caught up to the bum and stole back the money (in exchange for his gun for the unfortunate homeless man); Lola hitched a ride in the red ambulance (the bank's security guard was being transported to the hospital after a heart attack - he was Lola's 'real' father!); pausing from her own predicament, she held the guard's hand and brought his heart EKG back to normal; both of their self-less actions helped in their ultimate successes
  • Lola was dropped off at the cross-roads intersection (across from the supermarket) where Manni was hit and killed in the second attempt; by then, Manni had just delivered the money bag to his boss, and then he walked over to Lola; he reassured her: "Did you run here? Don't worry. Everything's okay. Come on" - he also casually asked her what was in her plastic bag ("What's in the bag?") - it was the film's last line before a freeze-frame; the story ended happily, but only after two earlier attempts had very different outcomes (in the first two cases, robberies of money led to death); the credits scrolled from top to bottom
Third Attempt: At the Casino

Bet on Black 20

Roulette Wheel: Win

Casino Painting
  • one must ask - had they completely escaped the looping cycle of death and rebirth?

Cartoonish Lola in Vortex

Opening Mug-Shot Credits

Setup: Manni on Phone with Lola Explaining His Predicament

First Attempt: Minor Car Accident

Split-Screen: Manni Waiting For Lola

Manni Robbing the Supermarket

First Attempt: Lola Fatally Shot in Chest

Reddish-Tinged Flashback Interlude: Manni and Lola in Love With Each Other Discussing Their Relationship and Insecurities

Second Attempt: Tripped on Stairs

Second Attempt: Manni Run Over by Ambulance

Third Attempt: Major Car Accident

Third Attempt: Bum with Stolen Money on Bicycle Accosted by Manni

Lola Saved the Life of Her Real Father in Ambulance By Holding His Hand

Manni: "Did you run here? Don't worry. Everything's okay. Come on. What's in the bag?"


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