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Review of Run Lola Run: The Ball is Round, Everything Else is Theory Saturday, 31 January, 2009

Posted by ~uh~™ in Favourites, World Movies.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The original review published on 30 October 2006 it can be read in its original context here.

Franka Potente as Lola on the Run


I always wanted to write about this movie. This assembly of texts generated from the inexpert mind should not be read as a mere review but more as a passionate admiration towards a masterpiece in cinema, placed immortal in my psyche. The movie acts as guideline to me, to make decisions and to take fate in my side, whenever I get into crisis in life.

The movie was originally made in German named “Lola Rennt” meaning, “Lola runs” or “Lola is running” and directed by German screenwriter and Director Tom Tykwer in 1998. The entire movie is shot in Berlin. The movie can be termed as “technical” due to its innumerable experimentation with cinematography, camera, editing, music, detailing and is based on a “non-linear” or “spiral” way of storytelling. This movie undoubtedly is a yardstick in world cinema due to its complex and fast paced cinematography combined with distinctive style and experimentation with conventional story told in a radical way. However, the director has acknowledged his influence from “Vertigo” directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Mani and Lola

Spoiler warning- I am going to tell the complete story including the ending.

Lola is a red haired girl, whose boyfriend is Mani. Mani works as an errand for a smuggler Don, called Ronnie. Mani has been given a final assignment to transfer One Hundred Thousand grands to Ronnie after a deal. It was planned that Lola shall drop Mani to his destination on her moped. Lola’s moped gets stolen while buying a pack of smoke, en-route to the place where Mani is waiting. Mani resorts to subway train, as Lola doesn’t turn up. Unfortunately Mani is noticed by 2 cops and because of Mani’s criminal reflex, he tries to run away, leaving the sack of money in the train. The sack is discovered by a vagabond, and carries the sack away with the money. The drama starts when Mani after getting released from the cops, gives a frantic call to Lola and asks for help. If Mani is unable to deliver the 100 grands to Ronnie by noon, he will get killed. Mani states that he will rob the departmental stores if Lola fails to bring the money by 12. Lola assures to help Mani and bring the money, somehow and request Mani to wait here he is. That’s at 11:40 Am. Mani & Lola has just time till 12:00 noon. 20 minutes to gather 100 grands. The drama starts here. There are 3 alternative situations depicted with different results each happening in the 20 minutes.

The conspicuos red hair

Use of animation on the staircase scene

Lola has little time and no vehicle, so she runs down the stairway (shown in animation) through the streets of Berlin to reach her father’s bank, to ask the money from him. Lola’s father refuses. She bumps over her father’s colleague’s car, subjecting him to meet an accident with another car full of goons. He also declares that he is quitting home for his mistress, further declaring that her real father is someone else. Irrespective, Lola runs to where Mani is. In between she passes an ambulance that stops in front gang carrying a large glass pane. She reaches just little late, Mani has started the robbery. Lola help Mani in the robbery and they both try to run away. But cops surround them eventually and Lola is accidentally shot by a cop’s revolver. Before Lola dies a sequence of memory is shown in rapid succession and the story starts again.


The story starts from hanging the phone. This time while running down the stairway she trips over a boy and a dog, again shown in animation. She bumps over her father’s colleague’s car again, subjecting him to meet with an accident with another car full of goons. This time Lola is late to arrive at her father’s bank, giving enough time to the mistress to express that she is pregnant by some other man. Lola has an extremely animated argument with her father and robs the bank for the money holding her father at gunpoint. While running to Mani she crossed the ambulance distracting the driver. The ambulance bangs into the glass pane, and driver puts it to a halt. That delays the ambulance, which subsequently hits Mani and kills him even Lola reaches on time.

Before every sequence starts they are seen in bed under red light

Before every sequence starts they are seen in bed under red light


The story restarts for the third and final time. Lola this time is faster than the earlier 2 sequences and runs past well before her father’s colleague takes his car out, thus giving enough time for the colleague to pick her father to work. This makes Lola reach early in the bank and she could not meet her father. Frustrated she runs without knowing what to do. She stops at a casino, starts playing with a minimum in the roulette table and wins more than 100 grands. With enough money but not enough time she gets into the ambulance from the rear door. The ambulance this time stops to let the glass pane carriers cross the road. The ambulance is carrying her father’s colleague who suffers an accident again, this time fatal for her father. The colleague, who is dying, surprisingly revives when Lola holds her hand. Probably he was Lola’s real father. Meantime Mani bumps into the vagabond who is carrying the sack! The vagabond returns the money in exchange of Mani’s gun. Lola reaches with the money, but late, by the time Mani has handed over the cash to Ronnie and gets released as free man. Lola meets Mani, he asks “did you run?” The movie sharply ends with Mani’s next question- “What’s in the bag?”

The presentation

In between all the sequences Lola runs and hits and pounds on various people, goes through different sequence of events changed due to different timing. The people whom she hits, are shown as  rapid sequence of stills to their future. Each times the future and the stills vary. These people include the Bicycle rider who offers Lola her bicycle, the lady in the bank each changing their fate in each sequence.

The movie compels one to think about the unpredictability of human life and the questions arising about the very being of the mankind. The movie thematically symbolizes the change of fate and different consequences simply by one persons running.

The entire movie is out and out thrilling, complicated, grasping and placed apace. The drama, music, cinematography and editing is precise and at places mind-blowing. The detailing in the movie is numerous. The drama is accentuated with radical objects and effects- like Lola’s read hair, the red ambulance, and her shout breaking glass objects.

Finally, the beginning punch line summarizes “The ball is round, a game lasts 90 minutes, everything else is pure theory. Off we go!”

The Scream
The Scream

Few techniques and experimentation observed in RLR, and compiled from various articles, web pages on the movie –

1.  It’s a 20 minutes story told three times in a different way in almost real time totaling 71 mins. The total movie length is 87 mins.2. The soundtrack is in English even in the original German version.

3. This film has around 1581 shot transitions (edits, dissolves, fades, wipes, etc) making an average shot Length is approx 2.7 seconds.

4. The editing gets slower towards the end compared to beginning of the. Interestingly, it is mostly opposite for most contemporary films.

5.  Actress Franka Potente playing Lola is directed to sport red hair,   very  unique and conspicuous.

6. Lola runs because her moped is stolen.

7. Lola plays with the number 20 in the Roulette table and wins.

8. The movie begins with a narration – Mankind, probably the most mysterious species on our planet. A mystery of open questions. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? How do we know what we believe to know? Why do we believe anything at all? Innumerable questions looking for an answer, an answer which will raise the next question and the following answer will raise a following question and so on and so forth. But in the end, isn’t it always the same question and always the same answer?

Click to see some old comments .

The Game is not over......



1. nursemyra - Tuesday, 2 June, 2009

I really liked this movie. And I have the same red streaks in my hair as Lola had all over…..

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