Run Lola Run

Run Lola Run (German: Lola rennt) is a 1998 German experimental thriller film. The film was written and directed by Tom Tykwer, and stars Franka Potente as Lola and Moritz Bleibtreu as Manni. The story follows a woman who needs to obtain 100,000 Deutschmarks in twenty minutes to save her boyfriend's life.

Run Lola Run
Lola Rennt poster.jpg
Original German release poster
Directed byTom Tykwer
Produced byStefan Arndt
Written byTom Tykwer
Narrated byHans Paetsch
Music by
CinematographyFrank Griebe
Edited byMathilde Bonnefoy
Distributed byProkino Filmverleih
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • 20 August 1998 (1998-08-20)
Running time
80 minutes[1]
Budget$1.75 million[2]
Box office$22.9 million[2]

Run Lola Run screened at the Venice Film Festival, where it competed for the Golden Lion.[3] Following its release, the film received critical acclaim and several accolades, including the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics, the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Best Film at the Seattle International Film Festival, and seven awards at the German Film Awards. It was also selected as the German entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 71st Academy Awards, though it was not ultimately nominated.[4][5]


The house in Albrechtstraße (Berlin-Mitte) where the three episodes begin

Lola receives a frantic phone call from her boyfriend Manni, a bagman responsible for delivering 100,000 Deutschmarks. Over the phone, Manni explains that he was riding the subway to the drop-off location of the money and panicked at the sight of ticket inspectors, exiting the train before realizing that he had left the money bag behind; he saw a homeless man examining it as the train pulled away. Manni is meeting his boss in 20 minutes and will be killed unless he has the money. He is about to rob a nearby supermarket to replace the funds. Lola implores Manni to wait for her and decides to ask her father, a bank manager, for help.

Lola hangs up and runs down the staircase of her apartment building past a man with a dog. At the bank, her father is having a conversation with his mistress, who informs him that she is pregnant. When Lola arrives, her conversation with her father turns into an argument. He tells her that he is leaving her mother and that Lola is not his biological daughter. Lola runs to meet Manni, but arrives too late and sees him enter the supermarket with a gun. She helps him rob the supermarket of 100,000 marks, but on leaving, they find it surrounded by police. Surrendering, Manni throws the money bag into the air, which startles a police officer who accidentally shoots Lola dead.

Events restart from the moment Lola leaves the house. This time, she trips over the man with the dog and now runs with a limp, so her arrival at the bank is delayed, allowing her father's mistress to add that Lola's father is not the father of her unborn child. A furious Lola overhears the conversation, grabs a security guard's gun, holds her father hostage, and robs the bank of 100,000 marks. When police mistake her for a bystander, she is able to leave and meet with Manni in time, but he is run over and killed by a speeding ambulance that Lola had distracted moments earlier.

Events restart once more. This time, Lola leaps over the man and his dog, arriving at the bank earlier but not triggering an auto accident as she did the first two times. Consequently, her father's colleague arrives before her and takes her father away from the office. Lola now wanders aimlessly before entering a casino, where she hands over all the cash she has and plays roulette with a single 100-mark chip. She bets it on the number 20, which wins. Roulette pays 35 to 1, so she wins 3,500 more marks, which she immediately adds to her original chip on 20. She now makes a deafening scream, causing 20 to come up again. She leaves with a bag containing 129,600 marks, and runs to where Manni will be meeting his boss. Meanwhile, Manni spots the homeless man from the subway passing by on a bicycle with the money bag. Manni steals back the bag at gunpoint, giving the man his gun in exchange. Lola arrives to witness Manni handing off the money to his boss. Manni joins Lola, who is dishevelled and perspiring. As they walk along, Manni casually asks her what is in her bag.



The film touches on themes such as free will vs. determinism, the role of chance in people's destiny, and obscure cause-effect relationships. Through brief flash-forward sequences of still images, Lola's fleeting interactions with bystanders are revealed to have surprising and drastic effects on their future lives, serving as concise illustrations of chaos theory's butterfly effect, in which minor, seemingly inconsequential variations in any interaction can blossom into much wider results than is often recognized. The film's exploration of the relationship between chance and conscious intention comes to the foreground in the casino scene, where Lola appears to defy the laws of chance through sheer force of will, improbably making the roulette ball land on her winning number with the help of a glass-shattering scream.[6][7]

The thematic exploration of free will vs. determinism is made clear from the start. In the film's brief prologue, an unseen narrator asks a series of rhetorical questions that prime the audience to view the film through a metaphysical lens touching on traditional philosophical questions involving determinism vs. philosophic libertarianism, as well as epistemology. The theme is reinforced through the repeated appearance of a blind woman who briefly interacts with Manni in each alternative reality, and seems to have supernatural understandings of both the present and potential futures in those realities. The film ultimately seems to favor a compatibilist philosophical view to the free will question as evidenced by the casino scene and by the final telephone booth scene in which the blind woman redirects Manni's attention to a passerby, which enables him to make an important choice near the film's climax.[8]

Several moments in the film allude to a supernatural awareness of the characters. For example, in the first reality, Manni shows a nervous Lola how to use a gun by removing the safety, while in the second timeline she removes the safety as though she remembers what to do. This suggests that she might have the memory of the events depicted in the previous timeline. Also, the bank's guard says to Lola "you finally came" in the third timeline, as if he remembered Lola's appearances in the previous two.[9][10]

Allusions to earlier filmsEdit

The film features two allusions to Alfred Hitchcock's film Vertigo. Like that film, it features recurring images of spirals, such as the Spirale bar behind Manni's phone box and the spiral staircase down which Lola runs. In addition, the painting on the back wall of the casino of a woman's head seen from behind is based on a shot in Vertigo: Tykwer disliked the empty space on the wall behind the roulette table and commissioned production designer Alexander Manasse to paint a picture of Kim Novak as she appeared in Vertigo. Manasse could not remember what she looked like in the film; therefore, he decided to paint the famous shot of the back of her head. The painting took fifteen minutes to complete.[11] The bed sheets in the red scenes also feature spiral designs which add to the allusion.[12]



The soundtrack of the film, by Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil, includes numerous musical quotations of the sustained string chords of The Unanswered Question, an early 20th-century chamber ensemble work by American composer Charles Ives. In the original work, the chords are meant to represent "the Silences of the Druids—who Know, See and Hear Nothing."

The techno soundtrack established dialectical relation between motives of the movie: Rhythm, Repetition, and Interval among various spatio-temporal logics. This produces unification of contradictions like Time and Space or The cyclical and the linear.[13]

Filming locationsEdit

A supermarket in Berlin-Charlottenburg, which served as the filming location for Manni's and Lola's robbery.

Run Lola Run was filmed in and around Berlin, Germany.[14]


Critical receptionEdit

As of February 2020, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 93% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 82 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "More fun than a barrel of Jean-Paul Sartre, pic's energy riffs on an engaging love story and really human performances while offering a series of what-ifs and a blood-stirring soundtrack."[15] On Metacritic, the film has an average score of 77 out of 100, based on 29 reviews, stating the film as having "generally favourable reviews".[16]

In contrasting reviews, Film Threat's Chris Gore said of the film, "[It] delivers everything great foreign films should—action, sex, compelling characters, clever filmmaking, it's unpretentious (a requirement for me) and it has a story you can follow without having to read those annoying subtitles. I can't rave about this film enough—this is passionate filmmaking at its best. One of the best foreign films, heck, one of the best films I have seen", while Jonathan Rosenbaum of The Chicago Reader stated, "About as entertaining as a no-brainer can be—a lot more fun, for my money, than a cornball theme-park ride like Speed, and every bit as fast moving. But don't expect much of an aftertaste."[17][18]


The film was nominated for dozens of awards, including the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language. It won several, including the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics, the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Best Film at the Seattle International Film Festival, and seven separate awards at the German Film Awards. Lola Rennt was ranked number 86 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010. It was also nominated for the Golden Lion at the 55th Venice Film Festival,[3] and a European Film Award in 1998.[19]

Run Lola Run was selected as the German entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 71st Academy Awards, but not ultimately nominated.[4][5]

Home mediaEdit

The film was released on DVD on 21 December 1999 and on Blu-ray on 19 February 2008.


The music video for "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi, released in 2000, was inspired by the film.[20] The music video for "Ocean Avenue" by Yellowcard is also seen by some to have been inspired by the film, as is the opening scene of Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode "Beneath You", where a pink haired girl is seen running through a German Street to techno music reminiscent of the movie.[21]

The film was the initial inspiration for the three-day cycle in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a video game also released in 2000.[22] In animated series, The Simpsons parodies Run Lola Run in 2001's "Trilogy of Error"[23] and Phineas and Ferb features a 2011 episode titled "Run, Candace, Run."[24] The series SMILF includes a 2017 episode ("Run, Bridgette, Run or Forty-Eight Burnt Cupcakes & Graveyard Rum") which references the film.[25] The music video for "Walk Me to the Bridge" by Manic Street Preachers directly references the movie.[original research?]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Run Lola Run (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 21 June 1999. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Run Lola Run". The Numbers. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b "55th Venice Film Festival 1998 - FilmAffinity". FilmAffinity. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  5. ^ a b "45 Countries Submit Films for Oscar Consideration". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 19 November 1998. Archived from the original on 19 February 1999. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  6. ^ Hubber, Duncan (13 May 2010). "Run Lola Run (film essay)". Slam Dunk Studios. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  7. ^ Saporito, Jeff (8 June 2015). "How does "Run Lola Run" demonstrate chaos theory's butterfly effect?". Screen Prism. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  8. ^ Ganesan, Prasanna. "Chance, chaos and coincidence". Stanford University. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  9. ^ "Run Lola Run". Review Essays. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  10. ^ Milton, Joshua (6 December 2012). "Summary — Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt)". Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  11. ^ Tom Tykwer, commentary on the DVD edition of the film.
  12. ^ Lewy, Jessica (4 February 2015). "Run Lola Run and Vertigo". Lafayette College. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  13. ^ Puzzle films: complex storytelling in contemporary cinema, by Warren Buckland, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, pages 137–138
  14. ^ Flippo, Hyde. "Run Lola Run Berlin Locations, Photos". German language. Dotdash. Archived from the original on 2 December 2002. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Run Lola Run". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  16. ^ "Run Lola Run (1999): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  17. ^ Gore, Chris (28 June 1999). "RUN LOLA RUN". Film Threat. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  18. ^ "Run Lola Run: Capsule by Jonathan Rosenbaum". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  19. ^ "European Film Academy : 1998". (in German). Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  20. ^ Alex Gernandt: Bon Jovi, 2. edition, Goldmann, München 2001, ISBN 3-442-42851-3, p 261
  21. ^ Rouner, Jeff (11 November 2011). "Yellowcard Talks Lineup Changes, Growing As A Band, And Going Acoustic". Houston Press. Retrieved 9 May 2018. Yellowcard's, "Ocean Avenue" was the final good video we saw on the channel. We were intrigued by what we were pretty sure was an homage to Run Lola Run, and that of course is awesome.
  22. ^ Lamoreux, Ben (12 November 2014). "Aonuma Reveals the Inspiration for Majora's Mask". Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  23. ^ Canning, Robert (11 August 2008). "The Simpsons Flashback: "Trilogy of Error" Review". IGN. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  24. ^ "Run, Candace, Run/Last Train to Bustville". IMDb. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  25. ^ "Run, Bridgette, Run or Forty-Eight Burnt Cupcakes & Graveyard Rum". IMDb. Retrieved 13 February 2018.

External linksEdit