Run Lola Run
House Church Central Goes to the Movies

Sony Pictures Classics, Bavaria Film International, X-Filme Creative Pool. Produced by Stefan Arndt. Written and directed by Tom Tykwer. (In German with English sub-titles).

Chaos Theory, a fairly recent observation of the scientific community is the fact that minute differences in "initial conditions" can completely change the outcome of an experiment if the experiment is allowed to run long enough. Run Lola Run, demonstrates this by having its characters run through a fairly simple scenario three times, each modified ever so slightly by an incident on a stairway that slightly delays Lola (Franka Potente) for different amounts of time. That incident is portrayed in the animated sequence that begins each cycle. We not only see that the outcome of each cycle is greatly different each time, but that the lives of characters that Lola passes along the way also changes profoundly. Tykwer cleverly reveals this by inserting a rapid sequence of still photographs that give five-second biographies of these secondary characters each time.

The intense running of Lola, along with the rhythmic music and clever editing of the film, tends to wind the viewer up like a spring. Fortunately, the film provides occasional relief points where the action slows and the music stops. Two "red scenes" separate the three cycles, each giving Lola and her boy friend (Moritz Bleibtreu) appropriate opportunities to reflect on their relationship.

This would be a completely secular treatment of a scientific concept were it not for a curious "prayer" in the third cycle. The first two cycles, which lack the prayer, both have very unsatisfactory conclusions. But, in the third cycle, all of the tensions in the plot are resolved and the two protagonists end up 100,000 marks richer. The theology of this "prayer" may be defective on many levels, but it takes place at a significant point in the film. Denied the access to her father that she had during the first two cycles, Lola realizes that she has run out of options and must seek extraordinary help.

The film is introduced by two citations, one by T.S. Eliot ("We will not cease from our exploring and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started") and another expressing the same idea by the popular German soccer coach S. Herberger ("After the game is before the game"). While these might be contemporary expressions of Ecclesiastes 1:4-11, they are the very antithesis of the Run Lola Run premise which finds the two characters ending their "game" very differently than they started it in each of the three cycles. The full-length commentary by director Tykwer and actress Potente on the DVD is fascinating, but sheds little light on the application of these to the film.

The original music in Run Lola Run, by Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil, is impressive. It propels the film along, sometimes loudly and sometimes merely as a heartbeat. In fact, the tension builds so intensely as Lola runs, runs, and runs that we can only be thankful that the film has a relatively short running time. When it comes to a halt, however, it invites a long discussion. An audio-visual experience to be remembered, this film is a delight.

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