Run Lola Run

Essay from 9/1/17

Intense and fast-paced, Run Lola Run, directed by Tom Tykwer, is a mind-bending German thriller which follows three possible outcomes of Lola’s attempt to save her boyfriend Manni. In each narrative, the smallest decisions have huge life or death consequences. Despite being under 90 minutes, the film gives a high level of depth to characters and story through a variety of methods including colour and camera movement but particularly through precise editing to control pacing and motion. This, along with the idea of a non-linear narrative, has inspired me and had a strong influence on my recent short film Either Way.
During the running sequences, staccato cuts between long shots and close ups of Lola show her speed and movement. These are combined with non-diegetic sounds for extra effect, maintaining the film’s fast pace and showing Lola’s desperation. Similar sudden cuts are used during the conversations between Lola and Manni which divide the three narratives. Although there is little action, a sense of tension is maintained by frequent changes of image.
Throughout the film, we see glimpses of the lives of the people Lola meets. These still images are shown for a fraction of a second and are combined with the sound of a camera to create a snapshot effect. These strobe-like stills show how Lola’s actions change the lives of seemingly unimportant bystanders while not underestimating the audience’s ability to quickly decode a huge amount of information. A similar technique is used to show Lola’s desperation when she is trying to think of people who could help her.
This idea of a photograph capturing a single moment reflects the wider theme of time and Lola’s race against the clock. Editing is also used to manipulate perceptions of time, particularly during the opening and at the final movement of the clock hands before Manni’s time is up. This technique creates tension, adds an edge of surrealism and is used to allow faster action and more intense editing.
The film’s experimental nature allows for a wide range of creative editing techniques which add to its stylised and somewhat surreal feel. It has shown me that films don’t have to follow a set of rules and that even complex and unusual ideas can be shown in an understandable way. This use of stylistic choices and fine control of pacing clearly show the potential of film as a storytelling medium.

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