Monday, April 06, 2009

World Movie Series - 14 - Lola Rennt

Everyday we undergo the same mundane life. Each day, we do the same actions we did the previous day, and life thus moves like a boring drama. For most of us, there is nothing exiting or interesting in life. What will happen if something important suddenly occurs, which might change our life forever? How will we face it? How will it be, if there are more possibilities and consequences for the same incident? There is always the question of ‘What if’ in every incident occurring in our lives. What will happen if we get to see all the possibilities for a single incident happening?

Run Lola Run is a wonderful attempt of presenting all the three possibilities for a same incident, in a girl’s life.

The movie begins in Berlin when Lola receives a phone call from her boyfriend Manni, who is working under the local Don Ronnie. Manni’s assignment is to bring 100,000 deutchemarks (German currency) after selling some diamonds. Manni finishes the deal, but Lola fails to pick him up after the deal, as her bike gets stolen on the morning. So, Manni takes the subway instead, and when he sees a few police officers, panics, and in the hurry, leaves the money bag in the train itself. A vagabond picks up the bag.

Now, Manni’s predicament is that he got to deliver the 100,000 deutshemarks to the local Don, Ronnie within 20 minutes, which is the deadline. If he fails, he will get killed. He calls Lola in such a situation. He shouts at her that he will rob a near-by departmental store for money. Lola pleads him to be patient and to wait for some time as she will bring him the money. She starts thinking about whom will help her with the money, and decides to go to her wealthy father.

The first of the three possibilities begins here.

Lola is thundering down the steps of her apartment, and she sees a dog downstairs. It snarls at her, making her to run faster. Since she doesn’t have any vehicle and the time is closing on her, she runs to her father’s bank to get the amount. While running, she diverts the attention of a man who has just started his car, and he jams his car with a BMW. She also passes the vagabond who has taken Manni’s money. A person tries to sell his bicycle to Lola as she is running, and she refuses.

Lola reaches her father’s bank. The father declines to give money. He further says that he is gonna marry another woman, as Lola and her mother doesn’t respect him. He also adds that he is not the real father of Lola. Saying this, he asks the security to take Lola away. Lola rushes to Manni, as there is very little time left. As she is running, she passes an ambulance which stops at some workers carrying a big piece of glass.

Lola arrives a few seconds late, and witnesses Manni entering the departmental store with his gun. Lola decides to help Manni, and she assists him in robbing. They both escape, but then are cornered by police officials. While Manni throws the money bag at the police, a tense policeman shoots Lola in her chest. While Lola is dying, we see a flashback where she is asking Manni about the kind of love he has towards Lola. Manni replies it’s genuine, but Lola remains skeptical. The first story ends.

The second possibility begins when Lola decides not to die in vein, after all her struggles. So she says ‘STOP’. At this point, the film again starts from where Lola begins to run. This time, the man with the dog at the stairs trips her down, and she starts limping a bit. Again, she once more diverts the attention of the man starting his car, who jams his car another time on the BMW. Likewise, she crosses the vagabond with Manni’s money and the bicycle seller for a second time. She goes to her father, but because of the limp, arrives a few seconds late to the bank, when she overhears a woman talking to her father that she is pregnant by someone else. An exasperated Lola robs the bank, runs out and she tries to stop the ambulance for a ride, but being diverted by her, the ambulance crashes on the piece of glass the workers were carrying. It stops there. Lola runs to Manni, and while he is about to cross the road, gets rundown by the same ambulance. After he dies, we see another flashback sequence where Manni questions Lola about the kind of love she has towards him.

The third possibility begins now. We see a faster Lola who jumps across the barking dog and growling back at it, scaring the dog. The person starting the car succeeds in his attempt, and the BMW passes by. Lola recognizes the person as her father’s colleague, and since he was able to start his car, he goes to the bank and picks up her father. As a result, Lola loses track of her father when she reaches the bank. Without knowing what to do, she keeps running. Her father, who is riding the car with his friend, gets involved in a deathly car crash, the driver distracted by the vagabond riding a cycle which he bought from the bicycle seller from the previous two stories.

Lola goes to a casino, plays roulette betting on the number ‘20’ (which symbolizes the twenty minutes she has to run) and wins a lot of money (deutshemarks 127,000). She rushes out, hides in the same ambulance which stops at the workers carrying the piece of glass. Inside, she finds the security of her father’s bank, who has suffered a heart attack. She holds his hand, and after some time, his heart beat returns to normal.

In the meantime, Manni borrows a phone card from a blind woman to call Lola. While returning the card, he accidentally catches sight of the vagabond with the money, and he chases him, gets his money back. He then goes to deliver the money back to his boss, and when Lola arrives, she sees Manni shaking the boss’s hands. Manni comes to Lola and asks what she carries in the bag in her hand. The film ends.

Run Lola Run is a fantastic attempt of a very different concept. The screenplay is amazingly handled, and the movie is a treat to watch. From Wikipedia, I learned that this concept has been inspired from the Polish director Krzystof Kieslowski, who handled the same theme in his previous movies. The director Tom Tykwer directed ‘Heaven’, which Kieslowski wanted to direct, and couldn’t do so as he died before the film.

The German film was released in 1998 and won many awards including the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Best Film at the Seattle International Film Festival, and seven separate wins at the German Film Awards (thanks to Wiki). This film contains about 1581 transitions (edits, dissolves, fades, wipes, etc) in 71 minutes of action (i.e. excluding the credits, and pre-credits sequence). This equates to an Average Shot Length of about 2.7 seconds. Interestingly, the editing is relatively slower towards the end of the film. For most contemporary films, the opposite is the norm. Lola screams for twenty seconds in the Roulette scene, she also bets to the number twenty, the only bills she had were twenties, the first story lasts twenty minutes and twenty minutes was also the time she had to get the money. (Thanks to IMDB).

See Run Lola Run and get carried away in the excitement it offers.

See the trailer here.


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