Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt) is a Tom Tykwer film, produced in 1998 and released in the USA in 1999. Tykwer's film career is fascinating, yet, this post is concerned with only one of his earlier films, namely Run Lola Run. In doing this film, Tykwer was director, screenplay writer and composer. Needless to emphasis, he had a considerable degree of artistic freedom in relation to this project. A probable line of inquiry is perhaps to discover how the film relates to Tykwer as an artist, director, and generally as a thinker (he studied philosophy). His relation to the film can certainly propel a lot of insightful discussion, but is not the subject of this post. Instead, these following questions are the starting point: What is the role of pain, as an emotion, in this film? Is pain related to passivity in Run Lola Run?
Manni, Lola's boyfriend, needs to find 100,000 DM in twenty minutes or else he might be killed. Lola is set on a run by a phone call at 11:40. She has till noon to find the money and deliver it to Manni. Lola has of course, as anybody who has watched the film would know, a striking appearance and an unusual physique. Her hair is flaming bright red, she is in army boots for most of the film, and although she is constantly running, rarely looks tired. Lola can also shatter glass with her scream, this is her most prominent superhuman physical quality. As she runs, the film reveals the anxieties and pains involved in running for survival. In fact, the pains caused by this running. It is significant to ask why Lola runs, as opposed to ride a motorbike for example (although the plot gives reasons for this, one can question the filmmakers decision).
On the surface level, Lola runs to save Manni's life. However, one can also argue that it is, to a significant extent, her own life that she's attempting to salvage. When Lola is dying in the very first chain of events, she remembers when she had told Manni that it is possible she would decide soon about their relationship—in other words, whether they would continue together or not. When she's about to die, she says "but I don't." The wish to have acted differently in the past, to have said something else, to have done something nicer to another human being, if allowed to dominate one's existence, becomes a life defeating force. The past, time in general, is oppressive in this sense—it is beyond our reach in its entirety. Lola might be attempting to salvage her own existence by standing up against the most oppressive force—time. Lola is in a race against the clock.
This is an avant-garde film thus one cannot say it is concerned with a realistic representation.To put it differently, it is hard to claim that Run Lola Run belongs to realism (as a school of representation), but it has a relation to reality. It might be said to re-presentation that, which to its filmmaker, lies at the heart of human existence. Run Lola Run features time, causality, a version of the infinite-recurrence in the Nietzscheian sense, and suffering. This last feature is perhaps the most important one if a claim about the relation of Run Lola Run to reality can ever be grounded. Just refer to, for example, the scene when the security guard tells Lola that all people have bad day as an attempt to comfort her. The expression on her face reveals a lot. At this point in the film she has just discovered that her father is not her biological father. Any human being put in this position, while on a time-bomb so to speak, could be reasonably assumed to have felt pain. He, on top of all this, refused to help her calling her a freak. Lola had to continue running though. The physical act of running eventually becomes a metaphor for pain and even suffering.
This is markedly a new attitude to past philosophical interpretations of pain. Pain has often been associated with passivity—like for example when Lola receives the news about her real father—but in making running a metaphor for it, pain no longer signifies passivity. The consequences of this shift in perspective might be very profound. Because it takes-on complex questions about human existence, this film is multi-layered. It would not be surprising, as critics have often done in the past, to pose questions about reality, the construction of it, and the reality of this construction in relation to the film Run Lola Run. All this have been very meaningful lines of investigation.
One more idea can be added to the present thread. In a NYT article about Tom Tykwer, published in 2011, the author Dennis Lim states that Tykwer has previously emphasized the "value of distraction" in his work. Distraction implies a challenge to human perception. Run Lola Run certainly causes an adrenaline rush, mostly because the film over-stimulates the sense: Lola with pounding boots, the images saturated with colors, Lola's flaming hair, and shattering scream. Pain and suffering as they bring us closer to our bodies and the physical, material, realm allow us to see differently. So does the over-stimulation of the senses in this film. The relation between the pain and suffering put on the screen, and their mode of representation in this avant-garde film allow for a claim like this one. When in pain we might not be as passive as once assumed because we can use pain to reinvent our world. Lola uses suffering as a motivation to run, and her running cases different chains of events--the world order thus changes.