Aaron Smith’s Response Journal


Run Lola Run as a Videogame

I really enjoyed Run Lola Run last night. It incorporated everything I like about movies with everything I like about games. On one level, I was able to “passively” (in the sense that I didn’t have a direct influence on the film) experience action, suspense, and excitement. But on another level, I felt as though I was watching someone else play a game, as if Lola were Lara Croft or something. This works well with the Soccer analogy at the beginning of the film. We are spectators of this game, not active participants in it. In this regard, I’d like to quickly point out just a few of the ways that Run Lola Run borrows from the conventions of videogames:

1.) Navigation of a space. This film was not based off compelling character development. Rather, it seemed to be driven by exploring an urban area of Germany. Heavy camera movement sometimes followed random bystanders in the street before returning to Lola. We were also first introduced to Lola and Manni by diving into what looks like Google Maps, reinforcing this theme.
2.) Cause and Effect logic. Whether Lola interacts with people on the street or not seems to have an effect on their overall life. Sometimes the future is bright, other times it is fatal, but it did seem to be loosely caused by Lola’s actions. Every action has a implicit or explicit consequence.
3.) Sensory Overload. I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride with the various types of camera styles, techno music, and fast paced edits. Some shots were less than a second long.
4.) Replayability. When Lola doesn’t like a particular ending (i.e. she dies), she decides to restart the game. The viewer gets to replay the story along with her too. I found myself guessing how different events would result in different consequences.
5.) Mastery. Lola is able to adjust to dangers and obstacles based on past experience. For example, she remembers how to turn off the safety on her gun from the scenario before. Thus, she gets better at navigating the space the more time she “plays.”
6.) Establishment of Rules and Goals. From very early on, we know the mission is to get 100,000$ and we know we only have 20 minutes to accomplish it. Interestingly, whenever Lola or Manni broke the law (more or less), one of them died. Just like in a game, if you don’t follow the rules, you lose. When Lola wins $100,000 off gambling on a ridiculous bet however, it’s almost as if she was rewarded for playing by the rules (or following the laws).

These are just a few of the elements that make Run Lola Run game-like. (There could also be analogies to levels and cut scenes) But the film understands the limits of cinema and does not try to overstep its boundaries by completely stepping into the game world. The filmmakers could have put a health bar above Lola and Manni, included a numeric score, or even a ‘game over’ message. However, at its core, Run Lola Run is still a movie with a beginning, middle, and end. It is a narrative with the interactivity of a videogame.

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