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Run Lola Run

Last night was my first time seeing Run Lola Run, and I really liked it.  After hearing that it somehow resembled or related to videogames, I was apprehensive—it doesn’t get much more boring than watching someone else play a videogame, so I was not looking forward to a film that mimicked that experience.  Luckily my blind assumptions turned out to be way off.

The most striking thing about Run Lola Run is how satisfying the story is, even though it operates within this game-like structure of “replaying” a period of time in a consistent space.  In large part, I attribute this to its traditional structure.  I think four acts work best for breaking it down—the opening segment (I guess you could call that a prologue…) and initial phone call set up the problem, Lola’s first run through the story world is complicating action as we get a sense of the obstacles to solving this problem, the second time through has more development as the film shows us how things can change based on Lola’s action, and the last try includes a resolution of the problem that leaves Lola and Manni better off than they were at the beginning.  The happy ending is especially satisfying after seeing the same situation end badly every other time.

The spatial treatment of Run Lola Run is the most significant video game parallel I noticed when watching the movie.  All of the sequences that showed Lola running, particularly the ones shot from her side, reminded me of classic scroll games like Jenkins describes—think Mario Brothers on gameboy.  As Lola repeatedly navigates the same space with a few different variations, the shot composition emphasizes the consistency of the world.  Lola always runs around the same corner in a shot framed the same way, by the same buildings, and among the same characters—the people become elements of the landscape to navigate rather than characters with which to interact.  The third time through the world the spatial and compositional rules set up before are slightly more flexible, with Manni chasing the bum and Lola riding in the ambulance, but there is enough similarity to make it a satisfying variation on a theme.

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