Why Does “Run Lola Run” Incorporate Animated Sequences?


Run Lola Run (1998) employs an animated sequence at the start of each of Lola’s (Franka Potente) runs. A few traditional film shots loop at the origination of each sequence, then the camera swings across a living room and into a television set to reveal an animated Lola running down the stairs of her apartment. The first of her minor decisions that facilitate each run’s chain of events is made during the animated segments when she decides how to handle an angry dog in the staircase. After the animation, she emerges outside in the “real world,” ready to run.

Run Lola Run is seen by many as a video game-style representation of life, wherein Lola is able to keep redoing a fatal situation until she gets the outcome she wants. The animated sequence serves that concept, as its video game-ish nature kicks off each of her attempts. For others, it’s merely an artistic choice that either gels well or is completely out of place. The animation is a point of contention for some viewers who feel it doesn’t add anything to the film’s structure and just looks weird.

Director Tom Tykwer addresses the reason behind the decision to use animated sequences. On his own website, he says “When we were thinking about how to make a film about the possibilities of life, it was quite clear to me that it would also have to be a film about the possibilities of cinema. That’s why there is black and white, colour, video, slow motion, time lapse and animation. It is also about the freedom of the medium. These days, filmmakers can juggle with every medium because nothing is isolated anymore. The times in which you could only listen to music on a record player, could only watch the news on television, borrow a book from the library or see a film in the cinema, are over. Through interactive media and the Internet, everything can now happen on a monitor, and it makes us experience the world in another way, and that can be shown in film. The animation is a maximised way of showing that anything goes. It is only the imagination which sets the boundaries. Structurally speaking, the animation in the film is always the starting point for all domino principle type of changes in the causal chain.”

To Tykwer, the animation wasn’t so much representative of the film’s grander themes, but a piece of the aesthetic. It’s an experimental film, so he wanted to experiment with as many film construction methods as possible - the “kitchen sink” technique. However, that in itself is somewhat thematic on Run Lola Run’s grander scale, as the film is all about the power of choice and consequence. Lola is a caricature of hyperactivity, with her red hair and her crazy screaming. The cartoons are just one more way of showing that.