Tom Tykwer: 'It's sheer joy' how 'Run Lola Run' influenced cinema

Franka Potente stars in "Run Lola Run." Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
1 of 5 | Franka Potente stars in "Run Lola Run." Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

LOS ANGELES, June 5 (UPI) -- Director Tom Tykwer and actor Franka Potente said they have enjoyed seeing the influence of their film Run Lola Run in other movies since its 1999 release. The film returns to theaters Friday in a 4K restoration.

"It's sheer joy," Tykwer told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "I feel like sometimes we're in the mix with hundreds of other things that come together."


In the film, Lola (Potente) has 20 minutes to come up with enough money to get her boyfriend, Manni (Moritz Bliebtreu), out of debt with a gangster. The film portrays three attempts by Lola to find a solution on foot.

Every time she is unsuccessful, the film rewinds to the beginning and Lola tries again. The film's presentation of three different realities qualifies as an early depiction of the multiverse, where infinite universes exist simultaneously.


"We tapped into a concept that wasn't new, but it was maybe new at the time to visualize it," Potente said. "I wouldn't claim that we invented it."

Recent films, such as the Oscar-winner Everything Everywhere All at Once, the animated Spider-Man films and live-action Marvel films explore even more than three alternate universes.

Tykwer said building off past influences, whether they include Run Lola Run or not, inevitably creates something new and original.

"Everything Everywhere is like a completely new thing, also," he said. "Though you can see all the references, they're beautiful."

Tykwer said when he wrote and directed Run Lola Run, he also was influenced by films that came before him. He cited Krzysztof Kieslowski's 1987 Blind Chance, which also shows three possible outcomes of a single incident, as an influence.

Tonally, Tywker said he also was inspired by French New Wave films like Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless, which is about criminals who make their escape in Paris, but the focus is on their dialogue and relationship.

Likewise, Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover appealed to Tykwer more for its aesthetics than story.

"The plot is one thing, but the thing that drags you in is something else," he said. "The plot can also be a burden, in our opinion."


Run Lola Run does have a simple plot about Manni's dilemma with the gangsters and Lola's ingenuity to rescue him. In different scenarios, Lola asks her father for help, tries to rob a bank and gambles in a casino.

"Of course, we have a proper plot in our film, but it's also pretty absurd," Tykwer said. "If you watch Lola for the plot, go elsewhere."

To capture the intensity of Lola running, Potente recalled many different techniques Tykwer employed from Steadicam equipment to mobile cameras following behind her.

Potente said she had to be careful not to outrun the cameras, and to land on predetermined marks on the location.

"I had to slow down," she said. "I had to keep a certain pace and distance to the camera or we couldn't use it."

Tykwer also had many specific decisions made before filming, including animated sequences of Lola running that had to be commissioned before filming. Still, he said the success of Run Lola Run was in allowing Potente to improvise on location when possible.

"There was so much instinctive force that she brought into it that I had hoped for," Tykwer said. "I didn't know how she would do it."​


The influence of Run Lola Run also extended to the lead character's look. Lola sports bright red hair, and Potente said she learned other Hollywood stars had dressed up as Lola for Halloween.

"Oh, my God, I remember meeting Natalie Portman and she told me she went as Lola," Potente said. "I was like, 'You did?' That is so bizarre. I don't even know what to say.'"

Looking back on that iconic hairstyle also reminded Potente of the ordeal of maintaining it. She said she could not wash her hair during the three weeks of filming.

"It was frizzy, as well," she said. "It was pretty dry, anyway."

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