25 Years Later, Run Lola Run Returns to Movie Theaters

Director Tom Tykwer looks back on his wildly inventive cinematic achievement

Director Tom Tykwer's exhilarating, suspenseful Run Lola Run really should be experienced in a movie theater. Now, you'll have your chance, as Sony Pictures Classics just reissued a stunning 4K restoration in cinemas across the U.S. to celebrate the indie's 25th anniversary.

The experimental film set in Berlin put the German filmmaker on the map in the late '90s when it become an arthouse hit. Run Lola Run was soon acknowledged in the wider world of early-aughts pop culture, when The Simpsons spoofed the flick and Natalie Portman famously rocked a red Lola wig for a Halloween party.

Franka Potente is the actress who played Lola in the film, dying her locks and lighting up the screen as the feminist action hero with a punk-rock attitude. As the film opens, she receives a panicked call from her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), a low-level drug dealer, who left a bag containing 100,000 Deutsche Marks on the subway.

And Manni's dead if his gangster boss doesn't receive that money in 20 minutes. With the clock ticking, Lola sets off across Berlin.

Tykwer, who wrote the scenario, depicts Lola's 20-minute quest to collect the cash and save her boyfriend three separate times—each version playing out differently, depending on her decisions.

Visually, the film incorporates everything from hand-held camerawork to animation; and Tykwer, along with Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil, created a propulsive techno score.

Tykwer would go on to direct films such as Perfume: The Story of Murderer, Cloud Atlas and the forthcoming The Light. In television, he is known for directing episodes of the TV series Sense8 and developing the European hit Babylon Berlin.

Here, he reflects on the making of Run Lola Run.

As you were color grading for the 4K version, and as you have been promoting the re-release, what does it feel like to revisit this project in such a major way?

It's just wonderful. I usually do not look back much to my films from the past, but revisiting Lola has been incredibly joyful. The movie has aged pretty well and is still a valid portrait of Berlin, my city.

It was pretty much unheard of at the time to see an action film with a female lead. What inspired you to put a female hero in the main role?

More fun, more complexity, more emotions, more intelligence, more everything.

In interviews, you give Franka Potente credit for carrying the film, for making it a success. How did you find her, and why was she the person to play Lola?

Whatever I did with all the wild style acrobatics, it would have all been useless without Franka's enormous screen presence. She made that fun idea of a geek [video]game character a person you could relate to. She gave it three dimensions. She helped a good idea [get] out of my head and brought it to life. 

You have worked with editor Mathilde Bonnefoy on a number of films. Can you tell me what she brought to Run Lola Run, your first collaboration?

Mathilde is another superwoman. When we met for Lola, she was young, incredibly skilled at the Avid [editing system]—it was my first experience cutting digitally—and full of ideas and musical wisdom. Shaping this film with her was like a non-stop editing -oom party.

You were able to make Lola for a couple of million dollars. Is it possible to make a low-budget feature in Berlin now?

It's harder if you want it to be equally cinematic. But there's always a way to put it together if you really want to make a film, if it's the thing you'd kill to see on a big screen. Because of the digital age and the tools today, you can do more for less.

Did you consider leaving Berlin for Hollywood?

I've had some great dances marrying the systems [between] Europe and the U.S. We collaborated greatly on Perfume: The Story of A Murderer, Cloud Atlas, A Hologram for the King. I even made a studio picture with Sony International, which was a blast for me in every sense. But leaving Berlin? Not an option.

Advertise With Us

Featured Clio Award Winner



The best in creativity delivered to your inbox every morning.