Lola Rennt

(Run Lola Run)

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital City
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Tom Tykwer (Director) and Franka Potente (Actor)
Running Time 76:54 minutes Other Extras Biographies - Cast and Crew
Music Video - Believe (Franka Potente)
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Tom Tykwer
Sony Pictures Classics 
Columbia TriStar
Starring Franka Potente
Moritz Bleibtreu
Herbert Knaup
Nina Petri
Joachim Krol
Armin Rohde
Heind Ferch
Suzanne von Borsody
Sebastian Schipper
Case Transparent Brackley
RRP $39.95 Music Tom Tykwer
Johnny Klimek
Reinhold Heil

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or
After Credits

Plot Synopsis

    When you look at the plethora of award nominations that this film garnered during the period from 1998 through to 2000, one is left somewhat curious about this film. After all, whilst none of the nominations were really mainstream awards, the diversity and consistency of the award nominations has to say something about the broad appeal of this film. But, it was possibly the winning of the Audience Award for World Cinema at the famed Sundance Film Festival that really catapulted this film into the public eye. Not that you would be blamed if you missed it on its theatrical release, as it seemed to come and go quite quickly. So those of you, like me, who have a low tolerance to hype, are starting to wonder about the film right now, correct? Is it as good as the "word" suggests, or is it another case of true hype where the reality is very different? Well, I am not going to hide the fact that this is certainly a film that is going to polarize opinion, as there simply cannot be any middle ground here: you either like it or loathe it. The voters on the Internet Movie Database clearly fall into the former category, since they have voted this solidly into the Top 250 films, currently resting at number 51.

    And yet, for a film that has been the subject of such critical acclaim, the story is exceedingly simple. Lola (Franka Potente) receives a telephone call from her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), who has made something of a monumental blunder. It would seem that he is acting as a runner for a person involved in somewhat illegal activities and has been entrusted with the task of delivering the sum of 100,000 marks to his boss after a transaction. The way the Australian peso is diminishing in value, a conversion is probably worthless but take my word for it, this is a fair chunk of money. Unfortunately, Manni panics when the police get onto the train he is travelling on, for no good reason, and quickly departs the scene. More unfortunately, he does so without taking his bag of money with him, said bag then being found by a street dweller. Based upon previous experiences with his boss, when purloining a carton of cigarettes from a shipment earned Manni a decent head butting, he is scared that unless he hands over the full 100,000 marks by the appointed time of midday (hey, the corn had to be sown somewhere), his boss will kill him. So he turns to Lola for help - the only problem being that the hand-over time is twenty minutes away. So how would you raise 100,000 marks in twenty minutes? That is what is facing Lola, and compounding this is the fact that Manni is convinced that the only way to raise the cash is to rob a store, which he will do in twenty minutes time if Lola does not front with the required money. The race is therefore on.

    What makes this film stand out from the crowd is the fact that Tom Tykwer has put together a really compelling solution to the situation, not once but three times, albeit with subtle variations in the best tradition of Sliding Doors. This has been done through the expediency of some good film techniques, some great camerawork, some nice editing, some brilliant music and a heck of a lot of originality. In other words, all those things that are so lacking from many, if not all films that come out of Hollywood. The originality is evident in little ways, but most notably in the way that, as Lola runs past some characters, Tom Tykwer takes time out to briefly explore those characters' future lives through still photographs. The originality is also evident in the way the film was shot: flashbacks are shot in black and white, current sequences not involving Lola or Manni are shot on video tape, whilst current sequences involving Lola and Manni are shot on 35mm film. Through the expediency of these devices, you have a visually different film that in itself captures a lot of interest. There are also the subtle differences between the three variations, to show how a few seconds either way can make a complete difference to an outcome. The originality extends to the way the film is so heavily dependent upon music, the pulsating beat of the Euro-style music providing the driving tempo to the film that becomes quite hypnotic at times. Add to that the fact that much of the vocalization in the music is actually from Franka Potente herself, which is another unusual touch of originality. Even the animation sequences, which could so easily have come over in a very lame way, seemed to add something positive to the film. To be honest, this is one of the most original films I have seen for a long time, at just about every level. Franka Potente does a sterling job in the very energetic lead role, and I would hate to think how much actual running was involved in putting the film together: it would certainly have to be one of the most physically tiring roles ever put onto the big screen, I would have thought. Judging by this performance she has some talent and it would not surprise me to see her pop up in a few more independent films in the near future, from both Europe and America. Moritz Bleibtreu is suitably scattered as the panicking boyfriend, although the role is obviously far less pivotal to the film. The supporting cast is a collection of relatively well-known actors in Germany, but virtually unknown outside of that country, cast in what really amounts to a bunch of cameos slightly askance from their normal roles.

    As far as I am concerned, this a terrific film that I enjoyed tremendously. It is quite an intoxicating mix, fuelled enormously by a driving, pulsating music track and demonstrating that originality is thankfully not dead in film, leastaways not apart from Hollywood. I have not seen anything of Tom Tykwer's work before, but on the evidence here he too may well be destined for stardom in independent film in a much broader market than hitherto. Run, Lola, Run is definitely not to everyone's taste, but I would strongly recommend that you give this film a view.

Transfer Quality


    Well, this was travelling along at a pace that was going to invoke the usual platitudes about the superb quality of Columbia TriStar's transfers. Then, the film got to the 55:08 mark and things went badly awry.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, as expected from this source - other distributors please take note.

    It has to be borne in mind that three distinctly different types of stock are used in this film, and that these have varying degrees of inherent problems that are well-and-truly manifested in the DVD format. Obviously, the transfer suffers from a wide degree of inconsistency in the visual aspect, as the video sequences are noticeably softer in definition and significantly more grainy than the 35mm film sequences. So, when these two juxtapose on a rapid basis, the inconsistency in the transfer is extremely noticeable. The film sequences are decidedly more detailed and much sharper, with the black and white sequences tending towards nice definition, albeit less sharp than the 35mm colour film. Overall, the definition would have to be considered better than average, with some of the film sequences positively shining in this regard. The transfer is generally very clear, although again the video sequences are distinctly lacking in comparison to the film sequences in this regard. Shadow detail is uniformly very good throughout. There does not appear to be any low level noise problems with the transfer. It should be pointed out that there are a couple of quite noticeable lapses in focus during the film.

    What more needs to be said about the colours on offer here than to say look at Lola's hair? The bright red colour has been handled superbly throughout with not a hint of colour bleed nor oversaturation at all. The black and white sequences are a little muted in the depth of the black but this is a deliberate choice and not a DVD problem. Even though it lacks significant depth to the blacks, the transfer is nonetheless a very nicely-handled effort with no murkiness to the grey tones at all. There is little to complain about from a colour perspective here at all.

    However, the actual transfer displays a couple of serious blemishes, although I do not rightly know what exactly to call the main one. It should be noted that the opening title sequences, as explained in the audio commentary, have been deliberately treated to have a scratchy look and this is not a problem with the transfer, which is more than can be said for the sequence between 55:08 and 55:18 which displays some very ugly artefacting that is quite off-putting indeed to the visual enjoyment of the film. This is a videotaped sequence so it may be that it is an inherent problem with the tape, but the effect is somewhat akin to watching the film through a foot of rippling water: it is almost like a gross example of shimmer across the entire frame of the film. Whatever it is, it seriously detracts from the film and I would hope that it is not a reflection of shoddy mastering, but rather may be a result of an inherent problem with the tape. Apart from that, there did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There did not appear to be many significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, apart from one rather noticeable instance of quite ugly aliasing around 60:50 that is completely out of character with the rest of the film. Despite plenty of opportunities, the film is almost free from aliasing otherwise. There is also one rather noticeable instance of what is almost a heat haze type effect at 61:52 which I am inclined to believe is an inherent problem in the original print and not a mastering problem. Film artefacts were not a significant problem at all during the film.

    For those to whom it is important, the English subtitles default to on for this film, which is only logical since the default soundtrack for the DVD is German.

Addendum 26-May-2000
    Several people have now confirmed that the video glitch in the film mentioned above was present when they saw the film at the theatre, so it would seem that this is definitely a problem with the film and not a DVD transfer problem.


    As far as the audio transfer goes, I have no problems whatsoever.

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD, the default German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. You know that you are being treated with respect when the distributor makes the foreign language, and native tongue of the film, the default and then also has the English subtitles defaulting to on. I listened to all three soundtracks, although I have to confess that I did little more than sample the English soundtrack as I much preferred the German soundtrack. Actually, I surprised myself by being able to understand quite a bit of the German soundtrack! No small feat for a foreign language challenged individual, but demonstrating that being able to order at McDonalds in Germany does indeed constitute the basis of a foreign language skill!

    The dialogue came up nice and clearly, and completely understandable in the transfer. There were no audio sync problems with the German soundtrack at all: obviously the English soundtrack suffers the usual problems with dubbed soundtracks.

    The musical score for the film is somewhat of a committee effort, but the result is an impulsive, propulsive effort that fires the film along at a quite frenetic pace at times. This really is an exquisite example of how music can be such an essential component of the total film. Take the music out of this film, and you quite simply do not have a film at all. Superb stuff indeed and there are plenty out there in the film industry who need to sit down and watch and listen to this film to see how it is all done.

    I guess the quality of the soundtrack is demonstrated by the fact that despite the almost three complete viewings of the film, the only comment that I committed to paper about the audio was that the English soundtrack is a disappointment. Now that does not mean to say that there is anything remiss with the soundtrack per se, but rather that the dub simply does not have the same life and fluidity of the native language. This, I would suspect, is the problem with any "dubbed" language track, but of course we English speakers rarely face the problem since most films on Region 4 DVDs are in our native language. The main difference between the German and the English soundtracks is that the German soundtrack is much more present in the overall sound picture, with a naturalness to the timbre and feel of the vocal track. The English soundtrack conversely sounds a little more recessed and has nowhere near the same natural resonance to the sound. General surround channel use is relatively limited, but this is a film that really requires little in the way of such use. Similarly, the bass channel does not get a huge workout here other than to provide some really nice resonance to the music and to provide emphasis to the odd occasion when it is required (such as the car crashes). The German soundtrack really is quite dazzling and magnificently balanced with a gloriously clear bloom to it: rarely have I heard a soundtrack with so much space in it to allow the sound to really blossom as it should. The German soundtrack would rank as one of the best I have heard.


    A decent enough package of extras here, although I would say that the Collector's Edition status may be pushing the issue just a little.


    Somewhat unusually, and rather perversely, the menu is 16x9 enhanced but otherwise lacks any distinctiveness - which really is fairly typical of most Columbia TriStar menus.

Theatrical Trailer

    A decent enough effort, most noted for the fact that it almost totally lacks dialogue - it's not often that you hear that in a trailer. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with what sounds like Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Unfortunately, whilst playing the disc, it locks out all controls and displays just a "title" message on the player display. Whilst no big deal, I do find it a little irksome to be unable to check the language, length and transfer rate details on discs that I have for review. Nice trailer though.

Biographies - Cast and Crew

    Very brief, even by Columbia TriStar standards and only covering the two main cast members and the director. Given the fact that most people outside of Germany would not know an awful lot about about any of the cast it is a shame that we were not treated to far more extensive efforts, a la Universal.

Music Video - Believe (Franka Potente)

    Yes indeed, the star of the film can also sing and provides a rather decent music video of what is actually a rather engaging song, in the best Euro-beat style (at least that is what I think it is, since the popular music industry lost me when they headed off to rap music years ago). It is presented in an aspect ratio of about 1.66:1, is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with what sounds like Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Unfortunately, again whilst playing the disc, it locks out all controls and displays just a "title" message on the player display. I found this most enjoyable, although many will find it anything but enjoyable I would suspect.

Audio Commentary - Tom Tykwer (Director) and Franka Potente (Actor)

    The thought of listening to an English audio commentary involving two native German speakers had me thinking of ways to avoid having to listen to it! "Sorry Michael, my disc seems to be missing the commentary", "Sorry Michael, but I ran out of time to listen, and I am emigrating tomorrow" and several others went through my mind. Shame on me! Whilst the initial couple of minutes just about confirmed my worst expectations, persistence actually paid off and this ended up being a reasonably informative and moderately entertaining effort. Okay, they frequently failed to keep the comments even remotely in sync with the on-screen action, and then seemed to cut the thread because of it, but that is part of the charm here. As you know I generally loathe these things, but this one is fairly decent.

R4 vs R1

    It would appear that the Region 4 release is pretty much identical to the Region 1 version, apart from the usual Columbia TriStar Region 1 addition of the Pan and Scan version of the film. Since we have PAL and they don't, Region 4 would normally be the region of choice. However, the reviews I checked out of the Region 1 release make no mention of transfer problems, suggesting therefore that Region 1 may be the better option. You should note that apparently there is a limited edition German Region 2 release with a DTS soundtrack: that soundtrack would really be something to hear!


    Okay, add me to the list of people who love this film. Apart from the uncharacteristic video transfer problems, this is a superb video transfer considering the varied sources of the material, and accompanied by a stunning soundtrack. At least give this a rent, even with the video disappointment.

    A superb video transfer, let down by two glaring problems.

    A stunning audio transfer.

    A pretty decent extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
18th May 2000
Amended 26th May 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL