Distinctively visual texts can control the way we explore and interpret the images we see, affecting the way we make interpretations of the experiences we come across in life. The distinctively visual represented in the film ‘Run Lola Run’ by Tom Tykwer is clear as unique images are presented to give the audience a feeling of suspense and thrill. This film does not use a large amount of dialogue, instead the story is told through images, symbols and motifs. Time is a significant theme conveyed through the film ‘Run Lola Run’. The film opens with the image of a large pendulum swinging back and forth, panning to the fast ticking clock above. The diegetic sound of the tick evolves into a suspenseful techno-orchestral soundtrack, and we see an animated Lola running and being swallowed by various clocks, symbolising powerlessness against time. This evokes a feeling of suspense within the film for the audience and effectively conveys the theme and relevance of time which will be established throughout the film. Tykwer has created a distinctively visual text in ‘Run Lola Run’ through the use of a non-linear narrative structure of the film, along with the film being played in ‘real-time’.
The idea of chance plays a major role in the film, evident within the three separate runs Lola takes to save Manni from Ronnie and his gang. The motif of 20 minutes till noon is constantly focused on as the countdown begins at the start of each run. Each of these three segments begin with Lola in the same situation but it is entirely up to Lola to decide the actions she will take each time. There is a slight variation to Lola’s journey which later changes the ending. These changes also occur to the characters in the film also. Tykwer conveys this through colourful montages which create vivid images of the potential future of each character. Through these different outcomes and cinematic techniques, the film highlights the importance of chance affecting the outcome as a whole. Tykwer has challenged our understanding of the role that chance plays in one’s life. Tykwer uses many distinctively visual elements to display the theme of love between Lola and Manni. The most noticeable is that of the colour red. Red tint scenes are used as Lola and Manni lay in bed.
This is a personal moment between the two characters highlighting the intimate conversation between them as they are embraced in each other’s arms. Close ups are then used to further emphasis the passion and devotion between the two characters. But the use of the colour red is not only used to symbolise love but other aspects as well. The prominent red phone highlights the importance of the phone call Lola receives from Manni. It is at this point which gives the green light for Lola to start each of her three runs. Lola’s distinguishable red hair initially helps create a unique and powerful character, allowing the audience to realise that she is strong and different. Red is also used to represent death, as we see in the break between each game, symbolising the end of each characters life. In each of the three runs, there is a constant recurring image of clocks and watches. “Do you have the time?” Lola asks an old woman, yet ironically Lola doesn’t have time to wait around for an answer, and continues running.
Lola is seen sprinting in split screen parallel editing along with Manni and an image of a clock. This use of dialogue, symbolism and cinematic technique highlights the utter importance of time, invoking a feeling of urgency within the audience. As a result, Twyker has portrayed that time can be more important than we think, therefore challenging our thinking. Distinctively visual devices presented in Tykwer’s Run Lola Run demonstrate the conflict between the notions of fate and chance, showing life as a series of unpredictable circumstances. This idea is obvious in the opening of the film where a voiceover presents a series of rhetorical questions, “Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Why do we believe anything at all?” The last question conveys a feeling of uncertainty in believing that individuals are in full control of their own destiny. A low angle shot then shows that the voice belongs to a policeman, a figure of authority who personifies ‘fate’.
Lola’s constant clash with the police throughout the film is a metaphoric motif of the conflict between self-determination and predetermination. The authoritative narrator goes on to explain in an forceful manner, “The ball is round, the game lasts ninety minutes. That’s a fact.” He then kicks a soccer ball, which is a distinctive that depicts human life as a game where the outcome is dependent on the actions and decisions made by the individual. Minor characters such as the tramp and the pram lady are recurring motifs throughout the narrative, as they are symbolic agents of change, reinforcing the postmodern perception that an individual’s life is interconnected with multiple parallel lives.
By using distinctive and purposeful images and cinematic techniques, Tykwer portrays ‘fate’ as a highly unpredictable occurrence. It is significantly evident that distinctively visual images play an important role in Tom Tylwer’s, ‘Run Lola Run’. The combination of techniques, including motifs and symbols further emphasise meaning through the use of imagery. The ability to establish a plot through more imagery than dialogue is highly effective.