Motif analysis

Recognising and analysing a film motif

Running in Run Lola Run is about time. Time is something present, like an unnamed leading actor in the film, the central motif. And Lola runs against time. Her runs lead her through different "worlds". First of all, there is her own life world, where she does everything for her great love, Manni. To save Manni, however, she also runs through the working world her father and his employees. Through Manni's problems she also comes into contact with the criminal underworld. On a dramatic level, these worlds collide at various points, partly symbolically shown by collisions of and with vehicles. In the three worlds there are very different ideas and norms regarding the meaning of time. And then there is this intermediate world with its own rules …

In our everyday life we perceive time in a linear way. Past events lie in the past, now is the present and the future is what follows. Films usually deviate from our concept of time, because only in very few films does the duration of the film (the narrative time) correspond to the narrated time, i.e. the period of time the narrated story covers.

With the introduction of montage techniques from the 1910s onwards, it became common practice to break up the consistent progress of narrative time and narrated time. Filmmakers began to interrupt the flow of time by no longer telling stories in chronological order, introducing flashbacks or previews, or omitting passages by means of time jumps (ellipses). Time could now also be accelerated or stretched, for example by using fast motion or slow motion for dramatic effects.

Task 1

  1. Work out the different notions and norms of time in the working, living and underworld as they are represented in Run Lola Run. Develop a schematic overview in which you assign the individual figures to the (movable) icons for the working, living and underworld. Write down your thoughts and references (e. g. quotations from the dialogue) from the film on the note cards. When writing them down, also consider the consequences that an infringement of the time norms can have in the working, living and underworld.
  1. Describe and explain which ideas and norms of time determine your personal living environment and compare them with the ideas and norms of time to which the character Lola is subject.