Glossen 11: aufsätze

Tom Tykwer's Lola rennt: A Blueprint of Millennial Berlin
Margit Sinka

During one week in September 1998, Tom Tykwer's Lola rennt, a low budget film costing slightly more than three million German Marks, suddenly transformed a particularly quixotic German dream into reality: A German film, rather than a Hollywood production, garnered the largest number of moviegoers. Only mildly less astonishing, reviews of Lola rennt in the major dailies throughout Germany consisted mainly of generous praise. The relief at not having to comment on yet another specimen of the Cola Light, middle class relationship comedies that had proliferated in recent years was palpable, as was the amazement that a German film could be so incredibly fast-paced and such sheer fun to watch.

"Chaos, Verwirrung, Liebe, Tod," proclaims the movie flyer distributed to Berlin audiences in the fall of 1998. And the film, set in Berlin, indeed contains plenty of each in its short, eighty-one minutes. Yet its main plot, unfolding in a mere twenty minutes and then repeated in two additional twenty-minute segments with only slight, though crucial variations, is surprisingly simple. Receiving a frantic phone call from her boyfriend Manni, located in a phone booth far away from her, Lola promises to come up with 100,000 Marks-the amount Manni needs to deliver to car racketeers for a successfully executed car smuggling deal, the same amount that he had carelessly left on a subway train in a reflex action to escape from policemen controlling passengers for tickets. Lola has exactly twenty minutes not only to locate this large sum but also to deliver it to the far-away Manni-that is, twenty minutes to prevent him from robbing a supermarket or twenty minutes to save his life, for his criminal boss would definitely kill him were he to show up empty-handed. Yes, an impossible task, Tykwer admits, gleefully adding that the film operates on the premise that "you have no chance, therefore use it." [1]

Not surprisingly, using the nonexistent chance, to speak with Tykwer, nets no rewards in the first twenty-minute segment. Lola's impassioned attempt to secure the money from her banker father fails. Rather than preventing Manni from carrying out the supermarket holdup, she ends up helping him with it. For good measure, she is accidentally killed by a policeman. But, resurrected for the film's second twenty-minute segment, Lola receives a second chance to accomplish precisely the same hopeless task she had assumed in the first. Though she now obtains the necessary money from the bank and reaches Manni within the allotted twenty minutes, her efforts are in vain. This time Manni is killed accidentally, but by a speeding ambulance rather than a policeman's bullet. Since either Lola's or Manni's death thwarts viewer longings for successful romance, Tykwer provides yet another round of the same twenty minutes, concluding it with the kind of utterly happy Hollywood ending most German directors would be too embarrassed to even contemplate. Manni succeeds in recouping the lost amount from the derelict who had taken it from the subway car and in delivering it to his boss on time. The 100,000 Marks that the speedy Lola obtains in a casino, likewise legitimately, can now be spent as the couple wishes.

All three versions of the plot are embedded in a chaos theory-tinged philosophical framework accentuating the demands of fate and the vagaries of chance. The outcome of each version is dependent on the seconds lost or gained by Lola's response to the first obstacles on her run, a nasty-looking youth and his growling dog situated at a staircase in the building where she lives. Quite likely because they represent the strictures of time, Tykwer calls them the messengers of fate. [2] In the first version, barely aware of their presence, Lola spurts past them. In the second, the youth trips her, causing her to fall down the stairs; in the third, perhaps aware of the danger in her path, Lola jumps over the dog. Regardless of the nature of Lola's response, each has a ripple effect on all other events in its segment.

Most German film critics did not valorize as a fresh idea the concept that the decisions we make in life, no matter how minute, have snowball effects on the rest of our lives (and on the lives of those crossing our path). The film's success [3] rested less on perceptions of its conceptual depth than on its immensely successful blend of image, motion, and sound as the flame-haired, brightly attired, somewhat punky-looking Lola, her attractive stomach tattoo often tantalizingly visible, rushes across Berlin landscapes, either dodging or bumping into obstacles in her all-or-nothing attempt to rescue Manni and their love. The incredibly kinetic energy she exudes on all of her three runs proves a match for the pulsating techno rhythms accompanying her, music marked by far more variety than the techno amalgams heard during Berlin's entire Love Parade. Responding to Tykwer's accomplished, playful use of a broad array of filming techniques with the same unrestrained admiration accorded to his Lola and the film's soundtrack, German cinema critics emphasized that Tykwer had not only created something new but had expanded the possibilities of the filmic medium itself. [4]

As in Germany, many U.S. reviews [5] express astonishment that a German film can be so enjoyable. Generally German cinema is "so wretchedly slow, so humorless, so audience-unfriendly," writes one commentator. [6] Perhaps precisely because German films are associated with adjectives such as "dour, dark and depressing," remarks an Australian critic, the marketing of Run Lola Run, as it is titled in English, has "skirted around the fact that it is a German film." [7] Despite its subtitles, others advise against stressing the German origin of the film: With its American style and pace, nothing is foreign about it; its appeal as universal as that of Titanic, it can be incorporated into any nationality. [8] Based on the statement he supplied for advertising purposes to the U.S. distributor Sony, Tykwer seems to concur: It could "just as easily be set in Peking, Helsinki or New York, the only thing that would change is the scenery, not the emotional dimension." [9]

When elaborating on Lola rennt's appeal for Americans, Tykwer stresses its universal theme (a tiny moment has immense repercussions), its romance aspects, and the emotional identification its main protagonists Manni and Lola generate. [10] For most Americans, however, Lola rennt's universal nature is attributable mainly to its innovative, even dazzling recycling of familiar elements of international youth culture (music, video games, interactive links). [11] The emotional identification with the main protagonists, on the other hand, is far less pronounced than in Germany. Manni, played by Moritz Bleibtreu, rarely elicits sympathies (Americans are unaware of his stature as youth idol in Germany), [12] and Lola is frequently faulted for her excessive devotion to such a loser. Thus the rationale for her relentless run to save Manni is called into question. The bedazzling filming techniques, concludes Janet Maslin of the New York Times, essentially camouflage the "pointless nature of the exercise." [13] Could it be that Lola rennt is not quite as universal as had been supposed and that it is more embedded in German culture than is readily apparent? [14] In the following comments, I will argue first for this position and then for the view that Lola rennt resonates, in particular, with some of the most prevalent Berlin discourses at the turn of the millennium. This Berlin connection, even if perceived only on a subconscious level, provides the film with a cultural relevance on its home territory that it can not possibly have for international audiences.

Despite emphasizing the universal aspects of Lola rennt, particularly when abroad, Tykwer himself repeatedly highlights its connection to Germany, usually by comparing it to his second film Winterschläfer (1997), a beautifully slow-paced film with probing character portrayals. Winterschläfer depicted the personal and societal stagnation suffocating an entire generation of Germans that had experienced no German chancellor other than Helmut Kohl. In contrast, Lola rennt (Tykwer's third film), shot in the spring preceding the fall 1998 elections that removed Kohl from the chancellorship after a sixteen-year tenure, was meant as a wake-up call from lethargy, as a clarion call for change.[15] Due to prevalent German dissatisfactions at conducting business as usual, Lola rennt can indeed be readily transposed to the political realm.

Germany's bulky, impenetrable bureaucracies and the malaise of its population had of course caused concern for a long time, but former Federal President Roman Herzog's "Berliner Rede," held in the Hotel Adlon on April 26, 1997, jolted the entire nation into reflecting seriously about its societal ills: among them, the widespread culture of complaint, the prevalence of rigid behavior, and the unwillingness to initiate reforms of fossilized institutions. Exhorting his fellow citizens to self-renewal-to actively seek new ideas, to dare to be more daring, to create a society that encourages risk taking and does not punish initial failures, and above all to assume personal responsibility in all aspects of their lives, Herzog thundered: "Durch Deutschland muß ein Ruck gehen."[16] Sprinting ahead courageously and determinedly, regardless of the odds against her, and undaunted by initial failures (the first two rounds of the plot, as well as failures within all three), Tykwer's fiery-red-haired Lola becomes a filmic emblem of the kind of "Ruck" Herzog may have had in mind.

Admirably self-reliant, Lola responds to life optimistically, modeling it according to the Pippi Langstrumpf-motif "Ich mache mir die Welt, wie sie mir gefällt" (a point that Tykwer stresses in almost all his interviews, as well as in the character descriptions following his published script). [17] When events do not unfold to her liking, she recreates them until they do. Much as the policeman in the opening sequences of the film had put an end to the philosophical questions on mankind raised by an off-screen voice and had firmly steered the film into its plot, Lola decisively ends the speculative love discourses in the bedroom episodes functioning as transitions to the second and third versions and catapults the film into another round of action. As opposed to the protagonist in Groundhog Day, who is doomed to relive the same day until he develops a likeable personality, Lola herself chooses to relive her twenty minutes, and she does not in any way alter her personality during the entire course of the film. The grumbling about Tykwer's failure to develop Lola's character, common among American critics, surely represents a cultural misreading of the film. To flesh out her character by means of a biography and psychological reasons for her behavior would have meant to dilute her role as an unequivocal agent of change.

In Berlin, Tykwer's Pippi Langstrumpf-Lola soon attained the status of a political icon expressing passionate commitment and movement. But the film's multi-option plot may have helped to turn it into a multi-option icon that could be adopted just as readily by the staid political spectrum as by the progressive one.[18] This is what occurred when Berlin's mayor Eberhard Diepgen (CDU), advised by a savvy, new marketing agency, appropriated the design of Lola rennt posters for the posters of his reelection campaign. These "diepgen rennt für Berlin" posters (sic), six hundred of them plastered all over Berlin by the end of December '98, were intended to signal a zestful leap into the new year and to depict a physically fit, totally committed Diepgen, already running to ensure advantages for his city, even though the mayoral election was to take place only in October '99.[19] Tykwer's wrath at this poster, unmistakable in the public statements he issued in the first week of '99, was so pronounced because he felt that especially Diepgen had shown no mobility for years.[20]

With lawsuits looming, the Diepgen posters were gone even before the projected removal date of Jan. 12, '99. (No possibility existed, however, of collecting the thousands of postcard versions of the poster that had disappeared into private possessions in the wake of Tykwer's outcry.) Yet the construct of Diepgen running for Berlin in Lola-fashion was too successful to be eradicated from consciousness. In fact, Diepgen's victory in Berlin's October '99 mayoral election is frequently attributed to the turnabout in his fortunes prompted by the new, forward-looking image generated by the Lola-type Diepgen posters.[21] Though his marketing agents substituted "Ebi-Turnschuhe" for the Lola-look ("Ebi" for his first name Eberhard), Diepgen retained the dynamic Lola-aura as he continued to crisscross through Berlin, quite likely vexing Tykwer further. Tykwer did not, however, protest on June l5, '99, when the Lola-look was transferred to Michael Naumann (SPD), Germany's first Minister of Culture, in a large digitized photo printed by the Berliner Morgenpost. There Naumann appears in Lola's attire with Lola's tattoo, running through Berlin flanked by nuns-exactly as Lola had been in one episode during the first round of the plot. Because Naumann had already become a firm advocate of change during his few months in office, Tykwer would not have minded this adoption of the Lola icon. (Besides, in the photo Naumann is running to enhance the status of the national German Film Prize, the prize that Tykwer won soon afterward.)

Apart from its appropriation for Berlin's political sphere, does Lola rennt express messages pertaining especially to contemporary Berlin, or does Berlin's importance for the film exhaust itself in its function as the backdrop for Bolle (the Berlin supermarket) and the BVG (the transportation system), as a taz-critic suggests in bemused fashion? [22] Though Lokalpatrioten among Berlin's film critics register widespread approval that Berlin again figures prominently in an important German film (80% of the film takes place outside at authentic Berlin locations), noting that this had not really occurred since Wim Wenders's Himmel über Berlin,[23]or praise Tykwer for creating a fairy tale city rather than the nighttime, crime-saturated Berlin increasingly favored in TV mysteries and crime stories,[24] they likewise seem to perceive Berlin merely as background. Thus they inadvertently support the position voiced by Alexander Remler in the online journal Telepolis, who notes a pervasive tendency in contemporary Berlin films to use Berlin only as an insignificant backdrop.[25] The actual Berlin of economic and political upheavals remains invisible in Berlin films, asserts Remler. Today's Berlin film, in other words, is no Berlin film at all-and least of all Lola rennt, Remler scathingly exclaims. That Lola's run takes place in Berlin is completely immaterial. She could just as well have run in Hamburg, München, or-to add insult to injury-in Frankfurt, where Lola could certainly have found a bank more readily than she did in Berlin.

To be sure, Lola rennt does not raise questions on how Berliners are coping with displacements caused by unification and by high unemployment or on how they are assimilating the large influx of foreigners from the east.[26] And it includes none of the Berlin symbols imprinted on the consciousness of millions of tourists and armchair travelers. There are no images, static or flashing, of the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Gedächtniskirche, or the Potsdamer Platz. The exclusion of these clichéd Berlin signifiers is, in fact, conspicuous, prompting the conclusion that Tykwer did not wish to focus on the many layers of problematic German history they continue to evoke.[27] Nor can it be said that the absence of Berlin symbols constitutes the kind of void that paradoxically suggests a presence in mental awareness, much as the removal of almost all traces of the Berlin Wall has reiterated the presence of the Wall in differences of east/west mentalities.[28]

The focus on the Berlin aspects not present in Lola rennt has, however, blinded many to those that the film does contain. Its success in Germany is, in fact, to a large extent attributable to its being a Berlin film, claims a Welt contributor: "Er vermittelt ein Lebensgefühl von Party, Panik und Provokation, das sich mit der Stadt verbindet."[29] The entire premise of the film-the fact that Lola has to run-would, moreover, not have made much sense in any other German city.[30] If the film had been located in Hamburg, for example, Germans too would have wondered-as many American critics did-about why Lola doesn't take a taxi. But anyone aware of the daily changes in Berlin transportation routes due to construction work and the confusions these continue to generate in bus operators, much less taxi drivers, would approve of Lola running rather than using public transportation or taking a taxi. Since the fall of the Wall, stories of taxi cab drivers not knowing their way in either east or west have proliferated, and Lola rennt also offers an illustration of such confusions. When explaining to Manni why she had not appeared at their appointed place (had Lola come with her Vespa, as agreed, Manni would not have taken the subway and would not have lost the money), Lola tells him that she did take a taxi after her Vespa was stolen, but the taxi driver took her to the wrong Grunewald Street-that is, to one in the east rather than one in the west (actually, contrary to what Lola says, Berlin does not have five Grunewald streets and none of the three that it does have is in the east). Countless numbers of Berlin passengers have experienced similar transportation frustrations and would readily agree with the comment that the film shows "die Neugeburt der Metropole Berlin; einzig in dem dreckigen, chaotischen Berlin vermag Lola ihren Dauersprint glaubhaft anzutreten."[31]

But the construction chaos in Berlin-Mitte does not validate what Remler perceives as Tykwer's careless, patchwork arrangement of Berlin sites, the aspect of the film arousing his greatest anger. Whereas most American critics assume that Tykwer simply chose a particular section of Berlin-"a nondescript residential district,"says one[32]-or that Lola literally runs from one end to the other of the actual city, Germans conversant with Berlin's geography realize that the space portrayed in the film as a sequential chain for Lola's run is an entity composed of willfully rearranged parts. Why Lola would run from Kreuzberg (in the western part) past the Garnison Cemetery (in the east), and then again from Kreuzberg across the Oberbaumbrücke to the eastern Friedrichshain, only to proceed to the Kreuzberg-side of the Friedrichstraße, from where she runs to Berlin-Mitte-mildly stated, all of this indeed seems completely irrational, particularly in connection with the goal- oriented Lola whose time to accomplish her enormous tasks is already so limited. Though several Berlin observers do of course refer to this topographically confused Berlin, they are not particularly bothered by it-one critic states, for example, that Lola was so captivating that he forgot to be annoyed at the illogical arrangement of Berlin locations.[33] By no means equally forgiving, Remler accuses Tykwer of a thoughtless, meaningless attitude toward Berlin sites. He impoverishes Berlin by not granting any of its locations importance for plot denouement. Willfully discarding the opportunity to guide viewers to new ways of seeing, Tykwer fails to enable new perceptions of Berlin.

Yet Tykwer hopes, in fact, for nothing less than to thoroughly alter perceptions of Berlin, particularly those of Americans. Based on images of Berlin during the days of the Wall provided by Wenders's Himmel über Berlin 12 years ago, says Tykwer, they now lag far behind the times.[34] Though Lola rennt did not prompt American reviewers to reflect on the transformed Berlin, it is instructive to dwell on Tykwer's reasons for regarding it a Berlin film. A closer look at his long statement to Sony reveals that it consists mainly of comments translated from an earlier German interview.[35] But the Sony version substitutes a digression about Berlin with comments on the universal aspects of the film highlighted earlier in this paper. The German interview, on the other hand, emphatically characterizes Lola rennt as a Berlin film. No city is so synthetic and yet so alive as Berlin, claims Tykwer, and Lola rennt shows the exciting synthetic Berlin currently wedged between modernity and demolition.[36] While not glaringly highlighted, traces of unfinished construction work- and thus signs of a city still in the process of becoming-do surface in Lola rennt, mostly in upturned sidewalks or in the huge pane of glass that several workers carry across the street in each of the three twenty-minute versions. Conceding that the many construction sites in evidence when his team was filming are now beginning to disappear, Tykwer still stresses that they continue to reflect a city in the transition stage of becoming another city.[37] Or, as Klaus Hartung expresses it in Die Zeit, Berlin is currently still a "Grauzone zwischen dem Nicht-Mehr und dem Noch-Nicht."[38] The future city, Tykwer now thinks, will not transplant the old entirely, the prevalent view during the initial euphoric stages of recreating Berlin as Germany's capital. To illustrate: Several areas on Lola's run show scaffolding that had been removed, enabling new facades to be visible without removing the old ones from view. Rather than the one erasing the other, the new and the old seem to be forming an unexpected, particularly interesting symbiosis.[39] It is this synthetic, symbiotic Berlin that provides the ideal background for Lola, a woman running "zwischen den Zeiten und Welten hindurch."[40]

Tykwer accentuates the synthetic nature of Berlin in the opening sequence of the film. First, an aerial shot shows a Berlin without the Wall, but still divided into halves. Suddenly, accompanied by an unpleasant, deafeningly loud clank similar to an explosion, the two parts (separated by the Spree River) are forced into union with each other-clearly Tykwer's spoof on Willy Brandt's "Es wächst zusammen, was zusammengehört," a 1989 pronouncement on the two Germanys by now legendary because of the myriad of reformulations it has induced. Much as he commands the fusion of the two opposite parts of Berlin (yet far less obviously), Tykwer forcibly merges areas scattered throughout Berlin, thereby artificially creating spatial unity where none exists. Indicative of the most dominant postmodern discourses of the city-collage/montage, assemblage, bricolage,[41] his personal design of Berlin represents a filmic contribution to the architectural designs of a new Berlin that had proliferated in such large numbers during much of the nineties. In keeping with his heroine Lola, whose credo is to create a world pleasing to her, Tykwer fabricates a Berlin pleasing to him.[42]

Though Tykwer's goal was to depict a stage-managed city with an artificial studio aura, he considered it imperative to film at authentic outdoor sites, for only then would his concept of Berlin as a synthetic city become credible. Surprisingly, he and his crew had no trouble quickly agreeing on the approximately forty locations to be filmed (obtaining requisite permissions from various district bureaucracies was an entirely different matter). While large sections of the movie were filmed in Berlin-Mitte, several other districts such as Charlottenburg, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, Schöneberg, Wedding, and Wilmersdorf were involved. Many of the locations are familiar to those who know Berlin well. Thus the whirlwind effect of the film was likely to be more pronounced on them-for instance, when the film quickly presents a composite of Berlin-Mitte, Wedding, and Berlin-Mitte yet again as a single location. Regardless of how well one might know Berlin, it becomes impossible to untangle the filmically fused locations. The synthetic Berlin presented on the screen turns into a unified Berlin-a Berlin where it is difficult to distinguish even between east and west. Therefore Lola rennt becomes the first German film to present a truly unified Berlin and its lead Lola-claiming the Karl-Marx-Allee her own as much as Wedding's Gartenstraße-the first filmic protagonist equally at home in all of Berlin's disparate parts.

The more immediately recognizable locations in the film also reflect Tykwer's pervasive concern for hybrid unities. The Garnisonfriedhof at the beginning of each of Lola's three rounds functioned as the burial site for Prussian officers from l702 to l867; in 1900 it was turned into a park. Located in the eastern half of the city in the Scheunenviertel, Berlin's famous Jewish district, it reflects the unique Berlin blend of Prussian and Jewish influences in addition to signifying a synthesis of the military and the civilian. The inclusion of the Gendarmenmarkt toward the end of each version, though visible in its entirety only in the last round, is yet another sign of the deliberate stress on symbiotic arrangements. Magnificent eighteenth-century cathedrals, the Lutheran Deutscher Dom and the Calvinist Französischer Dom, flank the Schauspielhaus, turning the Gendarmenmarkt into an effective reminder of Prussian religious tolerance and cultural pluralism.

Geographical referents to more recent history-the Cold War-focus on the syntheses that have emerged in post-Wall Berlin. On each of her runs, Lola effortlessly crosses the Oberbaumbrücke, a heavily-controlled border crossing for Germans during the days of the Wall. After she reaches the eastern side of the Oberbaumbrücke, the synthesizing Lola suddenly appears on Friedrichsstraße, at the Kochstraße U-Bahn entrance on its western, Kreuzberg side. From there she spurts across another former border crossing -where Checkpoint Charlie used to be, thus landing on the eastern side of the Friedrichstraße, which city planners have been attempting to redesign into the elegant shopping boulevard it used to be before World War II. On Wedding's Gartenstraße, Lola runs parallel to a wall that had functioned in the Cold War era as a demarcation point between east and west. The Nordbahnhof (east) is situated behind the wall in the section highlighted by the film. For Lola, however, the Berlin areas on her run do not contain multivalent symbolic meaning. They're simply there, and she unproblematically lives with them.[43]

The territories Lola runs across immediately before reaching Manni are unmistakably in Berlin-Mitte, the site where Berlin's renewal is being orchestrated, its mixture of finished and unfinished projects projected on TV news commentaries as the representation of all of Berlin.[44] Thus the area where Manni is waiting is intended to be in Berlin-Mitte as well, but the location projected on the screen confounds our expectations of a Berlin-Mitte-look. We see neither grandiose architectural projects nor eery compilations of massive gray buildings and wide, unpopulated, inhospitable streets lacking touches of green, for Tykwer has transplanted a neighborhood from the western Charlottenburg, remarkable only for its utter lack of suggestive power pertaining to Berlin. This nondescript neighborhood consists of a phone booth (added to the location), a generic supermarket (the Bolle supermarket at Charlottenburg's Taurogenerstraße), unspectacular houses, and the pub "Spirale" (a citation from Hitchcock's Vertigo, like the spiral staircase where Lola lives and the museum painting of the woman with the spiral bun in the casino). To underscore its artificiality as a neighborhood in Berlin-Mitte, Tykwer makes the location appear like a saloon setting from an American western: Lola and Manni need to meet here at l2 noon, the high noon showdown time of American westerns; gun in holster, Manni approaches the Bolle supermarket with the swagger of a self-righteous cowboy. The entire setting is a spoof of the current inorganic nature of Berlin-Mitte. "Simulation, wohin man schaut," one Berlin observer states.[45] A cinema critic's comment that image sequences in the film seem like "verfilmte Storyboards"[46] may have been voiced as an objection, but Tykwer would perceive it as welcome proof that his intent to suggest a stylized, artificial Berlin had been realized. Tykwer is in fact convinced that the film succeeds in being so alive precisely because of the contrast between its absurdly synthetic background and the emotions expressed so honestly and vividly by its main protagonists.[47] To encourage the perception of Lola and Manni as particularly genuine and consequently deserving of viewer identification, the scenes in which they appear are shot with 35mm film rather than with the video footage reserved for the other, less real characters.

Discussing contemporary Berlin's relevance to the film in a radio interview soon after Lola rennt started its run in Berlin movie theaters, Tykwer emphasizes the fascinating resilience of Berlin. The attempts to clean up Berlin, to transform it into a stultifyingly respectable city worthy of assuming capital functions, have not succeeded after all: "Es klappt irgendwie nicht, scheint in Berlin nicht hinzuhauen" and "Es ist noch nicht völlig weggedrückt worden-das etwas Chaotische, die durchgewirbelte Struktur [...], eine bestimmte Aggression, aber auch kreative Aggression, die in der Stadt steckt."[48] In the midst of Lola rennt's many unnaturally empty streets, heightening the recurring impression of Berlin consisting of a set of props, people still act as if the streets belong to them and not to vehicles on the road. They are constantly surprised by the few vehicles that do appear. Lola never counts on vehicles obstructing her way and is surprised when a truck almost hits her in the last 20-minute sequence and whenever a bicycle materializes next to her or businessman Mr. Meier's Citroen in front of her. Workers crossing the street with a huge plate glass are caught unawares by the ambulance that rushes into the pane. Manni too, walking in the middle of the street (toward the end of the second twenty minutes) as if he owned it, certainly does not expect a car to hit him, much less the ambulance. While the ubiquitous ambulance specializes in crashing into people, the only two personal cars driven in the center of the German capital, a Citroen and a BMW, keep crashing into each other. When there are more than two cars on the road in Berlin-Mitte (other than on the Karl- Marx-Allee), they tend to be police cars rapidly materializing in surreal abundance. Rather than naturally belonging to urban life in Berlin, they seem transplanted from the many TV programs now zealously fashioning Berlin into Germany's capital of crime.[49]

On her sprint across the Berlin-Mitte section of the German capital, Lola does of course meet at least a small number of people, each a representative of a social class: the sharp-tongued housewife with the baby buggy, the derelict with his plastic bags (including Manni's bag with the 100,000 Marks), the youth with his stolen bicycle, businessman Mr. Meier (her father's associate) in his elegant car, and an old woman with a watch. Yet, other than a group of nuns strangely out of place in Berlin-Mitte, she encounters no crowds and no evidence of teeming life. Even the people in tourist poses gawking on the renovated Friedrichstraße populate the street only sparsely, demonstrating that most Berliners have not yet appropriated the transformed Berlin for themselves. Though the highlighted topic of many Berlin discourses, Berlin-Mitte remains "ein großes, prächtig ausstaffiertes Loch [...], das seine Funktion noch finden muss.[50] The waiting room aspect of Berlin stressed by Cees Nooteboom in 1993-that everyone in Berlin seems to be waiting for something and everyone outside of Berlin is waiting to see what that something is [51]-still appears in effect, reiterated in 1998 by Jobst Siedler's observation that Berlin remains suspended in a "Waiting for Godot"-mood.[52]

A "wait and see" stance alien to her optimistic nature, the flame-haired, passionately committed Lola nimbly forges ahead in Berlin-Mitte (despite her heavy Doc Martens boots) and reinvigorates it by her presence. Not once does she pause to ascertain the right direction, for she never experiences spatial dislocation. Her metropolis contains no fragmentary, disassociated spaces. Rather, the most disparate city spaces readily fold into each other. A sea of GDR apartment high-rises, for example, yields to the Neo- Baroque Bodemuseum. Oblivious to contraries, Lola in essence affirms them. In contrast to the angels and Berlin inhabitants in Wenders's Himmel über Berlin, who often seemed like "lost souls,"[53] Lola clearly exudes the sense of belonging. Yet we know very little of her past-only that Manni has been her boyfriend for over a year, that her father has never met him, and that she has frequently objected to her father's excessive dedication to work. Clearly she has nothing much in common with her parents, but the differences are not ideological ones and do not cause personal agonies as they did for the 1968 generation.

Embodying a confident present, Lola represents the paradigmatic shift that has occurred in the perceptions of Berlin. Contrary to expectations, Berlin is being perceived less and less as the workshop of unification or as Germany's laboratory for remedying societal ills. To expect immediate historical or political relevance from a film shot in Berlin means, therefore, to misjudge new realities. "Die Zeit der großen sozialen Bewegungen ist vorbei" and there are no new ones in view, taz-reporter Harry Nutt ascertains.[54] The Neue Mitte now defines the Berlin Republic. Despite the controversies still evoked by both terms, it is clear that they are here to stay for a while and that they reflect a distinct break with the past. They are associated with the key words "Umbruch" and "Aufbruch." Whether or not one belongs to the Neue Mitte is not based on economic, sociological, or political criteria, but on attitude.[55] Once again, the city famous for constantly becoming and never content with merely being is reinventing itself.[56]

In June 1998, the sociologist Heinz Bude coined a term for those who express the requisite new attitude for Berlin's Neue Mitte: "Die Generation Berlin."[57] Before long, in the summer and fall of 1998, the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel published a series on the Generation Berlin, each week devoting a long article to one of its prominent individuals, among them Tykwer. The films synonymous with the New Berlin, moreover, are those of Tykwer's production firm X-Filme (of which Tykwer was cofounder), proclaims Oliver Schütte in the recent anthology Die Bewegte Stadt,[58]a book introduced with considerable fanfare to the Berlin public by the Minister of Culture himself. Elsewhere: Lola rennt is the feature film that best portrays "das Lebensgefühl der Generation Berlin."[59]

No conclusive definition of the term "Generation Berlin" exists, but a large number of characterizations have been bandied about.[60] Generation Berlin-persons are, above all, self-reliant individualists unbound by convention. While not shunning confrontations with Germany's fractured, tortured past, this past no longer has a hold on them. Much as most traces of the Wall have been eliminated from the Berlin terrain, the past no longer defines their attitudes. Unlike the representatives of the 1968 generation, they are not saddled by German identity problems or motivated by particular ideologies. To them, Berlin no longer symbolizes world or national divisions, but presents a "Signal eines gewagten Ganzen und einer ungewissen Zukunft."[61] They are optimistic doers, not complainers prone to inaction, tortuous decision-making, melancholy, or dissatisfaction. Enterprising, entrepreneurial types, they are constantly in motion, propelled by curiosity for the new and by dreams that they want to realize. Reveling in risk-taking, they seek the unfinished, the unpredictable. Setbacks do not thwart them, for they are resilient. Lacking rigidity, they think fluidly and associatively. They gladly commit themselves fully, even obsessively, to new visions. And of course they are future-oriented, poised for a dynamic start into the next millennium. There is no doubt that they are planning on shaping it.

Although not all of the characterizations pertain to Lola (the entire cluster is of course unlikely to apply to a single person), it is not difficult to understand why she would be considered a qualified representative of the Generation Berlin. Even her motto "Ich mache mir die Welt, wie sie mir gefällt" is similar to the Generation Berlin credo of believing "konsequent nur an die Welt, die man selbst erfunden hat."[62] Yet Tykwer would certainly not consciously have fashioned Lola according to the traits coupled with the Generation Berlin. It is well-known that images rather than concepts lead to his initiation of film projects, and Lola rennt is also the product of an image not releasing its hold on his imagination: that of a red-haired woman running (rather than jogging) through Berlin. The attempt to find possibilities of translating this image into a filmic plot quite likely led to Tykwer's intent to create a film about the possibilities of life and, by extension, about the possibilities of the filmic medium (a natural development for the cinema autodidact for whom movies often were, literally, life itself-certainly the one he lived). By focussing on realizing a vision through trial and error, Lola rennt, perhaps inadvertently, turns into a particularly resonant metaphor of Berlin, at the threshold of the new millennium again "ein offenes Projekt [sic],"[63] its contours and substance to be configured experimentally by a new generation.

The song "Believe," not included in the film but placed at the beginning on the Lola rennt CD (the CD is meant to supplement the film), [64] provides a long list of what Lola doesn't believe in, such as trouble, silence, panic, fear, history, truth, chance, and destiny. But she does believe in one thing: fantasy. Thus the songs initiating her first and third runs ("Running One" and "Running Three"), as well as the song "Wish (Komm zu mir)" accompanying the closing credits of the film, all express wishes of pure fantasy, none possibly capable of being realized. The following, occurring in varying order from song to song, exemplify the kinds of wishes expressed: "I wish I was a forest of trees that do not hide;" "I wish I was a stranger who wanders down the sky;" "I wish I was a heartbeat that never comes to rest." "Running Two," with its list of "nevers" (for example: "never letting go;" "never saying no;" "never giving up"), consists of similarly unrealistic wishes, but they are placed into the context of Lola's and Manni's love for each other, a love proving that no impossibilities exist in their lives. The concluding song of the film stresses that it commenced with an explosion that shattered all limitations: "Wir sprengten jeden Rahmen, als wir zusamenkamen, es war wie eine Explosion [...] ich spür die Erschütterung immer noch, bitte lauf, lauf [...]."

To realize dreams, the film implies, there must be passionate explosions of the kind initiating Lola's and Manni's love for each other. Thus Tykwer does not stint with explosions in his film. Some of the most important: in the establishing shots of the film, the cartoon Lola loudly smashes three clocks on her furious race through a tunnel (all of the clocks show the time as 10:10-that is, the hands of the clock visually show a span of twenty minutes!); a clanking sound suggestive of an explosion accompanies the fusion of the two Berlins; at the start of each denouement of the plot, Lola's telephone receiver lands, with a loud clank, on its proper location entirely on its own (after it was hurled into the air); the sound of an explosion results at Lola's insight that her banker father is the one most likely to provide her with 100,000 Marks; and Lola produces three glass-shattering screams.[65] Each of these "explosions" propel potentially stalled action forward.

Above all, as Lola races-passionately, explosively-through a simulated Berlin full of streets largely cleared for her, she connotes a Berlin currently engaging the minds of many-particularly those representative of the Generation Berlin-as a vast, blank movie screen ready to accommodate all projections of German dreams: "Es ist, als sei im Spreebogen eine riesige Leinwand aufgespannt, auf der Aufgeregte [...] die Zukunft projizieren."[66] That the best possible future has a chance of being realized is conveyed in the film in various ways, but especially at the beginning with the off voice of Germany's consummate fairy tale narrator Hans Paetsch, his audio tapes a household presence in most German children's lives, and with the cartoon Lola (in the opening tunnel sequence and as she spurts down the staircase before turning into the real Lola outside), animation of course signaling that anything-even the most positive outcome-could happen. In Berlin, arguably the iconic millennial city, an invigorating "Wirbeleffekt" (the wording of Hungarian author György Konrad, President of Berlin's Akademie der Künste) is already producing incremental possibilities: "Multiplikationen und Kompression, viele Effekte werden zusammengezogen, sie befruchten einander."[67] Needed in this setting are individuals like Lola, who respond with various answers to single challenges,[68] as not only the repetitions of the twenty-minute plot sequence but also Lola's behavior within each version indicate (e.g., in the second version, when her father refuses to give her the needed money, she snatches the guard's gun, thereby getting her way; in the third version, when her father had departed before her arrival, she decides to obtain the money in a casino). Lola's seemingly cursed twenty minutes turn into lucky twenties at the roulette table, suggestive as well of lucky fortunes in the millennial year 2000.

Despite the film's advertising motto "Jede Sekunde triffst Du eine Entscheidung, die Dein Leben verändern kann" (a motto more suitable for Kieslowski's Blind Chance or Howitt's Sliding Doors), Lola rennt does not moralistically preach the value of making well-deliberated decisions, as has been assumed far too often. Lola wins her battle against fate or, on a more mundane level, against a rigid system (time) not because she makes the right choice. Her decision to jump over the dog in the third version, thereby gaining seconds of time, is a fortuitous rather than deliberate decision. But chance is also not the decisive factor leading Lola to victory. It is, in short, her passionate attitude and her general decisiveness. What really matters is her ability to make decisions and her talent to forge ahead-exactly the ability her banker father and many other Berliners lack.[69]

Up to the late nineties, Thomas Krüger asserts in the opening sentence of Die bewegte Stadt, Berlin remained "eine Stadt der Unentschiedenheit."[70] A city of upheavals, transformations, and incalculable dynamism, Berlin offers plenty of opportunities, writes Krüger, but many perplexed Berliners linger in a state of limbo, incapable of seizing them. The city is being shaped nonetheless, ever more frequently by newcomers not plagued by the contradictions and ambivalence torturing many Berliners, including Lola's father. Referring of course to the Generation Berlin-type, these newcomers are above all "Entschiedene."[71] Though not represented as a newcomer to Berlin, Lola too belongs to this group.

Clearly the decisive one in a film where so many people and things continuously collide with each other much as personalities, beliefs, ideas, and life-styles do in contemporary Berlin, Lola generates endless possibilities for the people into whom she crashes on her run, particularly for those whose lives seem the most humdrum and inconsequential. The Polaroid camera flash forwards projecting in five-second linear narratives the future lives of these people vary radically on each of Lola's three rounds. The woman with the baby buggy, for example, may end up as a child kidnapper, a lottery jackpot winner, or a Jehovah's Witness. Only the stationary mother, sipping drinks and talking on the phone all day, remains impervious to and consequently unaffected by Lola. Her TV monitor always pictures the same cartoon figure of Lola, running exactly the same way on each of her three rounds. The moving pictures create no movement in the mother'a life; the TV screen in her room produces only reruns devoid of destinations.

The photographs too, though flashing with the staccato speed of rapid techno music, represent static states-the depicted people fixed in stiff poses, their predetermined lives exchanged merely for alternate predetermined lives. Possibly Lola does not, after all, affect the people on her run so decisively that they immediately envision radically different possibilities for the remainder of their lives. It is just as likely that Tykwer imagines viewers creating these, believing that savvy spectators will perceive the passionate, decisive, eruptive Lola as a medium generating possibilities. Yet audiences may still be wedded to the customary viewing mode of expecting narrative linearity, an unswerving chain of events necessarily leading to a specific outcome. Tykwer's own three versions of the fluidly moving Lola, emphasizing the unpredictability inherent in all movement, attempt to confound precisely this kind of traditional viewing habit.

In essence, however, the film accommodates multiple ways of perceiving and responding to images, just as it accommodates diverse perceptions of time and dissimilar means of filling it. While Manni's twenty minutes are constrictive, allowing room for maneuvering only in the last segment, Lola's same twenty minutes expand and contract, fill out or fill up, rush forward and back, and influence outcomes in unforeseen ways. Lola rennt thus points to the delights of improvisation in the midst of an uncompleted environment, containing moreover the portion of "Narretei" Konrad considers essential in improvisational processes.[72] The Berlin population envisioned by Konrad for the next millennium-a population, "die sich selbst erfinden, formen und vielleicht als Experiment betrachten muss,"[73] is already being realized by the small minority designated as Generation Berlin representatives. Surely Lola rennt is the ideal film to impel more participation and thrill at involvement in shaping yet another temporary future of Berlin.


[1] Tykwer, Tom. Interview. InfoRadio. SFB, Berlin. 26 Aug. 1998.

[2] Tom Tykwer, Lola rennt, ed. Michael Töteberg (Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1998) l40.

[3] Other than Comedian Harmonists, Lola rennt was the only German film viewed by more than 2 million people in 1998, a year in which German films plummeted from a high of l7% in 1996 to 9.7% of the market share.

[4] For once, critics' appraisals and viewer responses were not at odds with each other (a rarity in Germany). Thus the public largely approved of the many awards bestowed on Lola rennt in Germany, among these the Hof Film Festival Prize, the Bavarian Film Prize, the Ernst Lubitsch Prize, and most recently eight awards at the German Film Prize ceremonies held in Berlin in July 1999-the highest number ever granted. Despite setbacks (perhaps the most disappointing one that the film-unlike Jenseits der Stille the year before-was not accepted as a candidate for the Hollywood Oscar for foreign films), hopes that Lola rennt would become the German breakthrough at international festivals as well proved well-founded. j. hoberman (sic) of The Village Voice reports that the showing at the Toronto Film Festival, held in the wake of the Venice festival, "occurred amid a buzzy crescendo of cell-phone static and ended with word that Sony Classics had clinched the U.S. distribution deal." j. hoberman, "So long a Go-Go," Village Voice l6-22 June 1998, 6 July 1999 <> . Lola rennt won the Toronto Film Festival Prize, tied later for the 1999 Sundance Festival Audience Award in the foreign film category, and also won the highest award at the Seattle International Film Festival. By now Lola rennt has been distributed in over 40 countries and has won so many prizes that Tykwer himself professes to have lost count. Tom Tykwer, interview with Susanne Weingarten and Martin Wolf, Der Spiegel l2 June 1999, 9 July 1999 <,1518,26915,00.html>.

[5] I am basing my comments on approximately 130 German reviews, a large number online, and on approximately ninety American reviews, more than eighty of these online.

[6] Gerald Peary, rev. of Run Lola Run, dir. Tom Tykwer. Boston Phoenix Online 5 July 1999, 20 July 1999 <>.

[7] Matt Langdon, rev. of Run Lola Run, IF MAGAZINE 18 June 1999, 7 July 1999 <>.

[8] Rev. of Run Lola, Respect's Movie Reviews Online 8 July 1999, 19 Nov. 1999 <>.

[9] Tom Tykwer, "Run Lola Run: Director's Statement," Sony Online 20 Nov. 1999 <>. Franka Potente (Lola) also stresses that the film could have occurred in any large city. Interview, Pro-sieben Online 20 Aug. 1998, 19 July 1999 <>..

[10] Thomas Stratmann, "Lola macht Tempo - auch in Amerika," Der Tagesspiegel 24 June 1999, 9 July 1999 <>.

[11] The French tend to view the connections to international youth culture far less positively. Disdainfully noting the absence of German cultural content, they find "Germanness" only in the techniques-in the mechanical engineering designs lavished on the structure of the film in the attempt to cater to the MTV crowd. Rainer Gansera, "Lola rennt in Frankreich nicht," Die Welt Online 7 May 1999, 5 Aug. 1999 < archiv/1999/05/07/0507ku1442.html>.

[12] Based on Lola rennt, the German GQ honored Moritz Bleibtreu as the 1998 "Man of the Year" in the actor's category. More than two thousand readers participated in the survey. 20 Nov. 1999 <>.

[13] Janet Maslin, rev. of Run Lola, New York Times on the Web 26 Mar. 1999, 7 June 1999 <>. In Berlin, film critic Robert von Rimscha accurately notes that Americans don't quite know what to make of the film: "Die meisten Kritiker finden sogar, irgend etwas habe der Streifen. Nur was?" He adds that American critics fault the film for lack of powerful emotions and a significant plot, and complains about unfounded Nazi associations made by American critics ("Stechschritt mit Doc Martens statt Stiefel und Techno statt Humpa"). "Renne, Lola, Renne," Der Tagesspiegel 10 July 1999, 4 Aug. 1999 < ku-ki-15915.html>. My own extensive readings, however, uncovered Nazi allusions only very rarely.

[14] German actor and director Detlev Buck (like Tykwer today, once regarded as the hope of German cinema) certainly does not think so. Perhaps with more than a tinge of sour grapes, he declares: "Lola rennt erzählt von Deutschland einen Dreck. Das ist reines Entertainment." Interview with Julian Hanich, Der Tagesspiegel 23 Dec. 1998, 9 July 1999 <>.

[15] Helmut Ziegler, "König der Bilder," rev. of Lola rennt, Die Woche 21 Aug. 1998: Medien. See also Tom Tykwer, interview with Thomas Willmann, Artechok 23 Aug. 1998, 18 Nov. 1999 <> . It is well-known that Tykwer, who had labeled Helmut Kohl a "Stagnationsfetischist" in this Artechok article, by no means supported the Gerhard Schröder campaign during the 1998 election process. Rather, he was one of the seven financial contributors who enabled Christof Schlingensief's political party "Chance 2000" to appear on the 1998 ballot. Wolfgang Weber, "Christof Schlingensief, 'Chance 2000' und das kulturelle Klima in Deutschland," World Socialist Web Site 2 Sept. 1998, 24 July 1999 <http:// de/1998/sep1998/chan-s02.shtml>.

[16] Roman Herzog, "Ich rufe auf zur inneren Erneuerung: Berliner Rede '97," Berlin '97: Das Jahr im Rückspiegel, ed. Berliner Morgenpost (Berlin: Ullstein, 1997) 11.

[17] Tykwer, Lola rennt, 118.

[18] Lola rennt should be the campaign film of 1998, Jochen Buchsteiner suggested tongue- in-cheek toward the end of the national political campain, when Helmut Kohl's reelection chances had completely dwindled. Like Lola, Kohl too had no chance, and he too should use it to crush all predictions of fate. "Helmut rennt," Die Zeit 10 Sept. 1998: 10.

[19] "Lola rennt zum Gericht," die tageszeitung 9 Jan. 1999, 8 May 1999 < tp1/1999/01/09/>.

[20] Tom Tykwer, interview, Spiegel. See also Alex Lewin, "Cool Runnings," Premiere July 1999: 71.

[21]Please see the following: Niklaus Hablützel, "Das Modell Diepgen," Spiegel Online 26 July 1999, 20 Oct. 1999 <,1588,3290,00.html> ; Holger Kulick, "Souverän, gestylt, aber inhaltsleer und farblos," Spiegel Online 6 Oct. 1999, 20 Oct. 1999 < 0,1588,44094,00.html> ; Andreas Theyssen, "Er läuft und läuft und läuft," Die Woche 8 Oct. 1999, 20 Oct. 1999 <> . "Das Motiv 'diepgen rennt' brachte den Image-Wechsel," Die Welt Online 11 Oct. 1999 , 20 Oct. 1999 < 10116011321976.htx> .

[22] Gudrun Holz, rev. of Lola rennt, die tageszeitung 20 Aug. 1998: 1C.

[23] Actually, contemporary Berlin increasingly acts as the backdrop for films. Among the most recent: Solo für Clarinette, Liebe deine Nächste, 23, Plätze in den Städten, Lola und Bilidikid, Dealer,, and Nachtgestalten. But most of these films focus on crime, on continued standstill, rootlessness, or on disillusionment.

[24] Not taking Lola rennt into account in the group of contemporary Berlin films he lists, Jan Gympel concludes that Berlin is connected above all with dirt and chaos, misery and crime. He argues that Berlin will assume its earlier metropolitan function again only when money and power in Berlin will again condition Berlin narratives. "Nach dem Sozialzoo könnte nun die Metropole kommen: Das Berlin-Bild im Film," Der Tagesspiegel 2 Sept. 1998: S3.

[25] Alexander Remler, "Die eigentliche Stadt bleibt unsichtbar: Das 'neue' Berlin im Film," Telepolis 30 Sept. 1998, 23 July 1999 <> . In a similar vein, Hester Baer and Lutz Koepnick fault much of the current German cinema for insulating "central characters from their spatio-temporal environments," failing to provide "adequate framing and historical contextualization." "'Raus aus der Haut': Division and Identity in Current German Cinema. A Report from the '48. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin,' February 11-22, 1998," GDR Bulletin 25 (1998): 45.

[26] Wondering about why foreigners, much less Germans, should watch contemporary German films if they contain nothing about relevant German issues of the day, one critic comments: "Die großen wie die kleinen Themen unserer Tage werden vom Kino eher gemieden. Die Situation der Ausländer, die Asylpolitik, die Arbeitslosigkeit, der Neofaschismus, selbst die Wiedervereinigung: zu solchen Themen hat sich das deutsche Kino weitgehend ausgeschwiegen." Klaus Eder, "Der deutsche Film nach dem Ende der Komödienwelle," Handelsblatt 30 April 1999: G01.

[27] Discussing the Berlin photographs of Juergen Teller (sic), Karin Wieland also interprets the absence of Berlin symbols as a wish to show Berlin "als organischen Zusammenhang und nicht als politisches Konstrukt." Karin Wieland, "Eine Stadt und ihr Körper: Berliner Metamorphosen," Neue Rundschau 109 (1998): 114.

[28] Richard Shusterman makes an excellent case for Berlin's architectural "Abwesenheiten" frequently constituting "Anwesenheiten"-for example, the old Schloß is now more present in consciousness because of the controversies surrounding the GDR Palace of the Republic that had taken its place. Now lying fallow, the Palace of the Republic is a stronger reminder of history than it would be as a renovated castle or as a building assuming new functional relevance. "Ästhetik der Abwesenheit. Der Wert der Leere: Pragmatische Überlegungen zu Berlin," Lettre International 30 (1998): 30.

[29] Gansera stresses that the film flopped in France precisely because this Berlin aspect was ignored.

[30] Hans-Georg Rodek, rev. of Lola rennt, Die Welt 20 Aug. 1998: C.

[31] Rodek.

[32] Hoberman.

[33] Merten Worthmann, rev. of Lola rennt, Die Berliner Zeitung 20 Aug. 1998, l4 Nov. 1998 <> .

[34] Stratmann.

[35] Tom Tykwer, "interview," Votivkino August 1998, 8 July 1999 < votivkino/328intv.htm> .

[36] Tykwer, "interview, " Votivkino.

[37] Stratmann.

[38] Klaus Hartung, "Aufbruch ins Zentrum," Die Zeit 10 Sept. 1998: 49.

[39] Tykwer, "interview," InfoRadio.

[40] Tykwer, "interview," InfoRadio. Elsewhere Tykwer again specifies that Berlin, a city "zwischen den Zeiten," is well-suited to a woman running "zwischen den Zeiten": Stratmann.

[41] Nan Ellin, Postmodern Urbanism (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996) 253-260.

[42] The facades of the two buildings playing the largest role in the film-the bank and the casino-are located in the center of Berlin (the bank building is in the area of the Bebel Platz, and the casino is the exterior of the Kronprinzenpalais). The interior of the bank is, however, the interior of the Oberfinanzamt in Charlottenburg, the interior of the casino the foyer of Schöneberg's Rathaus. In both cases, exterior and interior correspond to the antique, museum-like atmosphere Tykwer wanted to project.

[43] In essence, Lola reflects the new Berlin attitude Jane Kramer notes and valorizes. Finishing her latest New Yorker article on Berlin with comments on the recently finished Jewish Museum designed by Daniel Libeskind, Kramer writes: "The lesson of Libeskind's building is that Berlin isn't about meaning. [...] Like the Wall ten years ago, it's there. Live with it." "Living with Berlin," The New Yorker 5 July 1999: 50-64.

[44] Bodo Morshäuser stresses that TV creates the representational images of Berlin and that these are drawn almost exclusively from the Mitte district. For representational purposes, the other districts of Berlin, frequented by thousands of city dwellers, have become immaterial. Liebeserklärung an eine häßliche Stadt (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1998) 32 and 116.

[45] Heinrich Wefing, "Die neue Sehnsucht nach der Alten Stadt, oder Was ist Urbanität? Ein Suchbild," Neue Rundschau 109 (1998): 90.

[46] Hans Schifferle, rev. of Lola Rennt, epd Film August 1998: 36.

[47] Tykwer, Lola rennt 136.

[48] Tykwer, InfoRadio.

[49] The TV Program Über die Krimihauptstadt Berlin emphasizes that movies and television are turning Berlin into the capital city of crime that in reality it has not become. Prod. Alexander Kegler and Petra Strumpf, narr. Jürgen Vogt, ZDF, 1998.

[50] Peter Glotz, "So viel Hauptstadt war nie," Die Woche 27 Nov. 1998: 3.

[51] Cees Nooteboom, Wie wird man Europäer? (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1993) 90.

[52] Wolf Jobst Siedler, Phoenix im Sand: Glanz und Elend der Hauptstadt (Berlin: Propyläen, 1998) 23. See also Peter Glotz, rev. of Phoenix im Sand, Die Zeit 12 Nov. 1998: 47 and Hermann Rudolph, rev. of Phoenix im Sand, Der Tagesspiegel 6 Sept. 1998: 25.

[53] Fergus Daly comments on a paper read by John Orr (University of Edinburgh) at the Cinema in the City Conference held at the University College Dublin in March, 1999, which included comments on Wim Wenders's Himmel über Berlin. "Mapping the Neo-Baroque City," Film West 36 (1999): 36.

[54] Harry Nutt, "Lola und die Zeichendiebe. Symbolische Aktionen, Unterschriften gegen das Staatsbürgerschaftsrecht und ein rennender Diepgen. Wie die neue Opposition von den 68ern engefädelte Protestformen adaptiert und warum deren Zeit vorbei ist," die tageszeitung 18 Jan. 1999: 15.

[55] Nutt.

[56] Less charitably, Harald Jähner calls Berlin a city, "die verbissen dem Traum ewiger Pubertät nachhängt und nicht müde wird, zu behaupten, immer nur zu werden und niemals zu sein." "Abschied von alten Knochen," Berliner Zeitung 25 Nov. 1998: 13.

[57] Heinz Bude, "Generation Berlin: In Vorbereitung auf die neue Republik," FAZ 18 June 1998: 43.

[58] Oliver Schütte, "Berlin-Die Sinfonie einer Grosstadt: Die Filmstadt findet durch neue Akteure zu sich zurück," Die Bewegte Stadt: Berlin am Ende der Neunziger, ed. Thomas Krüger (Berlin: Fab, 1998) 170.

[59] Harald Fricke, "Tristesse und Investorenträume: Das Bild von Berlin im Film," die tageszeitung 18 Feb. 1999, 8 May 1999 < Name=1s09688aaa&idx=6>.

[60] Although many continue to regard the "Generation Berlin" a phantom, the term "Generation Berlin" undeniably has assumed a vigorous life of its own, much as the maligned terms "Berliner Republik" and "Neue Mitte." The characterizations listed in my paper have been culled from approximately hundred articles, including the following, which can serve as a representative sampling: Hans-Peter Bartels, "Generation Berlin?" Die Zeit 30 Sept. 1999: 42; Heinz Bude, "Abschied von der rheinischen Vergangenheit: Was will die Generation Berlin?" Frankfurter Rundschau 22 Sept. 1999, 23 Sept. 1999 <> ; Susanne Gaschke, "Der Stichwortgeber," Die Zeit 11 Mar. 1999, 24 July 1999 < zeit-archiv/ daten/pages/199911.heinz_bude_.html> ; Richard Herzinger, "Berliner Mief," Die Zeit 23 Sept. 1999, 16 Oct. 1999 <http:// 199939.berlin_.html> ; Andreas Platthaus, "Stille Gesellschafter: Eine bezaubernde Generation soll die verhexte Situation retten," FAZ 17 Aug. 1998: 37; Joachim Rohloff, "Budes Zauber," konkret 12 (1998), 24 July 1999 < 1998/12/rohloff.htm> ; Gerhard Schröder, "Meine Berliner Republik," Stern 2 Sept. 1999: 38; Mark Siemons, "Die bewegte Metropole: Dagobert oder Die ganze Wahrheit über die Generation Berlin," FAZ 25 Sept. 1998: 41; Willi Winkler, "Den Bagel auf den Kopf getroffen. Neues aus der Debattenkultur: Gibt es eine 'Generation Berlin'?" Süddeutsche Zeitung 11 Aug. 1998: 12.

[61] Gaschke.

[62] Siemons.

[63] Hartung.

[64] Lola rennt: Der Soundtrack zum Film (Munich: BMG, 1998).

[65] Tykwer claims that he was not thinking of Oskar in Schlöndorff's filmic adaptation of Günter Grass's Blechtrommel as he endowed Lola with her screaming ability. Though he concedes some similarity between Oskar's and Lola's screams (both express immense power), Tykwer accentuates the difference: "Lolas Schrei ist ein wahnsinniger, wilder, hysterischer Ausdruck von Verzweiflung und dem Versuch, der scheinbar größten Hoffnungslosigkeit und Panik mit Energie entgegenzutreten und die Dinge in Bewegung zu setzen." "Interview," Votivkino.

[66] Thomas Assheuer, "Das Deutschlandspiel. Viel Abschied, wenig Ankunft-Der Streit um die Deutung einer Berliner Republik," Die Zeit 3 Sept. 1998, 16 Oct. 1999 <http://> . It has in fact become commonplace to designate Berlin-Mitte as a gigantic screen invented by the nightmare and dream factory. Thus Dorota Paciarelli writes of Berlin's "Befähigung zur riesengroßen Projektionsfläche für alle möglichen Ängste, Bedürfnisse, Erwartungen oder Aggressionen." "Mythos Berlin: Über die Unmöglichkeit der Objektivität in der Wahrnehmung der deutschen Hauptstadt," Berlin. Die Hauptstadt: Vergangenheit und Zukunft einer europäischen Metropole, ed. Ralf Rytlewski and Werner Süß (Berlin: Nicolai, 1999) 811. Hartung calls Berlin the "Traumleindwand der 'Bonner Republik', Abbild ihrer Alpträume." In the article "Die bewegte Stadt" providing the introduction to the book Die bewegte Stadt, Krüger highlights only the positive by describing Berlin as the "Projektionsfläche neuer Biographien und Ideen," 22. Because it is again a city for dreams, writes Martina Meister, Berlin has again become a city for films. And Tykwer's Lola is symptomatic for the new Berlin, "das gerne wie das Neue Jahr geschrieben wird. Nämlich groß." "Wenn die Projektionsmaschine läuft," Frankfurter Rundschau 23 Jan. 1999: 7.

[67] György Konrad, "Berlin im Umbruch: Weltstadt heißt die Herausforderung. Ein Blick voraus," Berlin '98. Das Jahr im Rückspiegel. Berichte und Bilder von Menschen und Ereignissen, ed. Berliner Morgenpost (Berlin: Ullstein, 1998) 10.

[68] Konrad.

[69] When asked about his view of Berlin, Wolfgang Menge, author of the TV program Motzki, talks most of all about Berlin's inability to make decisions and its refusal to act on them even if they are made. "Mich nervt der Mief," Berlin: Die schräge Hauptstadt. SPIEGEL special 6 (1997) 35-37.

[70] Krüger, 21.

[71] Krüger, 22.

[72] Konrad.

[73] Konrad.


Lola rennt, 1998. X-Filme creative pool GmbH, Berlin, in coproduction with WDR, Köln, and Arte, Strasbourg. Producer: Stefan Arndt. Director: Tom Tykwer. Screenplay: Tom Tykwer. Cinematography: Frank Griebe. Editor: Mathilde Bonnefoy. Music: Tom Tykwer, Jonny Klimek, Reinhold Heil. Principal Cast: Franka Potente (Lola), Moritz Bleibtreu (Manni), Herbert Knaup (father), Joachim Krol (derelict), Heino Ferch (police guard). Length: 81 min. Format: 35mm, 1:1,85, color Original Version: German Subtitled Versions: English (Run Lola Run), French (Cours, Lola cours!), Italian (Deprisa, Lola, corre)
During one week in September 1998, Tom Tykwer's Lola rennt, a low budget film costing slightly more than three million German Marks, suddenly transformed a particularly quixotic German dream into reality: A German film, rather than a Hollywood production, garnered the largest number of moviegoers. 


"Chaos, Verwirrung, Liebe, Tod," proclaims the movie flyer distributed to Berlin audiences in the fall of 1998.


Berlin's mayor Eberhard Diepgen (CDU), advised by a savvy, new marketing agency, appropriated the design of Lola rennt posters for the posters of his reelection campaign. These "diepgen rennt für Berlin" posters (sic), six hundred of them plastered all over Berlin by the end of December '98, were intended to signal a zestful leap into the new year and to depict a physically fit, totally committed Diepgen, already running to ensure advantages for his city, even though the mayoral election was to take place only in October '99.



On June l5, '99 the Lola-look was transferred to Michael Naumann (SPD), Germany's first Minister of Culture, in a large digitized photo printed by the Berliner Morgenpost. There Naumann appears in Lola's attire with Lola's tattoo, running through Berlin flanked by nuns-exactly as Lola had been in one episode during the first round of the plot.