The Subtle Significance of Color in Run Lola Run


Run Lola Run is both a visually and conceptually impressive film. It is based off the concept of the butterfly effect, the phenomenon that the small act of a butterfly flapping its wings could affect many other things, and perfectly resembles the techno age. Everything in Run Lola Run is a theory other than the basic facts; Manni, Lola’s boyfriend needs 100,000 German Marks before 12:00 or he will be killed. His circumstance are worsened by the fact that Lola was late to the handoff. The general concept of the film is simple; Lola needs to obtain this money in a certain amount of time, and she needs to get the money to Manni. What gets complicated is the different possibilities that occur along her journey.

The film is split into four sections. The first section is the intro, which starts the film off with black and white clips that contain accentuating red elements such as a stroke of red over gambling chips, a red phone, a red hoodie, a red drink and red cards. The film then abruptly transfers into a frantic and hyper conceptual establishing shot. All of the people in the cluster form into the phrase “Lola Runnet”, which translates to Lola Run. This symbolizes how Lola is the center of her own world and other people in her life are merely just pawns in her story.

The second section is the ‘first run’ where Lola hangs up the phone and immediately begins to run. The big difference between this run and the others is that Manni actually robs the supermarket rather than just planning to, which leads to Lola being shot. This act leads to the first red flashback where Lola asks Manni what he would have done if they had never met. This circulates back to the theory of ‘what if’s’ which is the general basis of the film. The second run forces the audience to feel sympathetic towards Lola, and we hope she gets the money and reaches Manni in time. Lola runs to her father’s office to try to get the money. She busts open the door and finds him there, having a fight with his mistress. He tells her that she is not his biological daughter and the father takes her out of the office. She has no money, but runs to Manni anyway. It’s too late, because he has already started robbing a store. She decides to help Manni in the robbery; the police arrive and shoot her, and we assume that she is dead.

In the third section, the ‘second run’ Lola ends up robbing the bank. While she is running to Mannni, she stops him just in time, before he robs the grocery store. She calls to Manni and he turns around and walks towards her, and is unexpectedly and ironically hit by an ambulance. This results in a second, red-lit flashback from Manni’s perspective. This time Manni and Lola have physically switched positions, where Manni is leaning on Lola as opposed to the first time where it was the other way around. Manni asks Lola what she would do if he died. Lola has just as hard of a time answering Manni’s question as Manni initially did when Lola asked that of him.

Then comes the final flashback, the fourth section, the ‘third and final run”.  Lola prays to God.  In the end both Lola wins the money in a casino, and Manni finds the homeless man who originally took his money. He gets it back pays the criminal. Both Lola and Manni live, and there is no final red flashback.

The most significant aspect of the film is the use of colors. They are the most prevalent and continually changing visual aspect of the film. The colors primarily portrayed in Run Lola Run are red, yellow and green which symbolize the stop light. This is a way of portraying how we deal with life. When everything seems a little easier, objects turn green. In Lola’s case, she seems to have no problem physically running, which is why she is wearing green pants, which symbolize her physical ability to run. When things seem to get a little harder, objects are more yellow, although this does not happen very often in the film. But the most obvious color in Run Lola Run is the use of red. Lola’s hair is red and becomes the color we are most often looking for. There are many possibilities of what this means. In some instances red symbolizes the world around Lola trying to stop her, such as the ambulance, the red bicycle, and the red trains that pass above her. Red is the only color in the film that has a shifting meaning. It changes from scene to scene. In the beginning of the film, red signifies danger such as the red phone that Lola uses when she finds out that Manni is in danger. But at the end of the first two sections, there are flashbacks to when Lola and Manni are in bed, lit entirely in red. This scene, although there is a possibility that either of them is dying, is both calm and sentimental. The red also signifies the danger that they each are to each other. The red overlay of the scene subdues the red of Lola’s hair, for the first time in the film, as if she belongs there.

The viewer is called upon to create their own theories in Run Lola Run merely because the basis of the film is purposely vague and abstract. It is hard not to place meaning to subtleties in a film that’s constructed in such a complex way. Films with a unclear plot often leave a lot of room for interpretation. These theories are employed in a unique way that allow the viewers to bring their own perspective and possibilities to the film. Rather than being carried through with a clear narrative, viewers of Run Lola Run are left wondering and making assumptions about the meaning of the film.

By Ava Kuslansky


Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.47.16 AMAva is an 18 year old from New York City, but is currently living in Brooklyn like the hipster she won’t admit to being. Her obsessions branch from Wes Anderson to Stanley Kubrick and everything in between. Ava has been making films since she was 11 years old. Her favorite films are The Graduate, The Shining, and Darjeeling Limited.  Unlike the majority of teenage girls, Ava does not have a twitter, but you can check out her work here:  or even here:



2 replies »

  1. Thank you for this movie breakdown. Funny enough, I heard about this from a interviewee on soft white underbelly. This woman was amazing and understood the meaning of life. When she mentioned this movie, I knew I had ti watch it. Along with your breakdown of the themes & overall layout, I’m excited to watch again with a different set of eyes. Thank you!


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