Codes and Conventions in Film
Plot and Story
We shall consider narrative to be a chain of events in cause-effect relationship occurring in time and space. A narrative is thus what we usually call story
How are the settings, characters and situations introduced?What expectations and possibilities are established?What themes and issues are introduced?
Why are characters established and developed in the way that they are?Look at what they do, what they say, what others say about them, and their placement within the frame, their visual representation, their makeup and costuming. Look also at the relationships between characters, the role or function of the characters in the narrative, type and range of characters, and similarities and differences between characters.
How does the setting relate to the narrative? In other words why has the filmmaker chosen a particular background or set for a particular scene? Are any props significant? Look also at the historical period of the film where this is relevant e.g. Casablanca.
Examine the central or main story line and the concurrent story lines i.e. sub plots. What themes and issues are explored?Look at the ways in which story lines comment upon, contract or interrelate with other story lines in the text.
Structure of time Look at the way film manipulates time. How are the events ordered? For instance are the events continuous or is there use of flashback or flash forward?
Cause and Effect What motivates the characters? What events to the motivations cause? If there are natural and supernatural causes what are their consequences?
Point of View from which the Narrative is presented From what point of view is the narrative presented? Do we see it through one character’s eye or more than one character? Why and what are the effects of this on the narrative and the audience?
Closure or Closing Sequence Look at the extent to which conflicts, motivations, and issues are resolved or unresolved. Do the closing sequences and the opening sequences relate to each other? How, why and to what extent?
Film is a visual medium so examine how the following techniques contribute to the narrative: Angle and movement of shotDistance of shots i.e. close up, mid shots, long shots etc.Lenses used and focusing techniques e.g. soft focus, depth of field or deep focus, e.g. telephoto lens, normal lens, wide angle lens, etc.Type of film stock used e.g. colour, black and white, specialised film stock, etc.Filters used.
Lighting Is the lighting natural and realistic or expressive in order to set a mood? Why and how effective is it? Are any lighting effects used for example to emphasise an object, a character or an action? Actor How does the actor’s performance contribute to characterisation? Does the actor bring associations from outside the narrative film to the character?
Editing How do the placement, timing and rhythm of the editing effect the mood of a scene? How do the shots relate to each other visually and aurally-image to image, sound-to-sound, image to sound?
Sound - music, sound effects and the way the dialogue is recorded. How does the soundtrack relate to the story lines, themes and issues of the film?
How is diegetic and non diegetic sound used
Acting: What does the Actor bring to the role
Run Lola Run
‘Run Lola Run’ is split into three different stories that retrace similar (and often identical) settings, and the narrative outcomes change drastically from a slight difference in Lola’s behaviour. In one story, she runs past a group of nuns on a footpath; in another, she dodges them and runs onto the road, thus the story dramatically changes. Perhaps ‘Run Lola Run’ was created as a thesis on the Chaos Theory.
The film begins with Lola (Franka Potente) receiving a phone call from her distraught boyfriend, Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu). He is a small-time criminal and has lost 100,000 marks belonging to his crime boss by accidentally leaving it on a train (Lola was supposed to pick him up, but her moped was stolen while she was buying cigarettes). After the doors of the train closed, he saw a homeless man pick up the bag of money but he was unable to get back onto the train before it left the station. Upon not seeing any trace of his money or the homeless man at the next station, Manni assumes the money is long gone.
Manni has to get the money within 20 minutes before his boss finds out, and plans to rob a nearby supermarket. Lola urges him to wait and tells him she will sort out the money. She decides to ask her father (Herbert Knaup), who is a bank manager.
The main part of the film is divided in three "runs". Each run starts from the same situation but develops differently and has a different outcome. Each run contains various flash-forward sequences, showing how the lives of the people that Lola bumps into develop after the encounter. In each run, those people are affected in different ways.
The film probably would have taken a minimal amount of time to shoot; however, its editing would have been an excruciating test of patience. ‘Run Lola Run’ has such a varied range of angles and shots that it is impossible to typecast the film on a visual level, other than to say that it is edited, appropriately, with a sense of urgency and the kind of style you might expect to find in a Sony Play-station game (all that’s missing is a "Game Over" screen). Its best and most original gimmick is a recurring method of conveying the future of some of the people Lola runs past on the street - they are a collection of snapshots that abruptly follow each other, boom boom boom, and collectively take up less than five seconds of running time, revealing the often hilarious fates of these characters. Five seconds is all it takes for Tom Tykwer to cover the rest of their lives - just one example of the movie’s unique innovations.
‘Run Lola Run’ is not only a satisfying and truly exciting suspense/chase film. The throbbing techno soundtrack plays an integral part of the films pulsating excitement, as does the perfectly cast Franka Potente, who plays the redheaded girl in question with a seductive rage that is hard to resist. It is disquieting to know that it’s just a matter of time until Hollywood starts spewing out movies with recycled elements of ‘Run Lola Run,’ and they are likely to make a heck of a lot more money than this one will. ‘Run Lola Run’ is likely to become a cult classic.
“My intention is to entertain my audience with an action packed story that details three possible solutions as to how Lola can use 20 minutes to save her boyfriend, Manni. I would like the audience to develop an appreciation of my heroine as she runs against time. After seeing this film my audience will hopefully appreciate the way in which simple events can change the course of their lives.”
The motifs in the film communicate information to the audience about the character and the film
Motifs are images that appear throughout a film.
Motifs in Run Lola Run include; the colour red, the number twenty, clocks, watches and spirals, glass and Lola’s scream
Red – Lola has red hair that which signifies power and charisma. Red signifies danger, warning and love.
Black and White – The clothes of the nuns, the cars that the gangsters drive and the employees in her father’s office. Black and white could signify the clash with obstacles that block Lola’s progress.
Green – The colour of nature
Gold – Workers carrying glass wear gold jumpers, the rail cars Lola runs past are gold
The number twenty - is the amount of time Lola has to save Manni. It is the number she bets on in the game of roulette.
Glass – represents the fragility of life. Lola smashes glass. This highlights her panic and power.
Running – often shown through tracking shots. Lola is running against time.
Twyker uses a combination of formats to represent different elements of the narrative.
The main action is shot in 35mm colour film.
Lola and Manni’s memory sequences are shot in black and white.
Animation is used to show Lola at the start of her three runs
Video is used to shoot the scenes that do not include Lola or Manni.
The variety of formats creates a unique feel in this film. It is unconventional.
Changes in format mean that the audience’s attention is taken away from the narrative onto the visual style.
Karma – Positive actions bring about good karma. Lola’s better choices in game three helped her to improve her karma
Trivial interventions into the lives of others can have monumental consequences
Fast paced editing
Variety of cinematic techniques
Influenced by computer games, music videos and traditional action films
Style is emphasised over substance
Character are not developed by showing details
Non linear film
Three realities – different endings
Manni robs the store and Lola is shot in the chest and dies
Manni is run over by the ambulance.
Lola and Manni keep the casino winnings and get back the lost money
Lola is the key character in the film as it is her actions alone that dictate the events of the story. On her shoulders rests the fortune of Manni, her boyfriend. This is one way in which 'Run Lola Run' differs from the traditional mainstream text, which would normally have the male protagonist as the lead, whose actions are designed to save or protect the female character. This is certainly not the case here, as Lola is the dominant character, acting independently, with her boyfriend being completely reliant upon her. She is, without question, the hero of the film, and almost adopts the position of superhero. Her flash of red hair is unmistakable, and indicates that she is a woman of purpose and independence, who will not be dictated to. Her clothes echo past images of masculine heroes, particularly Bruce Willis’s character in the Die Hard franchise, while her speed, agility and poise with a weapon are reminiscent of Neo (Keanu Reeves) from 'The Matrix', another post-modern hero. Lola is represented as being superhuman, but she does not always succeed in her task and is far from being an idyllic character. Rather, she is a hero of her time; streetwise, independent, strong, coming from a dysfunctional family in which her father is prepared to desert Lola and her mother, while her mother is apparently a drunk. It would appear that the only person she has to rely upon is herself.
Lola is on the edge of a society that does not have much regard for her.This is particularly apparent when she enters the casino and is dismissed as not being at all appropriate for that setting. She represents the young of Germany, as they bid to forge their own path, separate to that of the older generations. Lola’s power to influence her surroundings is clearly represented in the film, and it is this that gives her the ability to alter the world and therefore change the society in which she lives. On numerous occasions Lola is able to smash glass by screaming, an action that shows her control and desire to change her environment. The scene in the casino also represents Lola’s power to control her destiny. She seems able to will the ball into the number twenty as she plays roulette, the ultimate game of chance and gamble. Although she is comfortable in her inner city dwelling, the fact that she can destroy represents a dismantling of traditions and values. Also, the way the story gets retold in a bid to eventually come to the desired conclusion, develops the notion of wanting to start again and rectify mistakes.
HOW TIME IS CONTROLLED
Within 'Run Lola Run', time is manipulated a great deal, and this goes a long way toward generating the film’s tension. The premise of the film is based upon the small amount of time that Lola has to find 100, 000 marks. The fact that she only has twenty minutes immediately generates drama and excitement, a feeling enhanced with images of clocks slowly ticking round to twelve noon, continually reminding the audience of her race against time.
'Run Lola Run' is a rare film in as much as it is told virtually in real time. This means the twenty minutes of Lola’s life are shown in virtually twenty minutes of screen time. In fact before the film title appears, we see the guard who tell us directly “the ball (the game, the film) is round (like a clock) It last 90 minutes. All the rest is theory”.
The early stages of the film rely heavily on the flashback sequences that reveal how Lola came to be late meeting Manni, and how Manni came to lose the bag of money. Combined with the dialogue of the two characters the scenes communicate a great deal of information, and carry more weight than if we had just heard the dialogue. The flashback sequence in which Manni leaves the bag on the train is extremely effective in communicating the feeling of disbelief, concern and powerlessness that both characters are feeling at that time.
The reason these flashback sequences are so necessary is that without them the audience would not be able to learn enough about the characters to really care for them. It is interesting that these are the only flashbacks used in the entire film.
Among the most interesting aspects of 'Run Lola Run' are the flash-forwards, which are not at all common in mainstream texts. Whereas the flashbacks are used to communicate details of narrative importance, the flash-forwards do not add anything to the narrative at all. They do not deal with any of the principle characters, and so it could be argued that they serve no function to the film. However, although the flash-forwards do not actually move the narrative on at all, they do reinforce the predominant themes of the film. They represent the unpredictability of life, and how we are not necessarily in control of our lives. Just as Lola’s destiny alters in each of the three stories, so to do those of the people she passes in the street. They, like Lola, are unaware of their destinies and seem powerless to prevent the inevitable.
The characters involved in the flash-forwards are also clearly seen during the opening sequence. From seeing them in the opening we would expect them to feature more heavily in the remainder of the film.
It is important not to underestimate the value of the flash-forwards in 'Run Lola Run', for although they each only last for a brief moment and do not deal with either Lola or Manni, we are somehow made to care for the characters they portray. We have no knowledge of their backgrounds yet the quick sequence of still images presents to us their lives, and generates an emotional response from the audience, be it laughter or sadness
Run Lola Run Film analysis
1.Discuss the representation of Lola?
Describe her appearance- her relationship with Manni, and her family
What motivates Lola to act in the way she does?
2. Analyse the use of symbols in Run Lola Run (clocks, red hair, red telephone, transport and glass). What do you think these objects may represent
3. Run Lola Run is constructed with three different stories that last twenty minutes. How do the closing sequences to each of these stories differ?
4. Film often manipulates time through narrative devices such as editing evident through flash forwards and flashbacks
a What information is communicated through the flashback sequences. What do we learn about Manni and Lola
b Provide an example of the information that is communicated through a flash forward sequences and its purpose in the narrative
5. Find examples of the following different uses of camera in Run Lola Run and describe the effect.
High angle shot,
Low angle shot,
6. Discuss the use of sound /music in the film and analyse the use and effect of music in one scene of the film
7. Why do you feel the Director of this film has provided 3 alternative story representations