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Into the Loop

by Sanghee Oh

Run Lola Run's avatar selection scene is a cinematic imitation of what we often encounter on the video game screen: an avatar is presented in a 360 degree rotating view, and the player selects her and chooses to enter into the immersive world of video game. This particular setup of imagery is a visual novelty, especially given the time period when the film was made, and could have been easily turned into an isolated instance of cinematic (or gamelike) spectacle*. However, as a part of the film in which the protagonist journeys through three repetitions of identical events in order to meet the winning condition for rescuing her boyfriend, the scene obtains a function within the structure of the film. It can be argued that Run Lola Run is consisted of five parts: one establishing, context-building portion, three loops, and the ending. The avatar selection scene appears in the beginning of each loop where the protagonist starts (over), makes a choice in the way of progressing through a series of given events, and faces the result. The protagonist fails twice, and succeeds at her third attempt, and gets the happy ending of rescuing her boyfriend. Such narrative structure implies a strong resemblance to the development of game progression, strikingly similar to Gonzalo Frasca's account of Ludos, where "[T]he beginning is a previous step, where the rules are defined and accepted by the players. The result is the final step, where, according to the rules, a winner and/or loser are designated". * a prime example is found in the film adaptation of The House of the Dead where 360 degree rotating camera is used to depict the characters' battle against zombies. Highly stylized, yet it serves no structural purpose and remains in the realm of visual spectacle.

Cinematic imitation of Game

by ying-hsin chou

In the scene that Lola was thinking to rescue his boy friend, she run through many options in mind and it was presented in a game-like 360 degree rotation. Lola’s options switched like choosing avatar in games like Street Fighter , which fighting starts right after player’s selection, and in this film, Lola’s challenge initiated after she made this first decision. This scene incorporates game elements of options and chances which represents part of the main concept of film. 

In games, what we expect from the selection of avatar is to choose a most powerful one to fight against enemy side, but here, what Lola has to fight is chance. The space and time condensed into a personal perspective, and the speed of switching characters with Lola’s narrate tensed up the game-like feeling. The time is used as an element could be manipulated in this film. It can be stretch, pause, and reverse. After Lola make her decision, there comes a series of key points that decide whether Lola can save her boy friend. The key points include the interaction with dog when she goes downstairs, whether she ran into the bum, and whether she met her father.  

Run Lola Run avatar selection scene

by Steve Anderson

Run Lola Run is one of several  films from the 1990s to use narrative, temporal and causal structures derived from video games. Sometimes termed "Nintendo narratives," these films are marked by repetitions, multiple timelines, episodic structures, etc. In the case of Run Lola Run, the main character also has the opportunity to redo her mistakes from previous threads of narrative, resulting in multiple outcomes that coexist easily within the film's overall structure. This early scene from the film launches the first of several attempts to obtain a large amount of money in a short amount of time, further invoking the visual rhetoric of videogames by circling the Franka Potente character with the camera while she decides which narrative option to pursue. The image of an implacable head and torso spinning references a convention of video games at the moment of avatar selection; this effect is also seen in Blade Runner when the replicant models are being revealed. Interestingly, at the conclusion of this sequence, the character of "Papa" shakes his head in order to signify that the chosen narrative path is doomed to failure. This strikes me as a convention of neither films nor games, as suspense regarding the pursuit of a desired outcome ordinarily functions to heighten drama within a story.

Genre discussion of fighting games

by hsun

This scene in "Run Lola Run" imitates, of course, something that we encounter commonly in the video game world, the selection of avatar in fighting games. The faces of ighting games might have changed much during its own evolution from the 2D arcade archetypes like Capcom's Street Fighters series, SNK's King of Fighters series, to 3D arcade games like Namco's Tekkon and Tecmo's Dead or Alive, but the avatar selection sequence, along with a few other sequences like the "VS" prelude before each fight, still remained the most discernible "quirks and picadillos"  . I consider it fair to say that the whole film is a imitation of various genres of games, but this "injection" of fighting game elements still stood out as the most conspicuous one.

It's really not hard to simulate either an individual video game or a genre in a film, and I believe plenty of other films that we saw earlier this semester have already done so, however, all those references at some level, remained ambiguous with a hybridity undertone. We couldn't quite put our fingers on exactly what game genres were there: is it a nod to first person shooting? Maybe not, because we probably see that kind of situations in other context too; is this scene inspired by strategic life simulation games? Probably only partly, because there are many other commodities out there could simulate both life and life simulation games. 

Like I just said, when it comes to fighting games, this kind of ambiguity rarely enters our discussion, maybe we would like to think why. As a genre, fighting games are not like almost any other genres, while other genres try to simulate reality as real as possible, fighting games have been trying to emphasize its disparity with reality. This kind of disparity makes fighting games clear of hardly any trace of hybridity with other genres. Its visual style is colorful, stimulating and unique, its discernibility and uniqueness in turn underlined its originality, it can't be replaced or redefined by another genre, either when simulated or in video game world.

Run Lola Run avatar selection

Lola considers a range of choices in a scene reminiscent of video game avatar selection processes

from Run Lola Run (1998)
Creator: Tom Tykwer
Distributor: X-filme
Posted by Steve Anderson