Viewing Postmodernism in Run Lola Run

Postmodernism can be a rather difficult “ism” to define. Many may think that postmodernism can be anything or nothing at all, since it is such a widely thrown-around and abused term. There is much debate over exactly what postmodernism is. However, there are some points of postmodernism that are generally agreed upon by all. Themes such as the recognition of disjointedness, self-referentialism, the breaking down of distinctions between high and low culture, and the embracement of pop culture are all generally agreed upon as the major themes of postmodernism. It is upon further examination of these points that the film Run Lola Run can be seen as a postmodern piece of work. This film succeeds very well at visually exemplifying postmodernism.

One of the major themes in postmodernism is the recognition that modern society is disjointed and lacking in unity. Rather than lament this fact, as the modernists do, postmodernists merely accept this and seem to rather enjoy it. They like to toil with and manipulate the seemingly nothingness that humans live in. It is perhaps because the postmodernists see that the world is disjointed that they do not use universal or global themes. For postmodernists, truth is subjective, reality is subjective, so how can there be a universal story or theme? They like to tell stories with a local theme, something that is almost always subjective. Perhaps it is because of this that Postmodernists also partake in self-referentialism. They know that they are creating art and refer to that. They know that their narrative or art is almost a little world of it’s own, separate from reality, and they refer to their little world, quite often. Postmodernists also seek to break down the distinctions between high and low culture. The modernists, too, wanted unity and to break down these distinctions. Yet, perhaps a bit ironically, through their art they managed to further separate themselves from all others, elevating their art, causing further disjointedness. The postmodernists seem to be aware of this and do something to actively break apart the distinctions: they embrace pop culture. They have no reservations in using pop culture in their art, as is seen in the famous Campbell’s soup can paintings done by Andy Warhol. They also have no reservations about using many different materials in their works. After reviewing these points, one can see how Run Lola Run is very much a postmodernist work.

“The ball is round. The game lasts 90 minutes. That's a fact. Everything else is pure theory.” (Tykwer). This starts Run Lola Run off to a very postmodernist start. Postmodernism is all about subjectivity; there are no universals; everything is open to interpretation. The very premise of the story is postmodern. Lola must find 100,00 mark for her boyfriend Manni in twenty minutes. That’s it. The film does not try to make some broad, sweeping social commentary. It does not try to show the detrimental effects that drug dealing and trafficking has on society. In postmodernism, there are no universal themes. Another postmodern aspect of Run Lola Run is the whole premise of changing outcomes and realities. This obviously shows the postmodernist belief that everything is subjective and there is no universal truth. How can there be absolute truth when we just saw three totally different outcomes, and basically no reason for why the outcomes turmed out that way? It is completely random. One random act of jumping over a dog in a stairwell rather than running past it results in a completely different outcome. This also shows the meaningless of life that postmodernists have seemed to observe. This premise of three different outcomes is also complete self-referentialism. Tykwer does not try to stay grounded in reality. There is no explanation given for why Lola and Manni are able to say, “No. I don’t want to die yet. Do-over,” nor does there need to be. This is a movie; movies aren’t reality. The way the film is presented is also exemplary of postmodernism. The score is all techno and electronic music. It’s catchy and makes the film move. It isn’t supposed to be some artistic statement. It’s music. It sounds good; people like it. The way the film is edited is pretty postmodern. Tykwer chooses to use lots of different types of shots. The film is jumpy and fast because of these shots. It is stimulating and fun to watch. This film is marketed towards mass culture. It is not pretentious or overly artsy. Almost everyone can enjoy this film. This is exactly what Tykwer was trying to accomplish. Postmodernists seek to break down the distinctions between high and low culture and embrace pop culture. This is exactly what Tykwer does.

Once someone sees all of the postmodernism in Run Lola Run, they think, “Okay. So what does this all mean? What’s the point?” There is no point. The film is pretty random, and it is excellent at being this. There is no deeper meaning other than it was an enjoyable watch. It was stimulating and fun, like a video game. The point is that there is no point. By making a postmodern film that is so exciting to watch, like taking speed, Tykwer is perhaps making a commentary on the condition of humanity. This, of course, seems contradictory to the postmodernist idea that there are no universals and that truth is subjective, but even being contradictory is a bit postmodern. The condition that Tykwer suggests is that we have come upon a time where everything is completely random. There is no deep meaning in all of our actions. Life is like a game, with many random obstacles that result in random outcomes. Some are good, some are bad, all are random. It does not matter whether or not someone is a good person. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. This idea, that life is meaningless, should seem depressing. Yet, the postmodernists don’t see it as depressing; they see it as fun and enjoyable.

Postmodernism is complicated and difficult for most because of what it’s all about. "What do you mean there's no point?" Postmodernism believes that life is rather meaningless and enjoys it. They believe that truth is subjective and that there are no universals in life. They want to deconstruct the lines between high and low culture. They embrace pop culture. Tykwer’s film Run Lola Run is very exemplary of these points of postmodernism. It reinforces the randomness and meaninglessness of life. It shows that there is not one absolute Reality or Truth. The film is aimed towards mass culture. It is made so that everyone will enjoy it. It reinforces the postmodernist belief that there is no point to life and that this is just a game. It is through this film that postmodernism becomes more easily seen applied to everyday living rather than pretentious, weird art.

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