“At the end of our exploring we shall not cease from exploration . . . and the end of all of our exploring will be to arrive where we started. . . and know the place for the first time.“ - T.S. Eliot
“After the game is before the game.” - Sepp Herberger
These two quotes, from playwright T.S. Eliot and West German soccer coach Sepp Herberger, are what Tom Tykwer offers to kick off the themes of Run Lola Run (1998).
The first quote is about the exploration of thought, which is cyclical and results in the understanding of places we already are. It emphasizes the importance of the journey. Only when we’ve made our rounds and come back to where we started do we appreciate the value of everything. Lola’s (Franka Potente) journey gives her a new perspective on herself, her relationship with Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), and her own life. The final moments of each sequence, and the segments between Lola’s runs, fuel this realization.
The second quote references the film’s video game-like nature of “do-overs” and repetition. With each sequence, Lola starts in the same place as the last. “After the game is before the game,” as in, each time Lola fails a sequence, she starts looking forward to the next attempt. Just as soccer players finish a match and immediately begin looking forward to the next similar experience, Lola finishes a run and begins a new one.