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Resolved: No movie should be more than two hours long. Debate.

88 posts in this topic

50 minutes ago, jimmymac71 said:

I never saw the benefit to DVD chapters. When CDs were brand spankin' new, there were some with index markers, and my very first CD player could use them. Either way, they make no sense to me.

I assume that the chapters are so that people can go straight to a specific part of the film instead of having to hit the skip button over and over again.  I've used the chapters when I've only watched half of the movie and had to take a break for whatever reason.  When I'm ready to watch the movie again, I can look through the chapters and find the part I was at.  I've also been watching a movie and discovered that the disk was scratched.  I've used the chapter feature to skip over the damaged part of the film.  Finally, with a few films, specifically Mary Tyler Moore and All About Eve, my DVD/Blu Ray player somehow remembers my watching the disk previously and will start the disc at wherever I left off, which in All About Eve's case, it's usually at the credits.  No matter what I do, it won't play the beginning.  I've used the chapter feature to select the first chapter, just so I could start the disc from the beginning.

The chapter function has its purposes.

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I'll watch a movie that is over two hours long if it is entertaining.  If I'm enjoying watching the film and it is holding my interest, then I don't even notice the length of the film.  It's when the movie is boring and tedious that you really notice the length.  Sometimes a 90 min movie can feel like 3 hours if it's dull.

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Any film with Hugh Herbert in it feels like it's three hours long to me.

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4 minutes ago, TomJH said:

Any film with Hugh Herbert in it feels like it's three hours long to me.

OMG.

Tell me about it. I wish Errol would have socked him in the mouth in Four's a Crowd

I can't decide who annoys me more: Herbert or Andy Devine.

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From what I recall, most of Dickens' door stops/paperweights were serialized in

what we today would call magazines over a period of five or six months or longer,

some of which Dickens had a financial interest in. Then of course the complete novel

would be published in two or three volumes. So if the people who bought the magazines

also bought the novel they were paying twice for the same product, though I guess not

many people could afford to do this. 

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3 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I assume that the chapters are so that people can go straight to a specific part of the film instead of having to hit the skip button over and over again.  I've used the chapters when I've only watched half of the movie and had to take a break for whatever reason.  When I'm ready to watch the movie again, I can look through the chapters and find the part I was at.  I've also been watching a movie and discovered that the disk was scratched.  I've used the chapter feature to skip over the damaged part of the film.  Finally, with a few films, specifically Mary Tyler Moore and All About Eve, my DVD/Blu Ray player somehow remembers my watching the disk previously and will start the disc at wherever I left off, which in All About Eve's case, it's usually at the credits.  No matter what I do, it won't play the beginning.  I've used the chapter feature to select the first chapter, just so I could start the disc from the beginning.

The chapter function has its purposes.

I read somewhere that at least for one of his films, the cantankerous David Lynch refused to allow the chapter function on the DVD release, maybe more than one of them, his feeling being the film is meant to be watched from beginning to end as one uninterrupted work. There's a quote from him saying something like two hours is not so extreme an investment of a viewer's time. 

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1 minute ago, sewhite2000 said:

I read somewhere that at least for one of his films, the cantankerous David Lynch refused to allow the chapter function on the DVD release, maybe more than one of them, his feeling being the film is meant to be watched from beginning to end as one uninterrupted work. There's a quote from him saying something like two hours is not so extreme an investment of a viewer's time. 

But not more!

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1 minute ago, sewhite2000 said:

I read somewhere that at least for one of his films, the cantankerous David Lynch refused to allow the chapter function on the DVD release, maybe more than one of them, his feeling being the film is meant to be watched from beginning to end as one uninterrupted work. There's a quote from him saying something like two hours is not so extreme an investment of a viewer's time. 

That was the original DVD of Mulholland Drive with no chapter stops. That made me laugh. 

Lynch's last theatrical film was Inland Empire in 2006. That was 3 hours long.

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Wow.  Lots of interesting comments.  Where to start.  Let's say first that two hours isn't an absolute limit, beyond which should lie cinematic annihilation.  But much beyond that you're pushing up against the limit of toleration.  I said two hours because it looked better in the thread title than saying 'about two hours, give or take a certain amount, depending on circumstances and the quality of the movie.'  My most general response to people who cited long good movies (and long bad ones) is that they all were probably longer in their pre-release form.  We don't pine for that lost footage.  And if they had been cut even more pre-release, we'd never know the difference.  'Course there are movies where it's pretty clear how to cut them.  I remember thinking to myself while watching Titanic (1997), at 3h 14min, that there probably was a decent hour and three-quarter movie in it somewhere.

As for arguing that long good movies give you more to savor of the good stuff, all I have to say is that I like ice cream a lot--I mean a lot.  But I can't eat a gallon of it at a time.

And CaveGirl, as Muddy Waters has it, I'm a Man!  But it's not my backside that wearies watching a long movie, it's my brain.  Worry not, I watch movies in pleasant circumstances, on my restful sofa, or in my comfy chair.  But I will test your notion of the Chitty effect, and reduce my watching it to no more than three times a week.

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5 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

Image result for little dorrit

 

This series was fantastic, one of the best television mini-series I've ever seen. Of course, part of its success can be attributed to Dickens. But I suspect the movie (I think someone said  from 1987??) version is nowhere near as good.

The two-part 1987 movie has its good points--Alec Guinness as Dorritt's father, for one--but completely cuts out the "unnecessary" subplot with Rigaud.  So, there's that.

Similarly, I'd watched the British concert TV-miniseries of the nine-hour Royal Shakespeare stage "Nicholas Nickelby" with Roger Rees before ever having seen the two-hour condensed '02 movie version, and there is a difference--The Dickens is in the details.  :)  The RSC version's out of print on DVD, but YouTube's got it.

 

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I have a few Soviet-era films.  I haven't seen those yet.  Times may or may not be correct here - too late for me to dig around to find out.

Solyaris (1971) - 167 min
Miss Mend (1926) 250 min
Stalker (1979) 2h 42min

 

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Wasn't Miss Mend originally released as three films in the ~80-90 minute range?

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I don't remember know why this was even being discussed or on what thread, but not too long ago, I was talking about Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America. Leone had about nine hours of usable footage. He wanted to release it as two separate three-hour films. He finally agreed to cutting it down to less than four hours, and the film was scheduled to be released in a three hour, 49 minute version. This was the version that was intended to be released as late as when trailers started airing in American theaters. But only days before release, the Ladd Co. panicked and cut the American release down to two hours, 24 minutes, it appears without giving Leone any role in this new edit or even telling him they were going to do it. The film was still released in the longer version in Europe. 

I've seen both versions, and the shorter one doesn't make any sense. Too much information has been removed, and you can't grasp the connections between what's happening to characters over large jumps in time. Unsurprisingly, this version did poorly at the US box office and got poor reviews from US critics. Despite stunning art direction and cinematography, not to mention Leone's direction and many great acting performances and a beautiful Morricone score, the film didn't get a single Oscar nomination. Happily, the longer version eventually came out on VHS and DVD releases, and the film got some reevaluation as a masterpiece by some critics. Roger Ebert famously trashed the theatrical release but loved the VHS release so much, he gave it a second review and was effusive in praise for it. He urged potential viewers heading to Blockbuster to check the running time on the box and only rent the movie if it was the longer version.

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14 hours ago, EricJ said:

Why not ask your DVD?--I'll bet they have a whole menu function for that!  ;)

That I know about.  However, these are artificial "chapters" created when the DVD is manufactured.  They may or may not correspond to what the producer, director and/or screenwriter intended. 

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15 hours ago, jimmymac71 said:

I thought about that part. Of course not. If I ever write a book, it will be about time travel, and that will change everything. I will go to Back To The Future III, 1885. I won't be back.

For ten bungeros, I will send you the audiobook version, read by the author.

My time machine will be an outhouse, which can stay in 1885, and not stick out like a sore thumb. Some claim the DeLorean DMC-12 was a piece of junk, depending on who you ask, and no, it could not actually reach 88 MPH.

Yes, the pages (page) only exists in my mind. The book would start out as audio, then make it to other media.

I love time machines!

When they make the movie version of your book, Jimmy you should hire DeLorean's former wife, Christina Ferrare to star in it, but only use her voice as that of the DeLorean souped up car you use. Kind of like using Ann Sothern as the voice, in "My Mother, The Car".

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14 hours ago, TomJH said:

I agree that some films need more than a two hour running time. While I think that GWTW, for example, might have used a little judicious editing in its second half, I can't envision that film being effective at two hours.

Having said that, there are relatively few films over two hours that I will watch a second or third time and that includes GWTW, even though I have the DVD. It just sits there in its tremendous length making me think, "Naw, I'll watch something shorter tonight. Where's that Popeye cartoon?"

300px-Popeye_title_card.png

Frequently I will ask my wife what she wants to watch and suggest some movies and her response is often too long.  We often pick a 90 minute or so movie.  That is one of the benefits of having recorded a lot of 40's and 50's movies from TCM or purchased DVD's of that period.

14 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

Hmm, not so sure about books. Reading a book is, obviously, an entirely different experience from watching a film. For one thing, films are intended to be viewed in one session, whether that session is 90 minutes or 240 minutes (yikes ! a 4 hour-long movie ! But they do exist...).

Books, on the other hand - and I'm talking mainly about fiction here, specifically novels - are not necessarily intended to be read all in one sitting. I don't mind reading a very long book if it's good. It's a whole different storytelling form from movies.

My comment is in reference to too much to read, not in how it is read.  I never read a book in one sitting, but after several nights and still being only half-way through I begin to wonder why the author could not have made it shorter.   After several nights I may also forget who this character is since not mentioned since first chapter.  The authors also tend to crowd in more extraneous people, more locations, more plot devices, etc. if they have 400-500 pages to work with. 

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22 minutes ago, TheCid said:

My comment is in reference to too much to read, not in how it is read.  I never read a book in one sitting, but after several nights and still being only half-way through I begin to wonder why the author could not have made it shorter.   After several nights I may also forget who this character is since not mentioned since first chapter.  The authors also tend to crowd in more extraneous people, more locations, more plot devices, etc. if they have 400-500 pages to work with. 

Ah, books are a different matter.  Can't get too much Don Quixote.  

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20 hours ago, CaveGirl said:

Who me? 

The unabridged tale is woeful, but the unexpurgated one will be spectacular. The men, the affairs, the lost canines in the luggage racks on trips to Europe. All will be in my upcoming book. The time spent in hibernation reading the complete "Hypnerotomachia Poliphili" by Colonna, the mad monk who was obsessed with gardening and architecture, which is why I adore the film "Last Year at Marienbad" by Alain Resnais. 

The pilgrimages to the tomb of Machiavelli in Firenze, and the unipolar attacks of my twisted psyche will add to the melodrama in my tome. Look for the paperback edition by Avon, coming out next year, Jimmy. For ten bucks I will send you an autographed copy if you promise to not reveal my home address since the book will be a Roman a Clef, but I'm not giving out the key to anyone here. I promise it will be at least as good as "The Poems of Suzanne Somers".

This sounds so "Love In The Afternoon"-ish. Perhaps you are kin to Audrey Hepburn, not my Auntie Mame.

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I tend to believe that most films of the studio era longer than two hours deserved to be, and The Best Years of Our Lives is a great example, but most films of today longer than two hours are too long. In fact, most films of today are longer than two hours because "If Director X's comic book sequel is two and a half hours long, then MY comic book sequel has to be two and a half hours long." The length of the film is proportional to the director's ego.

 

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19 minutes ago, kingrat said:

The length of the film is proportional to the director's ego.

Ah! you have hit on the formula!

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34 minutes ago, kingrat said:

I tend to believe that most films of the studio era longer than two hours deserved to be, and The Best Years of Our Lives is a great example, but most films of today longer than two hours are too long. In fact, most films of today are longer than two hours because "If Director X's comic book sequel is two and a half hours long, then MY comic book sequel has to be two and a half hours long." The length of the film is proportional to the director's ego.

 

During the studio-era,  in most cases the 'final' released length of a film was proportional to either the producer's or studio head's ego.  (what the director submitted to the producer as the 'this is ready for commercial release'  version was proportional to the director's ego!).    

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, Vautrin said:

From what I recall, most of Dickens' door stops/paperweights were serialized in

what we today would call magazines over a period of five or six months or longer,

some of which Dickens had a financial interest in. Then of course the complete novel

would be published in two or three volumes. So if the people who bought the magazines

also bought the novel they were paying twice for the same product, though I guess not

many people could afford to do this. 

I like any thread which mentions Dickens. I think the fact that he often didn't plan how his serializations would end, is fascinating. He may have been as surprised by some developments as his readers. I remember reading that he cried as he wrote that Little Nell was dying, which made me go seeking the Old Curiosity Shop while in London, knowing full well it didn't exist, but there was some hodge podge type store using the name on one street.

I once got the tale "Little Dorrit" from a video store with two videocassettes, watched volume 1, and was excited to see Volume 2 [even though I'd read the book as a teenager] and some dolt at the video store had put two copies of the first volume together and obviously two copies of the second volume together as sets. I took it back and they said they had thought the other copy was defective and sent it back to the manufacturer, so I am still waiting to see part 2! Enjoyed your thoughts, Vautrin!

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Those long films were called EPICS in the recent past.  I usually don't mind them because, I will take a break and watch the rest of the film in the future.  

One of my favorite long films is FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD 1967 DIRECTED BY JOHN SCHLESINGER. I AM A BIG THOMAS HARDY fan ever since I read D H LAWRENCE'S critique of HARDY IN THE STUDY OF THOMAS HARDY.  Hardy was Lawrence's muse.  MADDING CROWD IS one of a few Hardy books that has a happy ending.  Well, Sargent Troy gets murdered by Boldwood.  Bethshiba Everdine  finally gets wise and marries poor long suffering Gabriel Oak. The cast of  fantastic BRITISH ACTORS INCLUDE JULIE CHRISTIE, ALAN BATES, PETER FINCH AND TERRANCE STAMP. They were all good.

I also love the beautiful pastoral photography BY NICOLAS ROAG of the real DORSET  (Hardy country) that the film was shot. It literally made me sad, when  Oak shoots his dog after it chases his sheep down the long cliff to their deaths.

As a side note, did anybody watch MASTERPIECE THEATRE in the 1970s with ALISTAIRE COOKE.  The series  or BBC to be more accurate produced two dramatizations of Hardy's novels THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE AND THE MAYOR CASTERBRIDGE.


 

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