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


slaytonf
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This thread was prompted by the following parenthesis by Dargo in another thread:

(...supposedly his reason for this was that he felt the movie's running time of 221 freakin' minutes was already too damn long!!!)

 

I'll say up front, this has been my position for a long time.  Two hours is plenty of time to do justice to whatever material you cover.  After that, no matter how good the movie, it starts to wear.  Anything more is egotism on the part of the filmmaker (I am waiting to see a director's cut that's actually shorter that the original release.)

And if you really can't cover the matter in two hours, split the movie up, like Richard Lester did with the Musketeer movies.  Then you can make twice the money.

I'll offer Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as an example.  I really like this movie, and I watch it more than many better musicals.  But you know, it does start to tire toward the end, notwithstanding the wonderful coda of Potts and Scrumptious driving off into the sunset sky.  And if it gets tiring for me, what would it be like for a child, who doesn't have the same mental stamina I have?  The movie I think would definitely benefit by being fifteen or so minutes shorter.

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Do you really think more than 1-1/2 hours or 1 hour could have been lopped off of "Lawrence Of Arabia", "Dr. Zhivago", "Gone With The Wind", "All Quiet On The Western Front" or chunks taken out of the original "Star Wars"?

Even "To Kill A Mockingbird" went 10 or 15 minutes over that 2hr limit. I don't think I could stand a second of that movie being cut. 

Sure there are plenty of stinkers or marginal movies out there that could stand a firm editing hand.  And others that would actually benefit from a good cutting in the right places. But certain classics deserve the time needed not just to tell a story, but for the audience to savor the nuances of the technical aspects and visual creations imagined and brought to life by a brilliant director seeking to further enhance a story. Sometimes only time can accomplish that.

 

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(...aaah, I love when they quote me) ;)

Actually slayton ol' buddy, while I think that, yes, there are probably more than a few films with running times well over the customary 2 hour mark that could or might have benefited by a trim job here and there, and perhaps GWTW would be one of them, I also think there might be a few other examples where such a thing might actually be to the film's detriment.

Now, the first film that came to my mind that runs past that mark but always holds my interest front start to finish would be The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.

Yep, I love every single minute of its 2:23:00 running time.

(...and given enough time, I'm sure I could probably think of a few more examples in this regard)  

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58 minutes ago, Dargo said:

(...aaah, I love when they quote me) ;)

Actually slayton ol' buddy, while I think that, yes, there are probably more than a few films with running times well over the customary 2 hour mark that could or might have benefited by a trim job here and there, and perhaps GWTW would be one of them, I also think there might be a few other examples where such a thing might actually be to the film's detriment.

Now, the first film that came to my mind that runs past that mark but always holds my interest front start to finish would be The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.

Yep, I love every single minute of its 2:23:00 running time.

(...and given enough time, I'm sure I could probably think of a few more examples in this regard)  

Don't you really like The Best Years of Our Lives?

Personally, there are dozens of movies over two hours that I like. If a movie is really good, it doesn't matter how long it is. 

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

Don't you really like The Best Years of Our Lives?

Personally, there are dozens of movies over two hours that I like. If a movie is really good, it doesn't matter how long it is. 

YEAH, I do, and as a matter of fact Lawrence, it's my favorite film of all time.

Funny I didn't think of this one first, isn't it. And it's almost another half hour longer than "Blimp"!

(...and so there ya go...if one is captivated by a particular film, then like you just said here, it doesn't matter how long its running time might be)

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I'm with slayton on this one, I hardly ever like a movie that's longer than two hours. "That said", there are loads of exceptions, including, as Lawrence and Dargs mention, The Best Years of Our Lives.  I love it and never notice how long it is. There are others that run considerably over that two hour duration that I really like, but off-hand I can't name any.

Here's the thing about movies: I like it when they get in, tell their story, and get out. All those long movies zea mentioned, I can't stand. Doctor Zhivago, to me, just goes on and on. I always want to dump a Russian samover of tea over Lara's head by about the 100th time I've seen her smiling sadly into the sunset, or Omar Sharif's eyes, or whatever.

In fact, I hate epics. They bore me, I lose interest in the characters - there are so many characters. And I just can't get with the rapid passage of time in these things; one minute we have, say, a family with children and a happily married couple, the next, the aforementioned children are all grown up and the happy couple are divorced. I'm not basing that on any particular epic film, it's just an example. It's disorienting for me, and it's hard for me to connect with a story and character that changes 180 times in as many minutes  (ok, slight exaggeration.)

Maybe that's why I don't mind the length of Best Years of Our Lives - the story's all told within a few months of when the soldiers return. It doesn't have that  "What ? But they just started university and now they're experiencing middle-aged angst ?" syndrome so many so-called epics have.

Anyway, point made, I'd better get out myself before this post becomes an epic.

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Probably a lot of people around here don't go to see all the superhero and Star Wars and other fantasy movies like I still routinely do. I've noticed a number of these are getting really bloated and posterior-numbing in their running time. That last Avengers movie was like 2:35. Ready Player One clocked in at about 2:20. Solo I've forgotten the running time, but I bet it was more than 2:10. All of these movies could have been cut back to two hours or a little less without missing anything plotwise at all.

I would show a little more restraint with some of the classics. Generally, I would like to see most of them whittled down to two hours, but I would definitely look at them on a case-by-case basis. Curiously, some of the epics, I really only dig the early parts of them. Dr. Zhivago, I love about the first 90 or 100 minutes while we're still in the decadent Tsarist era, but I often turn it off after that. Lawrence of Arabia is very, very strong in the first third and the final third: we could probably do a little editing to the middle third. Same with Gone with the Wind, which I love up till about the part Atlanta burns and then again when Scarlett and Rhett get married. Some of the part in between could probably be cut. Best Years of Our Lives, however, I wouldn't cut a minute.

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It depends on the film.

Some films over 2 hours, even more than 3 hours, are masterpieces. My favorite film is 1 hour 47 minutes long and there are others about 90 minutes that are just fine. Why do these films work? Because they don't adhere to some dumb arbitrary time limit. They are perfectly constructed, such that if any of them were longer or shorter, they wouldn't be nearly as good.

And then there are some films that are waaaay too long or waaaay too short. They either drag forever or they aren't fleshed out because they are bad, hollow films. Just an idea that the scriptwriters and/or the director never got to work.

The 2-hour limit or 100-page limit is just a generic, bad idea. It probably works on average, but then again, the average film or script ain't that good.

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6 hours ago, MovieCollectorOH said:

Here's a spackling knife, so you can separate yourself from the couch. 

And here's a vault pole, so slayton can get over himself.  ?

1330098659.jpg

But seriously:  A movie should be just as long as the story it needs to tell--Any good story has legs, and ask Mr. Lincoln how long those should be.  A movie like Seven Samurai is three and a half hours long and feels like an hour, while some comedies are an hour and a half and feel like three...Like Al said, time is relative.

Back during the fever-pitch hype just before the first Harry Potter movie came out, movie analysts hoping for a big flop at this point in the "script" pointed out that, gasp, it now beat Chitty/Bang and Mary Popppins as the longest 2-1/2+ hour "kids" film, would it backfire?  Would kids' patience give out, or would their brains explode?  (Or their bladders?)  Had the movie's hubris finally taken the mania one step too far, and was about to kill the franchise overnight?...I think history has since answered those questions, and made them sound just as ridiculous.  Certainly nobody's bothered to ask them since.

To be generous, I will say that yes, we got an entire HOUR of Sherman Bros. songs before anything remotely plot-related happens in Chitty, but that was more the fault of the producer and the songwriters than the film structure. 

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I find it interesting that a lot of people mentioned The Best Years of Our Lives.  My personal thought has long been that most movies over 2:30 (not two hours flat) could do with at least some paring down (although not necessarily to 2:30), and that The Best Years of Our Lives is one of the very few exceptions.

I'm also reminded of the Alfred Hitchcock quote: "The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder."

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9 hours ago, slaytonf said:

After that, no matter how good the movie, it starts to wear.  Anything more is egotism on the part of the filmmaker (I am waiting to see a director's cut that's actually shorter that the original release.)

The director's cut of Picnic at Hanging Rock is 7 minutes shorter than the original release.

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10 hours ago, Zea said:

Do you really think more than 1-1/2 hours or 1 hour could have been lopped off of "Lawrence Of Arabia", "Dr. Zhivago", "Gone With The Wind", "All Quiet On The Western Front" or chunks taken out of the original "Star Wars"?

Even "To Kill A Mockingbird" went 10 or 15 minutes over that 2hr limit. I don't think I could stand a second of that movie being cut. 

Sure there are plenty of stinkers or marginal movies out there that could stand a firm editing hand.  And others that would actually benefit from a good cutting in the right places. But certain classics deserve the time needed not just to tell a story, but for the audience to savor the nuances of the technical aspects and visual creations imagined and brought to life by a brilliant director seeking to further enhance a story. Sometimes only time can accomplish that.

 

Absolutely.  And you can add in Exodus, The Ten Commandments, Patton and others.  I have these and other long movies on DVD and don't watch them because they are too long.  Fast Forward and stopping and returning later don't help.  Just the thought of how long the movie is turns me off.

Maybe you can endure it for the first time ever seen, but after that you begin to see long sections of verbosity, filler, overly long visual inputs, etc.  As the educational dictum says, the mind cannot absorb what the butt cannot endure.

It is a question of the producer, director and screen writers being too enamored with their "product" to see how much better it would be if reduced to about two hours.

Incidentally, this also applies to many books.  Much over 300 pages and it becomes all about the author's ability to sling words rather than tell a story.

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9 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Don't you really like The Best Years of Our Lives?

Personally, there are dozens of movies over two hours that I like. If a movie is really good, it doesn't matter how long it is. 

Now I know why I never watch that movie and found it boring the first time I did. 2 hours and 52 minutes.

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12 hours ago, slaytonf said:

This thread was prompted by the following parenthesis by Dargo in another thread:

(...supposedly his reason for this was that he felt the movie's running time of 221 freakin' minutes was already too damn long!!!)

 

I'll say up front, this has been my position for a long time.  Two hours is plenty of time to do justice to whatever material you cover.  After that, no matter how good the movie, it starts to wear.  Anything more is egotism on the part of the filmmaker (I am waiting to see a director's cut that's actually shorter that the original release.)

And if you really can't cover the matter in two hours, split the movie up, like Richard Lester did with the Musketeer movies.  Then you can make twice the money.

I'll offer Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as an example.  I really like this movie, and I watch it more than many better musicals.  But you know, it does start to tire toward the end, notwithstanding the wonderful coda of Potts and Scrumptious driving off into the sunset sky.  And if it gets tiring for me, what would it be like for a child, who doesn't have the same mental stamina I have?  The movie I think would definitely benefit by being fifteen or so minutes shorter.

Are you a guy, Slayton?  I just went to your personal page and see you are not revealing such, but the time has now come to do so, since I cannot continue my argumentation without such information. You see, for many men, the lack of proper padding in their posteriors, makes it difficult to sit through films like "Gone With the Wind" in a theatre, even though their wife, girlfriend, paramour, friend or whatever has no problem whatsoever, since we are born with more provided tissue in that area. So...I am gonna guess you are male, since that would be the only problem that is making you so prickly on longer movie lengths.

Now you know, I almost always agree with you on everything but this just is anathema, to say a film can only be two hours long. This is like banning songs by Bob Dylan that go over the three minute mark for radio airplay. No, I cannot condone such a dictatorial statement, because I like movies like "Greed" and "Little Dorrit" and think you just need to get a nice, soft pillow to sit on when you watch such things.

Here I think is the problem. You have been watching "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" way too much and this has had a deleterious effect on your stamina, as you put it. No more films with Dick Van Dyke dancing around in them and singing, is my recommendation. Try it for a month, and see if you don't feel less enervated and tired and unable to see a longer than two hour classic on the big screen. No charge for my medical diagnosis, since I think of you as a good friend, no matter what sex you are. If you do turn out to be a female, then I shall be happy to pay for a nice down filled pillow for you next time you attend a showing of a lengthy classic like the "Berlin Alexanderplatz" film.

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1 hour ago, TheCid said:

Absolutely.  And you can add in Exodus, The Ten Commandments, Patton and others.  I have these and other long movies on DVD and don't watch them because they are too long.  Fast Forward and stopping and returning later don't help.  Just the thought of how long the movie is turns me off.

Maybe you can endure it for the first time ever seen, but after that you begin to see long sections of verbosity, filler, overly long visual inputs, etc.  As the educational dictum says, the mind cannot absorb what the butt cannot endure.

It is a question of the producer, director and screen writers being too enamored with their "product" to see how much better it would be if reduced to about two hours.

Incidentally, this also applies to many books.  Much over 300 pages and it becomes all about the author's ability to sling words rather than tell a story.

The movie "Gods and Kings" told the story of "The Ten Commandments" in 2 h 30 min.

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Anyone tried to watch the "Lord of The Rings" trilogy back to back? :o

 

The Fellowship of the Ring, 178 minutes theatrical, 208 minutes extended (228 with additional credits) The Two Towers, 179 minutes theatrical, 223 minutes extended (235 with additional credits) The Return of the King, 200 minutes theatrical, 251 minutes (263 with additional credits)

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In the original days of LaserDisc, they were 30 minutes per side. The disc rotated at a constant speed, making still frames awesome. Later, the discs were up to an hour per side. The laser, just like a CD, starts in the middle of the disc. As it moves outward, the disc size expands, the rotation speed slows.

Now we have dual layer DVDs, where both sides are on the same side.

My previous comment could be considered political, forcing this entire thread to off topic.

So, at what point do most films have an intermission?

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18 minutes ago, jimmymac71 said:

In the original days of LaserDisc, they were 30 minutes per side. The disc rotated at a constant speed, making still frames awesome. Later, the discs were up to an hour per side. The laser, just like a CD, starts in the middle of the disc. As it moves outward, the disc size expands, the rotation speed slows.

Now we have dual layer DVDs, where both sides are on the same side.

My previous comment could be considered political, forcing this entire thread to off topic.

So, at what point do most films have an intermission?

In the early days,  some theaters would have only one projector and an intermission was required to change reels.  Later on most theaters had two projectors and intermissions were not required but for films that exceeded 80 minutes or so theaters would have intermissions to increase spending at the concession stands. 

For films over 90 minutes,  I like an intermission and I wouldn't mind if TCM added some.   (but I'm the guy on the plane that you want to give the aisle seat to,  if you get my driff).

 

 

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54 minutes ago, jimmymac71 said:

In the original days of LaserDisc, they were 30 minutes per side. The disc rotated at a constant speed, making still frames awesome. Later, the discs were up to an hour per side. The laser, just like a CD, starts in the middle of the disc. As it moves outward, the disc size expands, the rotation speed slows.

Now we have dual layer DVDs, where both sides are on the same side.

My previous comment could be considered political, forcing this entire thread to off topic.

So, at what point do most films have an intermission?

About the playing time on Laserdisc, mine is a Sony MDP-650, plays both sides without removing the disc.

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18 minutes ago, hamradio said:

About the playing time on Laserdisc, mine is a Sony MDP-650, plays both sides without removing the disc.

I remember that.

My chiropractor doesn't want me sitting for longer than 30-40 minutes. So James is right. For whatever reason, parking our carcass for extended periods, isn't a great idea. I say carcass as TCM will **** anything else.

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It really depends on the movie. And how well your attention span is willing to extend itself.

I can watch THE SOUND OF MUSIC time and time again, without being aware of the time one bit. Likewise GONE WITH THE WIND, THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES and A STAR IS BORN (1954 version). I wouldn't sacrifice one second of any of these films.

On the other hand I'd say there are other movies, anywhere up to 2 1/2 hours to over 4 hours where you feel every second drag on. CLEOPATRA (1963 version), I will never EVER waste my time on again.

 

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26 minutes ago, jimmymac71 said:

I remember that.

My chiropractor doesn't want me sitting for longer than 30-40 minutes. So James is right. For whatever reason, parking our carcass for extended periods, isn't a great idea. I say carcass as TCM will **** anything else.

Sweetie, one should never allow their chiropractor to be the arbiter of what films they watch. They would never allow you to watch things like "Three on a Couch" or "The Fortune Cookie".

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