Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Is a longer film necessarily better?


Recommended Posts

I notice when I am perusing the selections on Neftlix that they have some shorter versions of films that are much longer in their unedited state. For example, RAINTREE COUNTY has been issued on a disc that runs 83 minutes, which is one-third the original length! (I'm afraid to see how they chopped it up. LOL)

 

And then there are those films that are just long and overblown, that are not cut or edited because they are untouchable classics, like GONE WITH THE WIND which clocks in at 224 minutes (238 minutes with overture, entr'acte and exit music).

 

The present restored version of Von Stroheim's GREED is 239 minutes, and it will air on TCM this fall. It has traditionally been issued in a 140-minute print. The director's cut was originally over ten hours long!

 

King Vidor's final film, WAR AND PEACE, based on Tolstoy's epic novel is 208 minutes.

 

The Encore Love channel will screen CLEOPATRA three times in September (you know, the one with Liz & Dick). Its running length is 244 minutes. Supposedly, Fox had toyed with the idea of releasing it in two separate two-hour installments...but that was not done.

 

More recently, DANCES WITH WOLVES was seen in theatres with a running time of 181 minutes. But the director's cut version assembled by Kevin Costner is actually 236 minutes.

 

The 2008 British drama BRIDESHEAD REVISITED is only 133 minutes, which is considerably short compared to the original television miniseries. The first, much more detailed version, aired as an eleven-episode serial in 1981, coming in at a total of 611 minutes (over ten hours...Von Stroheim was probably watching it in the afterlife).

 

I guess if you love the story, the characters, the actors, the visuals...the whole darn thing...you may want a film to last ten hours. But I don't think that's the norm. And I don't think that necessarily makes it a better flick.

 

Brideshead_revisited.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would alter the question to: "Is a longer film ever watchable?" Why would there be the assumption that it would be "better". This is definitely one of those times when "bigger is not better."

I cannot abide anything over 2 hours. There are many exceptions, of course, but to me, whether you're looking at it as entertainment or as an "art form", a film works best at that length -between 90 and 120 minutes. Beyond that they tend to become ponderous, overlong, overproduced, and overwrought.

 

Two examples of films which I find unbearably long -"fat" movies, as I call them - are two titles I've more or less "dissed" (sorry, fans of these movies) on these threads several times: *Gone with the Wind* and *Dr. Zhivago*. Part of my problem with them is, I dislike films that span many years in time. I guess it's "my" problem, but I find it jarring , almost disorienting, to find that 10 minutes of my time has covered 10 years of the movie's time. "What? ! They just got married ! Now they have 4 kids and they're getting divorced? ! "

 

As for *Brideshead Revisited*: I did not see the recent movie version of this Evelyn Waugh novel, but I did watch all 10 episodes of the British series when it came out in the 80s. To me it is not fair to compare it, to say, "Well, this is basically a 10-hour movie, what do you think?", because it was never made or intended to be watched like that, all 10 hours at once. It was meant to be watched once a week, one hour at a time, at which pace it worked very well.

 

I used to like to imitate Jeremy Irons' effete facial expression and voice, so young, so world-weary:

"Now is the time to talk of Julia."

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Aug 28, 2010 2:56 PM

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Aug 28, 2010 2:58 PM

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think making a film longer or shorter makes it better or worse it depends on the film. Sometimes I would rather watch a short film than a longer one because I don't have the patience but a lot of movies I really love are longer ones. But really it depends on the film.

 

I guess there are some things that could be cut from GWTW (although don't get me wrong I do love the movie). However I actually think the things you can see are added in the longer version of Greed are quite important.

 

As for War & Peace having read the novel I don't think that movie is long at all. In fact I wish it was longer. I wish instead of just making sequels/trilogies to blockbusters someone would make two part/three part films of Classic Novels in Hollywood so they can finally be done justice. Well I guess there are BBC Miniseries and some foreign films that do this. This is what should be done with Classic Novels because half the time Hollywood butchers the really epic/long ones because of length.

 

For example the best version I have seen of Les Miserables is the French 1934 version. It is close to 5 hours & puts the Hollywood films I have seen to shame. I also heard there is a much longer Russian version of War & Peace which I would love to see.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Can you tell me who 'they' are as in "I'm afraid to see how they chopped it up"?

 

I ask only because it is my understanding that there are legal restrictions with regards to who can edit a movie or that a third party has to get premission to edit.

 

I agree that longer doesn't mean better even if one is a big fan of a movie. But I do find different versions interesting. For example the two versions of The Big Sleep; one only played overseas to the troops during WWII and the one released in the USA after the war with more Bogie Bacall scenes because they got married while the film was held from release until the war was over. Now some scenes are duplicated (e.g. two different actresses play Eddie Mar's wife), and thus one has to pick one scene over the other but some scenes are unique to each version. I have always wondered if a new version that combined both versions (i.e. used some of the scenes that were cut from the WWII release) would be the best. But in this case this new version would only be about 10 minutes longer and the entire movie would still around 2 hours.

 

Anyhow I find the entire concept of what is a 'version' very interesting. On blogs or other threads it is common for people to get upset that 'they' messed with the 'original' version. But in some ways I question the paradigm of an original version. (i.e., is there really such a thing?). For example, even if the director's cut wasn't the original public release (what most would define as the 'original' shouldn't the director's cut be considered more 'original' than a version edited by studio hacks often without the director's full support?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course, there are many other longer films that can be mentioned in a thread such as this. Peter O'Toole seemed to have a knack for starring in big projects, from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA to DR. ZHIVAGO to THE LION IN WINTER to THE LAST EMPEROR. And those all won Oscars.

 

I agree that instead of getting three editions of THE MATRIX or BACK TO THE FUTURE, it would be nice if the art-house crowd was treated to an epic, multi-part series of films that did actual justice to lengthier, more absorbing novels. The Fox version of THE GRAPES OF WRATH is actually missing the entire last section of the book. It just ends with them on the road again, traveling to the next work station. Having Steinbeck's signature novel in truncated form is definitely an injustice, no matter how great Fonda, Darwell and John Ford are with the original.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree...I do think the director's cut is the definitive version. And some directors like Ridley Scott have the clout to get their versions released, as he did with BLADE RUNNER.

 

But then there are directors who tend to over-film (we won't mention names because there have been a few with each generation). Budgets run over, studio heads get panicky and it's scissor time, especially when the film doesn't score well with preview audiences. An extreme example: HEAVEN'S GATE (cut from 228 minutes to 149 minutes).

 

Heavens_gate_post.jpg

 

Interestingly, I watched PATHS OF GLORY today on the Encore Drama channel. Knowing what I do about Kubrick's later, much more elongated epics (like 2001 & 2010), I find it ironic that GLORY is told in only 87 minutes. Maybe that's a studio cut, and the director's version is longer. Does anyone know anything about the production of PATHS OF GLORY? It is definitely a story that could've been dragged out, with all sides of the court-martial played out to death. And the battle scenes in the beginning could've been staged to last longer. But I think the film, as it aired today, clips along at a good pace. It sort of leaves you wanting more. And I think that's why it gets such a strong reputation.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What do you feel about the Godfather 're-mix' where the story was told in a chronological order?

 

Now I enjoyed this more than the two separate #1 and #2 versions but I have been told I'm nuts. Some felt that the revised release was a crime!

Link to post
Share on other sites

If it brings a new market to the film, as a reworked package (with the director's consent/participation or the blessing of a deceased director's family) then I'm all for it. And fans of the original versions can seek those out. It's just another way to re-sell the project. Just like with James Cameron attempting to re-release TITANIC with 3-D elements or whatever it is he's planning to do to enhance it visually. I am sure that Cameron will include some new footage, especially of the flood scenes, and that will make it even longer.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=Kinokima wrote:}{quote}

 

> As for War & Peace having read the novel I don't think that movie is long at all. In fact I wish it was longer. I wish instead of just making sequels/trilogies to blockbusters someone would make two part/three part films of Classic Novels in Hollywood so they can finally be done justice. Well I guess there are BBC Miniseries and some foreign films that do this. This is what should be done with Classic Novels because half the time Hollywood butchers the really epic/long ones because of length.

>

> For example the best version I have seen of Les Miserables is the French 1934 version. It is close to 5 hours & puts the Hollywood films I have seen to shame. I also heard there is a much longer Russian version of War & Peace which I would love to see.

 

I have the 5-disc DVD of Bondarchuk's "War and Peace". It won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1968. Each of the first four discs is called a separate film and the film's copyrights span 1965-1967; I'm wondering if it was released back in the USSR in four installments and then dropped on the USA all at once in 1968 (puns intended).

 

No, I haven't gotten around to viewing it yet. Maybe subconsciously, I'm saving it for my retirement...I hope to live long enough to view the whole thing.

 

P.S. I also have Bertolucci's "1900" DVD waiting for me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=karlofffan wrote:}{quote}

 

>

> I have the 5-disc DVD of Bondarchuk's "War and Peace". It won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1968. Each of the first four discs is called a separate film and the film's copyrights span 1965-1967; I'm wondering if it was released back in the USSR in four installments and then dropped on the USA all at once in 1968 (puns intended).

>

> No, I haven't gotten around to viewing it yet. Maybe subconsciously, I'm saving it for my retirement...I hope to live long enough to view the whole thing.

>

> P.S. I also have Bertolucci's "1900" DVD waiting for me.

 

 

I am sure once you start watching it you would enjoy it very much. I have heard great things about it and wish I knew where to find it to rent. Out of curiosity have you read the book?

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=Kinokima wrote:}{quote}

 

> I am sure once you start watching it you would enjoy it very much. I have heard great things about it and wish I knew where to find it to rent. Out of curiosity have you read the book?

 

I read the book in the late '90's.

Link to post
Share on other sites

*Budgets run over, studio heads get panicky and it's scissor time, especially when the film doesn't score well with preview audiences. An extreme example: HEAVEN'S GATE (cut from 228 minutes to 149 minutes).*

 

*Heaven's Gate* at any length is still a lousy film. I saw the original cut that was pulled almost immediately. Vincent Canby described it as "tedious" and he wasn't joking. Roger Ebert wrote of it, ""The most scandalous cinematic waste I have ever seen, and remember, I've seen *Paint Your Wagon*." and he was right.

 

The next shorter version at 149 minutes made less sense and wasn't any better than the long version but just as stultifying with some scenes being reshuffled.

 

*Heaven's Gate* helped topple United Artists and was one of the major films that helped to change the industry from the director-oriented films of the 1970s to the blockbusters and sequel mania that still endures today.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=MyFavoriteFilms wrote:}{quote}

> I agree...I do think the director's cut is the definitive version.

 

I too think that the director should be able to determine the final cut of the film, and that is the film that should be released. When the director is forced to make cuts, and they are later allowed to restore what they wanted, usually to a successful film, well that is also a good thing. But, sometimes a film is recut, longer, and called the "director's cut," to make more money, either by a rerelease, a new DVD version, or both. I don't think this always adds to the artistry of the film.

 

> But then there are directors who tend to over-film (we won't mention names because there have been a few with each generation). Budgets run over, studio heads get panicky and it's scissor time, especially when the film doesn't score well with preview audiences. An extreme example: HEAVEN'S GATE (cut from 228 minutes to 149 minutes).

>

 

I have seen the 228m version of *Heaven's Gate* several times, and it is a wonderful film. I think it should actually be longer. There is too much skipped over in the last third, or so, of the film.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm reasonably sure that Paths of Glory is almost exactly the length Kubrick wanted it to be. I believe it was Douglas, not Kubrick, who pushed for a more downbeat ending. As for 2001 and The Shining Kubrick cut about 15 minutes from the first and an epilogue from the second. There are no signs that this missing footage is anywhere, or that he even had any interest in putting it back.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I like what you said about the shift away from director-based films to blockbuster (or more accurately, high concept) formula fare. But what's interesting is how directors during the high concept era flourished. Guys like Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis and James Cameron come to mind. They became household names just as much as Hitchcock and John Ford and directors did from bygone eras.

 

Looking ahead at TCM's schedule this fall, I can see that there's another lengthy film we have not discussed yet in this thread. That would be Griffith's BIRTH OF A NATION which runs 190 minutes. I am assuming that audiences nearly a century ago also viewed a three-hour version. So many motion pictures of that era were short films lucky to reach a running length of 30 minutes. I wonder what it was like for patrons back then to be given the chance to go and spend such an extraordinary length of time watching just one film. Of course, with a director like Griffith, it was expected that he would keep raising the bar and create masterpieces.

 

birth_of_nation.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I have mentioned in other threads that my favorite film of all time is Merchant Ivory's MR. & MRS. BRIDGE. I have read the two novels by Evan S. Connell (Mr. Bridge is the first one; and appropriately, the second title is called Mrs. Bridge). But I remember that when I read Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's screenplay for this film, I was surprised to discover that the first twenty to thirty pages were thrown out. The actual movie starts a bit later into her script. And everything from that point is exactly on screen as she has written it. I have always been curious as to whether or not the earlier scenes were filmed and wound up on the editing room floor because Miramax wanted a shorter film, or if these cuts were made by James Ivory before photography was underway.

 

It is possible that HEAVEN'S GATE had a very good script, before all the trouble began.

Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=MyFavoriteFilms wrote:}{quote}

> I agree that instead of getting three editions of THE MATRIX or BACK TO THE FUTURE, it would be nice if the art-house crowd was treated to an epic, multi-part series of films that did actual justice to lengthier, more absorbing novels.

 

I agree, the extended narrative is fertile territory that more filmmakers really should take advantage of.

 

We do have Berlin Alexanderplatz, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 14 part series based on Alfred Doblin's novel. It's superior to the book and worth seeing at least once in its entirety (it's one of my favorite films.) Ingmar Bergman contributed Scenes From a Marriage and Fanny & Alexander. All three began as TV films but showings in theaters have become increasingly prevalent (and in the cases of Bergman, almost standardized.)

 

Krzysztof Kieslowski's Decalogue is like a filmed collection of short stories. It's also from the TV domain but it has been considered on lists of the "greatest films." I'll accept TV movies or series if they are on the level of the best films. On that token, I'll throw David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks out there, even if the latter half of season 2 is utterly terrible (due to Lynch and Frost's lack of involvement after the series' raison d'etre was resolved.) No American TV drama can touch the 18 episodes that are fully in the true spirit of the show. And Lynch later made the film Fire Walk With Me, which was intended to get Twin Peaks back to the pitch black heart of the concept the series had amazingly lost in the blink of an eye.

 

Then there's Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy and Truffaut's Antoine Doinel films.

 

It's good that The Last Emperor came up in this thread because there has been controversy over the "proper" length of that film. Bernardo Bertolucci considers the original, shorter theatrical cut the "director's cut."

 

As for the original subject: Longer isn't necessarily better but I don't mind length in general. It's all about what you do with what you have. If a shorter length is necessary, don't try to extend it but if the material warrants four hours, it's a must. If it needs to be even longer, I say go for it.

 

Edited by: JonasEB on Aug 29, 2010 3:09 AM

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wanted to add Abel Gance's name to this discussion.

 

7550.jpg

 

He directed the epic silent version of NAPOLEON. It runs 330 minutes (5 and a half hours) and uses many revolutionary filming techniques...some that have not been duplicated very much since 1927.

 

For more information, check the wiki page on this remarkable film:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napol?on_(1927_film)

Link to post
Share on other sites

This whole topic is why I love film noir...the movies tend to be shorter.

 

Just give me a dame and a PI or a good guy with morality issues, a murder, a loud mouth half-assed chief of police, some suspects, a little comedy....and a crime that is solved between 90 and 120 (140 minutes at the most) and I am happy.

 

I have to be in the "epic mood" to watch one. Which usually means there is inclement weather or I am under the weather. I watch more films longer than 20 minutes in the winter than any other time. Some films I have recorded to DVD will probably not get a viewing until December some time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have heard that in *The Quiet Man* there was a scene where Father is talking to his bookie. It was cut for time reasons. I would like to have seen that scene even if it did make the movie longer.

 

I read that 200 times as much film was shot for *2001* than what made it into the final cut. Most were assuredly multiple takes and different angles but there must also have been many scenes deleted.

 

It would be nice to have a contest where entrants are given all footage shot for a movie and they make versions for showing at fifteen minutes, ninety minutes, two hours and whatever they feel is best. I feel sorry for judges since story would become old very fast but the results would be very interesting.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, that's a marvelous idea. By the way, I think Ford fought Yates/Republic who wanted a film under 2 hours. The resulting film, at 129 minutes, is after many cuts were made and Ford insisted that any more would destroy the continuity of the story.

 

And speaking of extra left-out footage, I would love to see some bloopers/outtakes...because you know that even our classic movie stars made mistakes and cut-up on set while the camera was rolling. I wonder where all that footage is...?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
© 2021 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...