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Perfect movie length?

Discussion in 'Film, Video, Television and Theatre' started by beer good, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. beer good

    beer good Well-Known Member

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    I read this article:

    Is The Hobbit simply too long? | Film | guardian.co.uk

    A friend of mine has a theory, that the perfect movie length is indeed exactly 96 minutes, and that the quality of any movie can be determined sight unseen simply by looking at how far it is from that perfect length. In other words, a 98-minute movie and 94-minute one will be roughly as good, and a 192-minute movie might just as well never have been made. I'm not sure I agree with him, but ... is there such a thing as an ideal length for a movie? What's the longest movie you can comfortably sit through? Is 160 minutes 2001: A Space Odyssey comparable to 160 minutes Pirates Of The Caribbean? Have you ever, even once, come away from a movie thinking "Man, if only it had been 30 minutes longer?"

    (Well, The Thin Red Line should have been around 6 hours, IMO...)
     
  2. eclair

    eclair Member

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    Length should not be a limitation to storytelling, but then I like to punish myself by watching films like The Deluge and Fanny & Alexander in their entirety.

    The 96 minute theory is probably not far off, generally though it's difficult to pin down a single number to be representative of the ideal, especially if one considers film to be a form of art. Art plays with ideals.

    I have not come away from a film hoping it was longer specifically but there have been vague feelings of incompleteness where it felt as if the film had ended before it was finished. Steve McQueen's Shame comes to mind.
     
  3. Will

    Will Active Member

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    If it's a film like The English Patient, I don't mind it veering far from the 96 min length. King Kong was a three-hour plus that was actually fairly tolerable in the cinema.

    I actually came away from The Hours wishing it was 30 mins shorter; though I really enjoyed it, I was bursting for the loo BAD and was in agony that last hour BADLY - but it was so damn watchable...
     
  4. zen

    zen New Member

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    as long as it is not filled with plain waffle, any length movie is fine by me.. i rarely go to the cinema anyway, prefer to watch movies at home close to all amenities and my own remote.
     
  5. Peder

    Peder Well-Known Member

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    Same rule for movies as for books:
    Start telling the story; when finished, stop.
     
    Karen C likes this.
  6. sparkchaser

    sparkchaser Administrator and Stuntman Staff Member

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    Pretty much this.
     
  7. beer good

    beer good Well-Known Member

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    Well, of course, that should go without saying.

    Personally I tend to agree that the perfect length of a movie is the length it takes to do what the movie intends - that may be under 90 minutes, or over 3. (Or more - I really wish someone would discover a copy of the complete 10-hour cut of Greed.) If the story takes 4 hours to tell, the story takes 4 hours to tell.

    I'll reserve my doubts about whether 160 pages of The Hobbit can really be stretched into 9 hours, though. There is a rather pointless trend among "genre" movies these days of not only turning them into trilogies, but splitting the last movie into two movies simply to double the box office. (Breaking Dawn being the most ridiculous example - I swear, there's about 10 minutes of plot in the entire first movie. Which, OK, is still more than there was in the first three combined.) As long as you can wow the audience with special effects, padding a movie to twice the length is easy. What happens when audiences become jaded and realise that all the big-budget spectacles are really just short films stretched to fit a format? Can anyone remember what happened in the middle hour of The Dark Knight?
     
  8. sparkchaser

    sparkchaser Administrator and Stuntman Staff Member

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    I should re-read The Hobbit.

    Amazon.de tells me the paperback version I just bought is 320 pages.
     
  9. Landslide

    Landslide Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, for sure
    Mine is 254 pages long. I'm still skeptical that the book has enough material for almost 9 hours of film though...
     
  10. Hedwig

    Hedwig Member

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    AFAIK they have incorporated some of the stories from the Silmarillion and other LotR-related Tolkien works.

    Any movie length is fine with me if the movies is good. If it's not, even 60 minutes can be punishing.
     
  11. sparkchaser

    sparkchaser Administrator and Stuntman Staff Member

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    You know, if they incorporated all the songs in The Hobbit, the movie would be 12-15 hours long. That being said, the singing in the preview gave me sivers.
     
  12. eclair

    eclair Member

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    Part of the fun of reading Tolkien was skipping over all the songs.

    I wish it were not so but the audience for genre films are so invested in those worlds, length or additional films are boons regardless of plot.

    Horror films might be more bound up in length than others, too short affects tension and too long impacts suspension of disbelief. Then again, a few nights ago I was at an all night marathon screening of the Alien films, it was great fun and makes me think a really long horror film could work.
     
  13. Conscious Bob

    Conscious Bob Well-Known Member

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    Bit ironic really considering how much of the story of it's predecessor, The Lord of The Rings, was cut to fit into the movies. Tom Bombadil, who he?
     
  14. beer good

    beer good Well-Known Member

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    That's a good point. I own a... lot of horror movies, and off the top of my head I can only come up with a handful that are over 2 hours, and even fewer that are well over that, and most of those predate the "modern" horror movie - Dawn Of The Dead, The Shining, Rosemary's Baby, the extended cut of Aliens... The trick isn't just to maintain tension for 2 1/2 hours, of course, but also that almost all horror movies of the past 30 years are extremely formulaic. Ever notice that 99% of all mainstream horror movies have the first (or second, if there's a teaser) appearance by the monster almost exactly at the 23-minute mark? At that pace, you're pretty much guaranteed to be down to one character to face the monster around the 92-minute mark.
     
  15. zen

    zen New Member

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    and then there is Dune.. yes i have the released version, and the three hour version, wasn't there a longer version too? 6 hours? something like that.. i would take it too. :D but then, i liked Lynch's Dune. been too long since i have watched it.

    the only problem i have with this first Hobbit movie, is that i can't watch the rest of it yet.
     
  16. eclair

    eclair Member

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    ^You could just wait the three or so years until all the Hobbits have been released and then watch them in one go.

    beer good, removing length limitations could potentially counter the formulaic?
    The 23 minutes thing is very true, and funny.
     
  17. zen

    zen New Member

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    eclair - i will watch all three as they come out, and all three together as well. :D just as i did for LOTR. and buy the extended versions of course.. lol..
     
  18. sparkchaser

    sparkchaser Administrator and Stuntman Staff Member

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    I liked Lynch's Dune as well.

    Is there really a 6 hour extended version?
     
  19. zen

    zen New Member

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    i have googled.. some say yes, others say it is legend only, myth.. :)
     
  20. beer good

    beer good Well-Known Member

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    IIRC, there was one 3-hour cut and one 6-hour cut that never actually made it past the workprint phase, so they were never actually finished movies. Lynch originally cut it to 3 hours, which the studio thought was too long, so they ordered him to cut it down to 2 hours. That's the theatrical release. Without his knowledge, the studio then cut it back up to 3 hours, a cut that Lynch made them credit to the ever-productive Mr Alan Smithee.

    For all the fuckaroundery of this, you have to admire a studio who's willing to hand a big-budget sci-fi romp to a director on the strength of two black-and-white arthouse pictures and tell him to go nuts on it.
     

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