The Never-Ending Story: Why Are Movies So Long These Days?
What do the epic films “The Godfather: Part II,” “Schindler’s List,” “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” “Titanic,” and “Pearl Harbor” all have in common? They are three hours long. Viewers are willing to sit for over 180 minutes to watch these classics because each one of these pictures is, as sophomore Ginny Reynolds said, “so good nobody would like to see a minute cut out.”
Today, motion pictures are undergoing a film revolution that is testing viewers’ endurance for how long they can stay in their seats. In 2012, there was an explosion of never-ending movies, with three-hour-long dramas, and two-and-a-half-hour-long comedies. Epics deserve their renown, but do these recent pictures such as “Skyfall,” “Lincoln,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” “This is 40,” and “The Hobbit” deserve the same amount of time on the screen?
The irony is that long movies are generally bad for business because theaters can’t show them as many times throughout the day. Also of note is that accomplished filmmakers with stellar reputations produce most of the long movies. These creators are successful because of their extraordinary vision. Once these visionaries earn their reputations, they are put on a pedestal and expected to produce nothing less than extraordinary films in the future. For example, the creators of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy – Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens – are praised for their brilliant pictures. However, once they similarly tried to produce “The Hobbit” with the same vision, they lost their audience’s high praise.
Junior Jay Kumar said, “I had been looking forward to ‘The Hobbit’ ever since Mr. Pope’s class back in the eighth grade, and was disappointed when it didn’t stay true to the story.” Junior Harrison Halberg said, “I was disappointed by the movie because it appeared obvious that the creators were exhausting the book into three parts to try and make as much of a profit as possible from the Lord of the Rings fan club. While the movie was good, they unnecessarily added to the story in order to stretch it out as long as possible, attempting to re-create another trilogy like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ which was so successful.” This attempt to re-create epic stories was also tested in “Les Miserables.” Sophomore Brittany Allen said, “I have seen the play twice already and it is one of my favorites. I was looking forward to the movie for months, but when I finally saw it I was disappointed because I couldn’t help comparing it to the play.”
However, it’s important to note that some of these recently released movies are worthy of their running times. Senior James Seaman said, “‘Django Unchained’ was three hours long, but it kept me glued to my seat and intrigued the entire time.” Freshman Zach Kaminsky said, “I thought ‘Lincoln’ was great, and I loved how it was designed to be specifically about Abraham Lincoln as a man. Steven Spielberg has done it again.”
Most people were able to endure these tiring, long movies because they were well done. However, when it comes to making comedies equally long, such as “This is 40,” the audience’s endurance was lost. Senior Lindsey Zwecker said, “‘This is 40’ was foul mouthed, and not even partially funny or compelling. I was definitely aware of how long I was in the theater — too long.”
It ultimately comes down to this question: Which of these movies is worthy of epic treatment, and which should be cut down? As junior Elizabeth Ratcliff said, “the more that epic movies are produced, the less I appreciate them, and their impact is diminished.”
By Sallie Hays, Staff Writer ’13