There are lots of questions being asked about modern films. One of the big ones is “Why is there a wage gap between the top paid actors and actresses?” The other biggie is, “When are they going to stop remaking films and producing sequels and just come up with some original ideas?” Another one we’re starting to hear more of us, “When did movies get so long?”
The question was asked with the release of Blade Runner 2049, which clocks in at two hours and 44 minutes. And it was echoed in numerous action movies before. It seems there’s a trend to push the three-hour mark. And it seems that movies might be getting longer to try to cram in as many CGI effects as possible, but longer features aren’t a new thing. Even the golden days of Old Hollywood had some lengthy movies.
The key thing is separating the movies that are worth our time and ones that aren’t. Because our time is precious and there are lots of things we could do in 180 minutes. That’s why we broke down the 17 extra-long movies that are actually worth your time to watch.
17. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
Harry Potter fans were used to the books getting longer and longer, but the longest film was actually Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets. The follow up to Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone rang in at two hours and 54 minutes. Given that so many people went to see the movie at midnight, it made for a long evening/morning, but it was worth it. Really, every one of the Harry Potter movies is worth the long running time. The longer length meant more time we got to spend with Harry, Ron and Hermione.
16. Gone With The Wind
Gone with the Wind came out in 1939, but the film still appears on many top movie lists. Plus, it still holds a number of records. The epic masterpiece is literally almost twice the length of the average movie given that it is three hours and 58 minutes long. Really. However, trying to shorten it just wouldn’t be right. Once you see it, it’s difficult to imagine cutting the breathtaking scenery, costumes and the tale about Scarlett O’ Hara (Vivien Leigh), Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) and Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland).
15. War and Peace
When the novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy was first published in 1867, it was an impressive 1,225 pages. Given the length of the book, we shouldn’t have been surprised to see that the 1956 film version ended up being three hours and 28 minutes. We’re not complaining about it because that meant we got to stare at the beautiful Natasha Rostova (Audrey Hepburn) and the dashing Count Pierre Bezukhov (Henry Fonda) and Andrei Bolkonsky (Mel Ferrer). The story has even been expanded into miniseries, but you will want to watch the 50s movie without a bathroom break. It’s that good.
14. The Godfather Part I
The Godfather is one of those classic movies that is always brought up when film buffs get into deep conversations. It’s iconic thanks to the way it gave cinematic life to Mario Puzo‘s mob drama novel of the same name. We get that mob dramas might not exactly be your cup of tea, but this one stars Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone and Al Pacino as Michael Corleone. What’s more, it’s not the brawling, shooting, yelling movie that you’re thinking. There is definitely drama over those two hours and 58 minutes, but it’s on so many levels. Its cinematography is also captivating.
13. My Fair Lady
We’re not sure whether it was intentional or not, but Audrey Hepburn ended up in a number of lengthy classics. In 1964, she starred as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady alongside Rex Harrison as phonetics professor Henry Higgins. This one is especially noteworthy because it was a musical. With its two hour and 55 minute run time, it was like watching a proper live musical, but without the intermission or the uncomfortable chairs.
There was a version of Ben-Hur from 2016 that lasted for 2 hours and 30 minutes, but the one that’s worth your time is the original from 1959. It starred Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur and Stephen Boyd as his brother Messala. The epic historical drama unfolds over three hours and 44 minutes which makes it considerably longer than the remake. However, it snagged a staggering 11 Oscar wins. We cannot say that about the 2016 version. Not even close.
11. The Greatest Story Ever Told
Would you expect a movie with the title The Greatest Story Ever Told to be summed up in 92 minutes? That’s how long crappy romantic comedies are. The 1965 American epic was actually 4 hours and 20 minutes in length. If you’re curious about what the story is about, it’s a retelling of the story of Jesus Christ from the Nativity through the Resurrection. It starred Max Von Sydow as Jesus and Charlton Heston as John the Baptist. You can see why it ended up being so long, can’t you?
There have been a lot of different versions of Hamlet. Nothing could ever touch the original play written by William Shakespeare that was first performed in 1609. That being said, the 1996 film still deserves recognition in its own right thanks to the superb acting from Kenneth Branagh as Hamlet, Kate Winslet as Ophelia, Julie Christie as Gertrude and Robin Williams as Osric. We had plenty of time to enjoy their amazing performances because the movie was four hours and 20 minutes.
9. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
All of the Lord of the Rings movies were long. In fact, they were all significantly over three hours. The longest of them all was 2002’s Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers which was 3 hours and 55 minutes long. Obviously, we needed a lot of time to see Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), Samwise Gamgee (Sean Asin) et al continue on their quest, but it also meant that we got to enjoy Orlando Bloom serving up major hotness and #hairspiration in that long, blond Legolas wig.
8. The Godfather Part II
Just when we thought that 1972’s The Godfather Part I set a new record for lengthy mob movies, we had the followup in 1974, the aptly named The Godfather Part II. It extended the time (and the drama) by clocking in at three hours and 20 minutes. What can we say? The drama between the Corleone family just couldn’t be shortened to fit into a movie that was a 110 minutes long. It just wouldn’t have been right.
It seems that every decade has a few three hour (or more) movies that are worth watching. One of the longer films of the 1990s worth watching was JFK. The 1991 film had a slew of incredible actors including Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Bacon. Even if you’ve read a lot of literature about the Kennedys, you will be interested in the full three hours and 26 minutes of the drama which looks at the investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
6. The Wolf Of Wall Street
At three hours, The Wolf Of Wall Street is one of the shorter long movies on the list. Are we going to complain about 180 minutes of Leonardo DiCaprio? Absolutely not. We’re not going to complain about 180 minutes of a Martin Scorsese film, either. In fact, we doubt we’re alone in saying that we wish the film was longer. It’s so wrong, but it’s so right.
5. The Ten Commandments
If we were talking about one commandment, a movie that was a 108 minutes probably would have been sufficient. But, a movie that was called The Ten Commandments deserved to have an epic run time that suited its epic title. The 1956 movie ended up being four hours long, which is definitely an impressive length. You could read a novel in that time, but instead we suggest you go and watch the biblical film produced, directed, and narrated by Cecil B. DeMille.
Everybody loves to talk about Elizabeth Taylor‘s flawless costumes and makeup in Cleopatra, but what is sometimes missed is the movie’s impressive length. The 1963 film was five hours and 30 minutes long. No, that isn’t a typo. It seems that the tale with Cleopatra, Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) and Mark Anthony (Richard Burton) flew by and people were so caught up with the story that they didn’t comprehend quite how long it was.
3. Lawrence of Arabia
You should have noticed a trend now with historical dramas often having long run times which supports them being called “epics.” Take Lawrence of Arabia for instance. The 1962 film starring Peter O’Toole as T. E. Lawrence and Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali ended up being three hours and 48 minutes. This isn’t a movie that was dragged out just for the sake of it. Watch it on a lazy Sunday afternoon and you’ll see what we mean.
Avatar is one of the longest movies in recent cinema. The 2009 film ended up being two hours and 42 minutes (which now seems short in comparison to the others) and its length was talked about as much as the blue-skinned Na’vi who live in Pandora. It was directed by James Cameron, who also produced the lengthy Titanic film. We shall see if Avatar 2, which is rumored to be coming out in 2020, will beat the original’s running time.
There are a lot of people who paid to go see Titanic in the theater multiple times. You could say that they were getting their money’s worth because the movie was three hours and 15 minutes and they charged the same admission price as movies half of that. However, no one would sit through a film that was alright just because it offered good ticket value. The story of Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is one of the greatest love stories in all of cinema. Why else do you think people still want Kate and Leo to end up together IRL?