The LONGEST picture show; SCREEN CHAT; Epic trend is growing.
MODERN cinema is in danger of becoming a real pain in the butt.
For there’s a growing trend for longer movies – and cinema
seats have rarely been noted for their comfort.
This week sees the release of Oliver Stone’s Nixon, yet
another production for which we’re expected to keep our seats
rooted to the cinema’s for a ludicrous three hours. At 192 minutes,
it’s even longer than his monumental 190-minute JFK.
Also on general release just now are Martin Scorsese’s Casino,
Claude Lelouch’s Les Miserables (both 177 mins) and Michael
Mann’s Heat (172 mins).
Sure, long movies are nothing new. As far back as 1927, Abel
Gance’s Napoleon ran to over six hours. And even JFK is over in a
flash compared to 1992’s Heimat, a German epic which, at 25 hours,
32 minutes, is the longest film ever screened.
But, in general, a decent picture used to last no more than 100
minutes. Now it’s a rare film that doesn’t limp into at least
a third hour.
Time was when film-makers had to pack a movie full of spectacle to
justify epic length.
Films like Gone With The Wind (222 mins) kept audiences agog at the
time and gave pretty full value for their money.
But it seems modern ‘t know how to KISS
audiences. Instead of Keeping It Simple, Stupid, they simply keep going
until they run out of film or money.
An explosion of egos – both directors’ and stars’ – has
much to do with this, as they equate length with importance.
The studios appear to have no control over Stone, Scorsese, Kevin
Costner (230-minute “special” edition of Dances With Wolves),
Mel Gibson (Braveheart, 177 mins) and others.
Indulged and pampered, these directors are out of control. Instead
of telling stories clearly and concisely, today’s films ramble.
It’s no surprise our attention does the same.
Soon we’re wondering not what the hero will get up to next but
why they don’t make luminous watch dials any more and why we
didn’t get a bigger carton of popcorn?
Although they say Hollywood is obsessed with money, long movies
make little economic sense. The longer the film, the more expensive it
is both to make and to print copies for cinemas.
On top of that, it is less likely to take as much money as a
successful shorter film. A 90-minute pic can get six showings a day,
compared with just three for a three-hour marathon. Twice the length,
half the revenue.
On top of everything else, mammoth films usually have extremely
inconvenient screening times.
It’s nigh-on impossible to meet up with mates for a drink, see
a three- hour movie and eat in one session – unless you want to meet the
milkman on your way home.
Alfred Hitchcock, one of the wisest people ever to work in
Hollywood, once said: “The length of a film should be directly
related to the endurance of the human bladder.”
Perhaps today’s directors have people to go to the bathroom
Let’s strike a blow for shorter films. Let’s send a clear
message to Hollywood by voting with our increasingly sore bums to
boycott longer movies.
Let’s tell them we won’t stand for it. Or, rather, we
won’t sit for it.