Friday, 18 April 2014

How Long Is Too Long?

How long is too long?

When compiling the book “Worst Movie Ever”, I read through an enormous amount of 1* film reviews.  Films are loved and loathed for many different reasons – acting, story, look, message etc.
One of the most common reasons for disliking a film was length.  Some reviewers complain about length and its relationship with boredom, others bemoan about how the time spent watching could have been spent doing something more worthwhile. 
Let's have a question.  Without looking, answer this question – Which Star Wars movie is the longest?

I would guess that you chose a movie from the prequels.

I was asked this question in a pub quiz once and I chose The Phantom Menace.  The answer is Attack of the Clones (142 minutes).  I was so sure I was right, I checked as soon as got home from the pub.  What surprised me most was that Return of the Jedi is only two minutes shorter than The Phantom Menace. I would have thought that there was at least half an hour between the two.

Unscientific test

Aim: To find out the answer to the question “How Long is too long?”

Method: I will only use films listed in the IMDb Top 250.  Starting with number one “The Shawshank Redemption” at 142 minutes.  I will look at the user reviews that “Hated” the movie.  Using the first ten listed, I will record any complaints about the length of the movie.  After that, I will continue through the list until I find a film which is about ten minutes shorter (132 minutes).  Each film will be scored as a percentage and I will carry on until a film scores 0%.

The Shawshank Redemption 142mins – 20% mentions length

One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest 133mins – 10%

Star Wars: A New Hope 121mins – 0%

As you can see by my completely unscientific research, two hours is the magic time.  Any longer and you risk the wrath of the 1* reviewer. 

Fact File
Longest film in the top 20 – Seven Samurai (207mins) – 80% 1* Reviews mention length
Shortest film in the top 20 – 12 Angry Men (96mins) – 0% 1* Reviews mention length
Average length (156minutes 45seconds)

Unfortunately, I was unable to include any movies about “length” in the trial.  However, for those who are interested.  Boogie Nights (155mins) was slightly shorter than the average length although Hedwig and the Angry Inch (95mins) was much shorter.

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