“Man, and I thought Lord of the Rings was too long…”
~American Film Critics
We like our movies like we like our sexual encounters—brief, anonymous, and preferably ending with you sobbing uncontrollably while watching Ryan Gosling kiss another woman. Whether we’re watching Nicholas Sparks play out his latest sexual fantasy of star-crossed lovers being separated for 50 years by dire circumstances only to die of cancer the day they’re supposed to meet again, or someone gave Michael Bay $150 million to be the pyrotechnic version of Bamm-Bamm Rubble, American films are the world’s primary source for laughter, entertainment, and taking a brief respite from our bleak, miserable lives to watch Brad Pitt casually eat something while pretending we’re his friend.
There was a time when epic sagas were the norm in Hollywood, which is why Ben-Hur is over three-and-a-half hours long, and also why most of us never saw Ben-Hur once we were informed that the film was 212 boobless minutes. Nowadays, we like our movies shorter, more action-packed, and Anne Hathaway naked-ier. Yes, we’ll sit through the occasional three hour opus, but that’s about as long as we’re able to physically sit still without our ADD kicking oh hey look there’s a bird. Besides, we can’t waste all our free time watching a single movie. We have things to do. There are bars literally just outside the theater, taunting us.
Yes, we know how to squeeze $200 million into a handy 90-minute package, but we’re America. We invented, perfected, and then perverted everything you know and love about modern cinema. Other countries don’t quite get the hint, which is why you see places like China making 14-hour films.
And that’s not even one of the ten longest films ever created. Since we at AFFotD are public servants, we’re going to save you the trouble of knowing which impossibly long films to avoid by listing off the ten films with the longest running time. And since we can’t imagine a world where people make day-long movies without something terrible and dark having happened in their childhood, we will also inform you what life-ruining tragedy must have happened to the countries of the world that would actually sit through these exercises in torture.
The Ten Longest Films Ever Made
Because if you’re going to stare at a movie screen for 14 hours, you’d better damn well be watching all the Die Hard movies.
When you hear about a film that airs literally for days at a time, it’s safe to assume two things. First of all, that shit isn’t happening in America. And secondly, it’s probably some experimental modern art bullshit. Thirdly, the nations that allowed that film to exist had something dark and twisted happen in their past. And fifthly, Americans aren’t super good at counting. Anyway, here are ten obnoxiously long movies and the horrible things that made the hosting countries do such an awful thing.
10- The Clock (2010): 24 hour run time
Originally Screened in London, England after England saw its grandmother naked in the bath
Christian Marclay is a Swiss-American visual artist and composer who once played a trick on England by making them sit around for a full day watching a fuckton of clocks. His initial claim to “that kind of fame that only exists at NYU parties where some T.A. is like, ‘oh have you seen the latest installation by…’ and everyone immediately claims they totally know who the T.A. is talking about because they don’t want to seem like they’re not part of the intellectual scene even though they have no idea who the guy is” was his tendency to take thrift shop records and manipulate them to make strange experimental sound collages.
Of course, there’s only so much fun to have in buying shitty vinyl records, cutting them in half, and gluing them together so you can play your Frankenstein musical monster in front of 15 Fordham grad students and three Brooklyn high schoolers who correctly assumed they weren’t going to get carded drinking the free wine the event is providing before you want to try something new, so Marclay went to work on making a 24 hour movie that consists of thousands of clips of clocks from hundreds of classic films.
So, the world was blessed with “The Clock.” Originally running for about a month at the White Cube in London, The Clock would play continuously all day for as long as whatever pretentious art museum was willing to host it, with thousands of sliced together scenes all centering on clocks. So, if there was a lingering shot of a clock showing “9:32” in Dial M For Murder, you bet your ass that brief clip will appear on the screen at 9:32. Basically, Christian Marclay tricked hundreds of people to stare at various clocks all day, and no one even punched him in the dick for his troubles.
9- 24 Hour Psycho (1993): 24 hour run time
Originally Screened in the United Kingdom after Scotland and England kissed once as a joke, like a little peck, ha ha, right, only England liked it way more than they expected they would and kind of have a thing for Scotland all of a sudden so now things are a little weird between them
24 Hour Psycho is exactly what it sounds like—the classic Alfred Hitchcock film, Psycho, for 24 hours. Of course, there’s more to it than just looping a film over and over again and calling it a movie, otherwise TBS would be on this list every year and it’d be called “24 Hour Christmas Story.” No, Scottish artist Douglas Gordon took Psycho and slowed it down so that it would show two frames every second, as opposed to the standard 24, which gives the film a runtime of exactly 1440 minutes, or 24 hours for those of you who are bad at math which, let’s be honest, is all of you, because America.
We’re not sure if this is more or less of a “fuck you” to the art world than The Clock, since that film actually took an obscene amount of effort to look at thousands of movies to find every film that’s ever thought about showing a clock, while 24 Hour Psycho was just some asshole playing a movie for a full day with the “super slow-mo” setting on. Though, hey, when you watch 24 Hour Psycho you get to see Janet Leigh get stabbed repeatedly in the shower over the course of like, probably forty five minutes, if that’s how you get your jollies, you sick English fucks.
8- **** (1967): 25 hour run time
Originally screened in the Wurlitzer Building in New York City because oh God we didn’t think America would actually appear on this list, now we feel bad, but don’t worry we’ve since demolished the building it was shown in
Well, if America was going to have the ignominious distinction of appearing on this list of pretentious, boring movies that are specifically designed to waste your time, it figures that Andy Warhol would be involved somehow. Unlike the previous entries in the list, **** (also known as “four-stars” like what a critic would give a movie, GET IT!?) was only shown once before it was cannibalized into dozens of shorter films, which honestly was probably for the best. It also wasn’t digitally recorded because, you know, 1967, so the screening of this film involved constantly swapping out 83 separate 33 minute reels of film that were 1200 feet in length because, you know, Andy Warhol.
The film has been referred to as “hard to decipher” which is one of the least surprising things we could imagine to hear about a 25 hour-long movie created by Andy Warhol. And we weren’t kidding about the building it was shown in being later demolished. That totally happened. That building was forever sullied and had to be destroyed. We’re totally okay with that.
7- The Longest Most Meaningless Movie in the World (1968): 48 hour run time
Originally Screened in the Drury Lane, London because one time England saw a body in the field, like, not to be too graphic but it had clearly been out there long enough for its eyes to basically melt into like, bowls of bug soup, but anyway, ever since then apparently they have to find ways to spend periods longer than a day staring at a goddamn film screen just to quiet the demons for half a second
We’ll give this one points for at least having an honest title. Directed and produced by Anthony Scott with the Swiss Film Centre in London, no footage was actually shot for the film, which held the title “the world’s longest film” for 19 years. It aired several times in 1968, 1969, and 1970, and consisted entirely of outtakes, commercials, strips of undeveloped film, newsreels and stock footage. Various segments included large portions being run upside down, in reverse, and at one point the same commercial repeated itself over and over for more than half an hour, which honestly sounds like something specifically designed to try to make people so agitated that their faces melt like a Nazi staring into the Ark of the Covenant. We’re not ruling out the possibility that Anthony Scott was an alien specifically sent to this planet to make 1960s British people kill themselves.
6- The Cure for Insomnia (1987): 87 hour run time
Originally screened in Chicago, Illinois because apparently we’re hypocritical monsters and we drink to dull the pain
Director John Henry Timmis IV, “eccentric” artist Lee Groban, and honestly way too many other people collaborated in 1987 to make the world’s longest film. They did this by having Groban read a 4,080 page poem he wrote while (God, we can only hope) he was on roughly all the drugs over the course of three and a half days. No, it wasn’t just an uninterrupted shot of Groban reading a poem, they would occasionally splice in clips of heavy metal videos and hard core porn, and thank God for that. At least if you somehow found yourself trapped in a room being forced to watch this as some sort of private hell, you’ll manage to see you some titties.
The film was played in its entirety at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago from January 31st to February 3rd, 1987. That means that people who willingly went to see this looked at a flyer that told them, flat out, that this movie will take 3 days to see, and they said, “Sure, I can go to that.” We made a flyer that, to the best of our knowledge, is the only way they could have gotten anyone to actually show up to the event.
Oh okay, yeah, we can totally see that working actually.
5- Matrojschka (2006): 95 hour run time
Originally screened in Frankfurt, Germany because the Germans do not know joy they only know sadness and maybe on the happiest days of their life they briefly recognize an emotion that most accurately can be called “content empathy” but otherwise there is just despair
Oh hi there Germany. We were wondering when you’d show up. Karin Hoerler is a German artist who probably specializes in looking at children with a terrifyingly steely gaze until they burst into tears. From April 23rd to April 28th of 2006, Hoerler screened Matrjoschka which is German for “we don’t like to translate non-English words” with nightly breaks from 1:00 AM to 6:00 AM. So, on the plus side, people watching it got a nice little 5 hour window to nap. On the downside, the film consists entirely of images and sequences slowly and imperceptibly changing for 95 fucking hours.
The film consisted of, not that you really care because why the fuck would you even dream of watching this movie, images of a boy riding a bicycle, a street, houses, garage, and the sky. So you basically spend each full day looking at a single damn picture, because you’re German and sad. Just so very sad. But hey, you guys, you can get it on DVD! Though the DVD just consists of the film in Windows Media Player format, because leave it to the Germans to make a 5700 minute movie that you can buy to watch on your Windows operating system.
4- Untitled #126 (Hickory) (2011): 120 hour run time
Originally screened in New York because we give up we’re terrible and we are so very sorry
In 2011, New York artist Josh Azzarella released a five day long “film” that’s devoted entirely to the six-and-a-half minute section of Wizard of Oz starting with Dorothy seeing the tornado and ending with her meeting Glinda the Good Witch. So it’s basically 24 hour Psycho, only so much slower and slow much worse, and blurry for hours on end during every scene change.
Here’s a link of a 15 minute preview. Don’t watch it. We had one of our interns watch the whole thing and when it was over, he just sort of wordlessly stood up, left the office, and went home to murder his family. Art!
3- Beijing 2003 (2004): 150 hour run time
Originally filmed in China and screened in Rotterdam because China’s marriage was ruined by their insistence that their wife make love to other men while they watched, and the Netherlands were the first to agree to it
This is the first film on this list that isn’t entirely experimental, which somehow makes it seem more boring than the other upsettingly long films in this list. Over the course of 16 days, Liang Ye, Yang Zhichao, and their driver known as “Wu” drove through every fucking street in Beijing filming everything they saw. Weiwei Ai then took the footage and put it together into a six day long testament to one of the most boring things you can film—driving silently. If we had to guess, Weiwei’s next film will probably be eight days of paint drying with a transcript that says “Hey, go fuck yourself” in calligraphic Mandarin. We’re not saying we’re glad that he was arrested and put under house arrest in 2011 for tax evasion, but you know.
2- Cinématon (1978-2013): 182 Hour run time
Originally screened in France because one time France paid for a prostitute, and when things progressed to a certain point they realized that the prostitute was a pre-op transvestite, and after a few minutes of deciding they just went along with it
French Director Gerard Courant did his best to justify every reason we hate the French. He essentially, from 1978 onward, has been filming silent three minute, 25 second vignettes. Over 2,700 of them. Each one is a random person expressing themselves on the themes of life, love and death. Mostly, it’s friends of Courant, though occasionally you get shit like Terry Gilliam of Monty Python eating a 100 Franc note and looking around really expressively, so that’s kinda cool, we guess. Not “sit through seven days of that shit” cool…or even “make it to the end of the 3 and a half minute video with the established comedian that we just linked you to” cool, but it’s something at least.
At least there’s a lot of variety in this one, but at the end of the day this also seems like a pretty obnoxious way to spend 35 years of your life. Though hey, if we’re going to have some artist waste their life for something no one is going to see, at least it happened to a Frenchman.
1- Modern Times Forever (Stora Esno Building, Helsinki) (2011): 240 hour run time
Originally screened in Finland because honestly we suspect they might have just been trying to summon some terrifying demon in the Stora Esno Building
A Danish artists group decided to make a 10-day long video, because if you call yourself an art collective instead of identifying a single director, it’s harder for websites to make fun of you for wasting everyone’s goddamn time. That said, Bjornstjern Reuter Christiansen, Jakob Fenger, and Rasmus Nielsen wasted everyone’s goddamn time.
The film porports to show the decay of the Stora Esno Building over the course of 35 years, “condensed” into 10 days of film. It was only shown once, just outside the very same decaying building they were filming which, dude, spoilers. All you have to do is look behind the screen and you see how the movie ends. What a rip off.
So remember, next time you complain about how long the second Hobbit movie is…well actually, no that’s way longer than it should be, Peter Jackson needs to learn some damn restraint. Oh, and also, at least you’ve never had to watch a movie that lasted multiple fucking days.
And if you have voluntarily sat through a movie that lasted multiple fucking days, kindly do us the favor of punching yourself in your stupid goddamn face. Please and thank you.