Believe me, I LOVE a good historical epic. Love ’em a lot. But most of them are films you can enthusiastically watch once, and never return to again. This is the case with a lot of ’em, and a lot of other assorted ‘long’ movies, but there are a special selection of movies that are AT LEAST 3 hours long that I can watch over and over and over, and possibly never get tired of them. And here they are, in order of how many times I’ve seen them.
The Best of Youth (2003)
This high-spirited, epic Italian drama is a literal lifetime spread out through six hours of pure bliss. Please do not be turned off by the runtime; this is a brilliant, insanely watchable and gripping family drama; to quote Roger Ebert: “The film is six hours long but it is also six hours deep.” An unforgettable film I will never regret watching. View Count: 1, but I plan to buy it soon and then watch it over and over.
I know it’s going too far to call this “the best movie of all time.” That’s an impossible statement to make, so I’m not going to venture to make it, but Krzysztof Kieslowski’s 10-hour Dekalog (conveniently sliced into ten equal pieces) is pretty damn close. It deals with pretty much all the themes, emotions and basic crises of the human condition, and it does so beautifully. A masterful, must-see epic, if ever there was one. Read my review. View Count: 1 (Be fair! I only saw it for the first time a month ago!)
Though there is dispute whether this is a documentary or a film, Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah is the most powerful, full, emotionally visceral film about the Holocaust ever made. At a whopping nine hours, some will undoubtedly be bored, but Lanzmann’s movie is, for me, anything but boring. He provides interviews with those both directly and indirectly involved in the mass murder of the Jews, and provides haunting looks at some of the places these atrocities occured. Chilling; epic; a masterpiece. View Count: 2.
Fanny and Alexander (1983)
Ingmar Bergman’s magnificent 3-hour (or 5-hour, depending on which version you’re watching) masterwork is a brilliant, beautiful, astounding work of art. Sven Nykvist’s cinematography makes every image look like a fantastic, colourful painting, beautifully directed by an amazing Bergman at the height (and end) of his theatrical career. Jeez, I’m running out of adjectives. View Count: 2
Of all the brilliant epics David Lean directed, the only one that really hooked me and made me fall in love with it was Lawrence of Arabia. Crossing the 3 and a half hour mark, it may be long, but it sure is beautiful. The stunning images of the Sahara Desert combined with the sheer will of Peter O’Toole’s T.E. Lawrence combine to make a fantastic, riveting movie. View Count: 2.
Lars von Trier has made many films that have very divided opinion, and the one with the most divided is probably Dogville. It seems half the audience hate this fantastic 3-hour drama about social mistreatment, cruelty, and the ultimate price of letting everything go. If you’ve seen it, then make sure you visit this page and leave a comment rating it out of 10 by June 24, 2011. Anyway, it’s a fantastic (but debatable) movie that I absolutely love. View Count: 3.
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Stanley Kubrick’s longest film is actually 3 hours long, and often forgotten about when Kubrick’s name and filmography is mentioned. However, it is one of his best films, a fantastic epic about the lifetime of a young man (Ryan O’Neal) who ascends to royalty in the 19th century by fighting and cheating his way to the top. Beautifully lit, this scenically marvellous and emotionally riveting (particularly within the gripping last hour) film is sadly underrated. View Count: 4.
The Godfather, Parts I and II (1972, 1974)
Both of these films, which together total over six hours, are absolutely enthralling, brilliant masterpieces from Francis Ford Coppola that revolutionized and revitalized a mafia/crime drama genre, undoubtedly inspiring such classic directors as Martin Scorsese and Brian DePalma. Not to mention I can watch them over and over and over without ever getting tired. View Count: 6.
Inland Empire (2006)
I seem to be the only person who loves this movie enough to say it is perfect. David Lynch’s 3-hour masterpiece is a very inaccessible but still hugely enthralling delve into the unusual, darker side of humanity. A seemingly senseless, plotless series of scenes, Inland Empire actually has a bustling, multi-layered plot which is extremely difficult to decode, probably the reason I’ve watched it so many times. It’s really a film that needs to be seen to be believed, and I don’t like to throw that phrase around. View Count: 8.
If you read my blog you probably know this is my favourite movie of all time, and that is fair enough reason to watch it 19 times. That’s right, NINETEEN! I’ve watched this 187 minute labyrinth of emotions almost twenty times in its entirety, and I never, never, NEVER get tired of it. I’ve written a very long essay on it (which I plan to post to the site soon enough, pending further editing), and forced friends to watch it more times than they care for. Even if you don’t love this movie, as I’m certainly not expecting you to, you have to admit it has serious emotional power, and it is a testament to the brutal, strong ability of Paul Thomas Anderson, a man who was BORN to be behind the camera. Affects me in the same manner each and every time, and was arguably the film that fuelled my love for cinema. View Count: 19.
What are some awfully long movies you love to watch? What about ones you think are too long? Not long enough? Seen any of the movies above and have something you’d like to say? Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.
It’s a shame films don’t have them any more. Some say they’re out of date, but I believe they’re part of what made the cinematic experience in the 50s and 60s (particularly in David Lean films) the best, even though I wasn’t alive in that era. I’m talking about overtures, a fragment of film scores which seem to have escaped us. Some of you might remember when you went to the cinemas a while back and they had that really, blaring triumphant music, before the film had even started. That’s what I’m talking about. Here are five memorable overtures — not necessarily the best, but ones that spring to mind — when I think of those great themes.
1: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
In David Lean’s best movie, we are greeted with the fantastic, epic tale of war and peace that spans an amazing timeline. From breathtaking cinematography to amazing acting and everything in between, it’s impossible not to rejoice when we hear or see the first few frames of this magnificent movie.
2: Ben-Hur (1959)
I have a lot of admiration for the incomprehensible effort that went into the making of this movie, and although it’s not one of my favourites, it sure is beautiful to look at, and a success in my book. And the opening… sublime.
3: The Ten Commandments (1956)
When it comes to historical epics, even if you have an admittedly sub-par movie, as I feel this is, at least you’re likely to have a great soundtrack, and this is certainly no exception.
4: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)
Though when many people think of the music at the start of this Kubrick classic, they think of it’s fantastic, epic opening to the tune of Also Sprach Zarathustra, that, technically, is not the film’s overture. The real overture comes before it, but in the interest of sound and satisfaction, I’ll include a clip from that memorable opening scene instead.
5: Dancer in the Dark (2001)
Ah… You’ve got to admire Lars von Trier for putting in an awesome overture for his film long after they had died out. Perhaps the most epic of them all, the amazing emotion I feel when listening to this track will always stay with me.
So those are my choices, now… what’s yours?
What overtures do you cherish every time you hear their notes? What do you think of my choices? Leave a comment and lemme know what you think.
Thanks for reading.