Friday, 16 June 2017

The 2 Hour Film Dilemma

(Castaway directed by Robert Zemeckis. Image found at:

Now, we've all been there, you're all ready to start sifting through Netflix with your friends or partner when the dreaded 'so what do you wanna watch?' question makes its inevitable return. You're left uncertain, wondering what the others around you fancy, is there a compromise or something everyone is feeling? You stumble across a Django Unchained or Watchmen and think aha! I've been meaning to watch this or one of your group does and the rest follow suit, you've heard all good things so it just makes sense, but wait... It's over two hours long and, for some reason, this sets of alarm bells.

Do I have the time? Can I actually commit to this? if you're with someone is there more chance they'll zone out and scroll through social media mid-film? The two hour film panic is a bit of a parasite, especially if you're not on your own, any sign of doubt and it's done, that idea is out the window, there's no hope for it let's keep scrolling for another half hour and then decide on something you've all seen before and trust.

I certainly am guilty of having done this, and let's be honest, you probably are too at one point or another. The difference that extra twenty minutes makes, pushing a film from one hour forty to two hours is annoyingly off-putting to a lot of viewers. In most cases, because it's more cinema than flick. As a viewer, you are actually being asked to engage and sometimes, understandably, you want to stick a film on and disengage for the most part. Longer films are more likely to have more substance and it's often that when a director is let to run free - think Tarantino or The Coen Brothers - that a film will be longer than two hours because the direction is packed with a specific message or theme that is unravelled and displayed through different techniques and details. Whereas a lot of big budget blockbusters, where a director is drafted into a project rather than their own idea, a studio or such limits them and cuts things to appeal to a larger more generalised audience.

(Django Unchained directed by Quentin Tarantino. Image found at:

I'm not saying a film less than two hours can't be good, not even a little, short films can have just as much impact as a 3 hour behemoth. It's the thought of a film being tailored to the masses instead of an individual's idea being completely supported by a studio and marketing team. Thankfully we're seeing more big studios put faith in their directors, consider Marvel Studios allowing Ryan Coogler to very swiftly address the origin story in Black Panther (as he revealed) to get right into the new story-line. Don't get me wrong I love comic books and character origin stories but seeing something brand new is always exciting.

So, next time you're standing at the foot of the mountain that is the two hour film dilemma, roll the dice, show some faith and stick your phone on silent (as if most of us don't have it permanently on silent anyway) but you know what I mean. Commitment is hard, but trust the process and you'll likely be thankful for it and may find a new favourite film or cult classic that you've finally realised just why it is a cult classic.

Are there any films over two hours that you're putting off? Or even a film you had put off, finally watched and were really blown away by? Please do let me know in the comments below!

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