Length of a film certainly matters a lot. There are films that are glacially paced and run for over 3 hours but their narratives often demand such languid pacing. Some of the longest films ever made are also among the greatest of all time. Most of the films made by Andrei Tarkovsky, Bela Tarr, Sergio Leone have an average run time of about 150 minutes.
Films with long run times can be generally great experiences as they often help in more profound, deeper character explorations and chronicling epic stories covering a wide range of time periods. With all that said now, let’s take a look at the list of longest movies in the world. We made sure that the list consist of only good long movies. If you always had questions like what is the longest movie ever made or how long is the longest movie, this article is for you. Did you know what is the longest movie on Netflix?
15. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Francis Ford Coppola’s Shakespearean tragedy of an idealistic war hero who gets caught up in the family business and turns into a cold blooded mafia don is probably the most devastating character transformation ever depicted in cinema. Headed by an electrifying Al Pacino, the film’s smooth, fluid pace gradually sinks in as the film’s twin narrative format explores both sides of the story; the rise of Vito Corleone as a gangster and the fall of Michael as a human being. While some people prefer the much shorter original, it’s only in the more sophisticated sequel where the characters are thoroughly explored on a more profound level.
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14. Andrei Rublev (1966)
Among the many masterpieces Andrei Tarkovsky made in his career, ‘Andrei Rublev’ probably stands out as his most personal and emotional work. The film chronicles the life of a 15th century Russian icon painter who struggles with his own faith and identity in his home country, devastated by its complex political and cultural conflicts. With a run time of over 205 minutes, the film takes its time to build the story but like most Tarkovsky films, the pay off is incredible and the overall experience is way too profound to put into words. It’s the most painfully honest depiction of a time and society caught up in all its frailties and inner turmoils.
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13. Das Boot (1981)
Set in World War II, ‘Das Boot’ tells the story of a U-boat crew and depicts their struggles, inner conflicts, boredom and how they carry themselves forward as the absurd brutality of war begins to take a toll on them. The film is intensely raw and unflinchingly bold in its depiction of war and brings out the devastatingly human aspect of it. The soldiers aren’t portrayed as heroes. They are just normal men trying to defend and protect their country with what they best but the painful realities of a long futile battle gradually begin to consume them. There are several versions of the film but the original uncut version extends to run time of about 209 minutes.
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12. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
A 3 hour 45 minute film about a woman making meatloaf, peeling potatoes, going shopping, bathing and cleaning. Well, if you’re wondering what this is all about, I’ve just described the plot for Chantal Akerman’s revolutionary feminist masterpiece, ‘Jeanne Dielman’. Akerman doesn’t try to manipulate or gain sympathy for her character but instead forces you to observe the sheer mundanity of her existence and how, painfully and gradually, it wrecks her soul. Widely considered to be a landmark film of avant-garde cinema, ‘Jeanne Dielman’ is today widely regarded as one of the greatest feminist movies of all time.
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11. Seven Samurai (1954)
Arguably the greatest action film ever made, Akira Kurosawa’s game changing masterpiece runs for over 227 minutes but manages to keep you fully gripped throughout and not a single minute goes wasted. The film follows a veteran samurai and a group of farmers in a village who prepare for an epic battle with a pack of bandits who would come to steal their crops. Noted for its technical and storytelling innovations, ‘Seven Samurai’ features high octane action sequences and despite its age, comes off as more engrossing and entertaining than most action flicks that are being churned out these days. A generation of cinephiles may find it hard to see greatness in it as most of what’s groundbreaking in the film is now common in cinema. But it’s a film that deserves to be watched for its pathbreaking innovations and endless entertainment value.
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10. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Sergio Leone’s haunting masterpiece is a mosaic of childhood, dreams, nostalgia, love and guilt. Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather’ set the trend for the gangster genre with its highly stylized, glamorized portrayal of mafia dons but ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ takes a look at the people who aren’t talked about, people whose dreams and desires aren’t cared for. These are just ordinary men struggling to live, trying to cope up with the brutal realities of life. Leone explores the sheer brutality of gang violence and unlike Coppola’s revolutionary masterpiece, keeps the dons away and gives life and voice to those people who are heroes and villains of their own stories. People who could well be our fathers or grandfathers. The film was famously butchered by the studio and a shorter 139 minute version was released and received poor reviews from critics and performing miserably at the box office. The original 229 minute version continues to be rated as one of the greatest films ever made.
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9. The Travelling Players (1975)
Greek auteur Theo Angelopoulos was always fascinated by his country’s past and historical background and these were inherent elements in his cinema. ‘The Travelling Players’ is a masterwork which fully realizes Angelopoulos’ vision as a filmmaker and everything he strives to attain. Monumental in scope and ambition, its running time nearly touches the 4 hour mark, making it one of the longest movies ever made and Angelopoulos masterfully makes use of his gargantuan narrative, chronicling the lives of a group of theater actors through who witness the various political turmoils their beloved native country had to endure.
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8. A Bright Summer Day (1991)
Southeast Asian cinema often alienates me, culturally. There are many films I really love but there’s always an emotional distance that I just can’t seem to get through. However, Edward Yang’s ‘A Bright Summer Day’, despite my regular issues, managed to strike a chord with me for some strangely funny reason. The film tells the story of a conflict between two youth gangs in a neighborhood that culminates in devastatingly violent events. It explores themes of cultural identity, violence, sexuality, love and adolescence. The film is 237 minutes long but needless to say, it’s a profoundly devastating experience that you’re not likely to forget anytime soon.
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7. Mysteries of Lisbon (2011)
This Portuguese costume drama, noted for its run time of 272 minutes, was played as a mini-series segregated into 60 minutes episodes in many countries. Its sprawling narrative is replete with complex twists and turns, character ambiguities, flashback sequences, multiple narrators. The film almost works like an anatomy of storytelling and so beautifully manages to intertwine the various stories concerning different individuals going through various phases of life and struggling to deal with their own identities. Destiny plays a major role in the story and forms the central thematic aspect of the film. It’s gorgeously emotional, visually sumptuous and creates an aura so hauntingly beautiful that you just can’t get it out of your head.
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6. Fanny and Alexander (1982)
The great Ingmar Bergman had this ability to just penetrate into your psyche and touch upon the most personal and intimate secrets we tend to hide from ourselves. It’s almost cathartic in a sense that he just presents a stark naked version of who you are and what your existence means to the world around you. ‘Fanny and Alexander’ might just be the Swedish master’s magnum opus. The film basically revolves around two siblings and chronicles their lives as they struggle to cope up with the various tragedies that happen in life. It’s a sweeping tale that manages to encapsulate every single aspect of human life; hope, conflicts, tragedy, anguish and pain. Its devastating portrait of childhood would linger long in your minds like the power of witnessing a gorgeously textured painting. At 312 minutes, ‘Fanny and Alexander’ is not just one of the longest movies ever made but also a stunning work of art poured out straight from the heart of its filmmaker.
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5. 1900 (1976)
Bernardo Bertolucci is perhaps known for his highly provocative, disturbing movies, the most famous one being the highly controversial ‘Last Tango in Paris’. But it now seems forgotten that he also made an epic historical drama starring Robert De Niro back in 1976, four years after his devastating erotic drama shook the world of cinema with controversy. The sprawling epic, set in Emilia, chronicles the lives of two childhood friends who struggle to cope up with the various political that took place in 20th century. The film had different versions and was released in two parts in many countries while an edited 247 minute was released in the US. The original run time is around 317 minutes.
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4. La Commune (Paris, 1871)
Peter Watkins’ distinctively authentic, documentary style drama depicts the struggles of the Parisian working class of the 19th century. The film features a cast that includes mostly non-professional actors who thoroughly researched the subject to prepare for their roles as most new very little to nothing about the Paris Commune. Their performances bring in the much demanding sense of realism to the film, giving it a more genuine, authentic quality. The film mostly consists of interviews of the working class and bourgeouise covered on television and its original run time exceeds 340 minutes. ‘La Commune’ is today regarded as one of the most important films ever made.
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3. The Best of Youth (2003)
Like most Italian epics, ‘The Best of Youth’ follows a monumental narrative structure, documenting the various socio-political changes Italy went through during the mid-late twentieth century. There’s a parallel drawn with the story of a family which includes two brothers who bare witness to the country’s radical political and cultural shifts for more than four decades. The film was originally planned out as a mini TV series but was later made as a film and sent to the Cannes Film Festival where it won the Un Certain Regard award. Its massive run time (366 minutes!) may intimidate you but trust me, this is quite an overwhelming experience.
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2. Satantango (1994)
Hungarian auteur Bela Tarr is known for his fluid, languid technique that offers gazes on the most mundane of objects and moments. One could almost say that Tarr is a darker and more cynical version of Andrei Tarkovsky. His films are noted for their long run time and relaxed pacing and his vision was fully realized with this 7 hour masterpiece that captures a desolate village and the devastated mundane lives of its inhabitants. In typical Tarr fashion, shots linger for much longer that you’d expect, challenging you to observe and feel every frame and the kind of emotion it encompasses. It’s hauntingly beautiful, devastatingly truthful and darkly comic.
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1. The Human Condition (1959-1961)
Masaki Kobayashi’s searing epic was released as a trilogy between 1959 and 1961 in Japan. Considered to be one of the longest fiction films ever made, it runs for over 9 hours and thirty-nine minutes making it the longest movie in Kobayashi’s career. The trilogy, which includes the movies ‘No Greater Love’, ‘Road to Eternity’ and ‘A Soldier’s Prayer’, centers around the life of a Japanese socialist who tries to cope up with the difficulties of living in a totalitarian World War II era Japan. It’s an astonishingly ambitious attempt that sweeps you off with its raw humanity and its heartbreakingly compassionate depiction of the human condition.
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