These cinematic masterpieces with mammoth running times would ordinarily be too long for our wandering attention spans, but are now the perfect accompaniment to long days and nights in self-isolation.
Running time: 450 mins
The epic of all epics, this Hungarian art drama film directed by Béla Tarr runs for an unfathomable seven hours. Shot in black-and-white, it follows a prophet-like figure who returns to a rundown village. It’s a marathon worth enduring though for the thought-provoking space between the imagery.
Running time: 330 mins
This ambitious silent film, renowned for its groundbreaking camerawork and editing, portrays the early life of French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte. The original ran at more than 9 hours – which was long even for the genre and its notoriously long cuts. Its more modest five-hour rework by Kevin Brownlow is more digestible, just.
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Running time: 251 mins
How many previous failed attempts have you endured trying to watch this cinematic behemoth all the way through? Focusing for just over 4 hours is no mean feat but it’s worth sticking with Sergio Leone’s last feature which tells of a brutal, baffling chronicle of gangsters in New York’s Lower East Side.
Running time: 248 minutes
Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Rex Harrison’s performances are certainly pros to this four-hour-and-eight minutes of movie gold. It was the year’s highest-grossing film and it claimed four Academy Awards despite some criticism for historical inaccuracies.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Running time: 221 Minutes
This 10 time (yes 10!) Oscar-winning cinematic classic was directed by Victor Fleming. Back in the day when it was first screened it would run with its own overture, intermission, musical pause, and exit music – now that’s a day at the movies. With its complex characterization and a strong cast, all entangled in one of the most romantic tales of all time, it is worth every microsecond of its three-and-a-half-hour running time.
Running time: 212 minutes
This mammoth historical drama film was directed by William Wyler, produced by Sam Zimbalist, and featured Charlton Heston as the title character. It absolutely dominated the Oscars the year of its release – not least for that unmatched nine-minute chariot race scene. Worth watching for the enthralling musical score, too.
Scorsese’s most recent cinematic statement will for the most part pass quickly. It follows hitman Frank Sheeran as he looks back at the secrets he kept as a loyal member of the Bufalino crime family in this acclaimed film. If you have another 23 minutes (ah-hem!) to spare after the movie, join director Martin Scorsese as he sits down with stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci for an intimate, intriguing look inside the movie in “The Irishman: In Conversation”.
Malcolm X (1992)
Running time: 200 minutes
Spike Lee’s sixth movie, based on the 1965 autobiography co-written by Malcolm and future Roots creator Alex Haley. Denzel Washington took an Oscar-nomination for his incredible performance of the African-American activist’s time on Earth. A historic cinematic masterclass means the three hours are well spent.
The Godfather Part II (1974)
Running time: 200 Minutes
The masterpiece gangster movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola and serving as both a prequel and a sequel to 1972,’s original “The Godfather,” “Part 2” has gone down in cinematic history. Starring Al Pacino-as-Michael Corleone and Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone, this 3 plus hour enthraller is still considered one of the all time greats.
Running time: 189 mins
Through chance, human action, past history and divine intervention, an eclectic cast of characters weave and warps through each other’s lives in this masterstroke by director Paul Thomas Anderson. The stellar cast of Jeremy Blackman, Tom Cruise, and Julianne Moore alone are enough to keep us hooked for over three hours.