Do you know much time you need to watch the longest Hollywood films ever made? Well, it depends on how many of these movies you indulge in, but if we sum up the hours on this compilation, you’ll need over an entire day to just get through half of them. While there are experimental films that run for several days straight, we decided to stay within a reasonable limit, focusing on Hollywood productions instead. In some cases, critiques have pegged the movies too long for their own good, but in others, the story is so complex and rich that it requires time to tell it adequately (this is especially the case with book adaptations).
Some people might think that long movies are a bore, but in fact, several of the films on this list are also included amongst the 15 highest grossing movies ever, which we recounted in a previous article. So, let’s take a look at the longest Hollywood films ever made and why they required extensive screen time.
8. The Godfather Part II (1974)
Duration: 200 minutes
The prequel (The Godfather) to this epic mafia crime piece was already 178 minutes long, but director Francis Ford Coppola decided that this part of Don Vito Corleone and his gangster family’s life needed more dramatic pauses and moments of tension. In spite of its length, this is considered one of the best novel adaptations (written by Mario Puzo) in history and it broke box office records back in 1974.
7. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Duration: 201 minutes
Considering the length of each Lord of the Rings book, it’s to be expected that the movies would be long. The concluding episode of Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy trilogy is also the longest of the films and was awarded with 11 Oscars and $1 billion in box office earnings worldwide. Although the movie crosses the three-hour limit, the action and drama sequences don’t allow it to become boring at any point.
6. Ben Hur (1959)
Duration: 212 minutes
Another case of a well-written script, “Ben Hur” manages to keep your attention at every twist and turn. This historical drama tells the tale of a wealthy Jewish prince who is captured and turned into a slave by the Romans. Many years later he discovers he has been betrayed by a close friend, at which point the plot intensifies, leading to the famous 9-minute-long chariot race.
5. The Ten Commandments (1956)
Duration: 220 minutes
Considered one of the highest grossing movies of all time, Cecil DeMille did a wonderful job at readapting the story of Moses as his last great masterpiece. The three hours and 40 minutes of extravagant entertainment earned the director an Oscar and millions of fans.
4. Gone with the Wind (1939)
Duration: 221 minutes
When romance, war, chance, and destiny are the elements in play for a story you know in for a long ride. And this was exactly the case with Victor Fleming’s adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, which earned him 10 Oscars and critical acclaim. Today, this movie is still epic and Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler’s love story remains one of the best ever told.
3. Hamlet (1996)
Duration: 242 minutes
It’s common that director’s cut out certain scenes from the movie when it’s a book adaptation, but Kenneth Branagh wasn’t having any of that nonsense and decided to create a 4 hour long rendition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with him in the lead role. While some critiques say the movie is too long, others praise the dedication and precision shown in his longest movie.
2. Cleopatra (1963)
Duration: 248 minutes
We’ve seen so far that historical dramas take need extensive time to be adequately told, and Cleopatra was no different. Situated in Ancient Egypt, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Rex Harrison take on the lead roles and demonstrate what life was like thousands of years ago. The length and efforts paid off, as it became the highest grossing movie of the year and received 4 Academy Awards.
1. Nymphomaniac (2014)
Duration: 325 minutes
The newest and longest Hollywood film ever made hit the global film festivals last year and left movie critiques in awe. Lars von Trier’s creation focuses on the trauma of the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac Joe, who is picked up and brought into shelter by the elderly, highly educated and intellectual bachelor Seligman. Featuring some of the most explicit sex and violence scene ever released, the story is so detailed that it was split into two parts (volume I and volume II) after its original screening. However, the entirety of the film is told by chapters, making it easier for the viewers to follow Joe’s complex and twisted story.