Saving Private Ryan, King Kong, The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Batman Rises and the Ten Commandments. What do these movies all have in common?
They are LONG movies. The list could go on and I’m sure there are longer ones out there. This is just a brief list. However, can there be too much to a movie? Can a movie be too long? I listed the previous movies because they are long movies that I have sat through repeatedly and enjoyed every time. The thing about this list is that they all have a complete story to tell: they have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and they are able to keep the movie rolling at a momentum that doesn’t seem to last as long as the clock indicates.
However, back to the question: can a movie be too long?
The first movie that I remember sitting through wondering if it would ever end was Out of Africa. I am a huge Robert Redford fan, but this movie just drug on and on. Years later I watched The English Patient. This was yet another movie for me that I wondered if it was ever going to end. Neither of these were due to so much going on or too much of a story to tell, but rather long laborious stories. (Once again, my opinion. If you liked them, sorry… You had almost 3 hours to waste.)
My question arises because last week I watched Cloud Atlas: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, and the amazing talent goes on.
2 hours and 52 minutes of a movie. Sadly… Too much of a movie. This was truly one of the most confusing movies I can ever remember watching. It’s not like OoA or TEP which I mentioned above, where it just drug on like a sprinter in quicksand… Just the opposite: this was a very fast paced movie with a lot of action and going on constantly. However… There was just too much. The concept was reincarnation and how destiny could bring people back together time and time again. These are not concepts that I have any belief in, but I have seen the played out well in other movies. In this jumbled mess though We bounce all over the time continuum with the past, to present, to future, to way in the future. The problem was that the movie constantly bounced back and forth from one to another to another back and forward and back and then forward and then forward and then back back and then way forward…. Getting the idea? TOO MUCH into one movie. There were a lot of good ideas in Cloud Atlas: some neat visions and concepts. So many in fact this could have easily been a 2 part movie. However, it’s like directors Tyker and Wachowski only wanted to do one movie, so they just crammed it all in.
Luckily, some directors are smarter than that. Look at George Lucas. The man had a story he created for a movie and it had 9 chapters/sections to it. He was smart enough to know that his vision would be distorted and ruined if he tried to take all 9 and put them into 1 movie. So he took a step back, thought he would have his best shot at the center part of his story, and he created a world known as the Star Wars empire.
Later, the first three were told. Now… We look forward to the final 3 chapters to come. But he was smart enough to know when too much would ruin a movie. I wish the directors of Cloud Atlas were as smart: some really good ideas are lost and will never be appreciated because they tried to cram everything into one long movie.
If you are going to take 3 hours of my time telling me a story, make it interesting and make it understandable. A week later, I’m still trying to figure out what the Cloud Atlas was trying to portray.