Entertainment The 10 Best Movies That Are Over Three Hours Long, Ranked
Best Action Movies of All Time in the English Language, Ranked
The action genre is a difficult one to master, but these mostly American films have become iconic as some of the best movies ever made of their kind.Then again, these lists can be extremely useful. They shine a light on titles which more people should see, bringing exposure to a variety of films while also validating the opinions of others and celebrating the truly worthy. Now, it's tricky to list the best action films ever made, because few films solely exist within one single genre, most of all action.
It's nice to find yourself with time to spare. Some might have more free time than others, some may find themselves with periods of their lives less busy than others, while some may only find time to spare on occasion. It depends on your stage in life and profession, but with the holiday season approaching, it's fair to assume that most will have more free time around the holiday period (at least once inevitable family gatherings are over).
For those with time to watch more movies than usual, the 10 following films - ranked from long to longest - may well be worthy candidates for your holiday watchlist. Each is well over three hours in length, meaning they're all fairly serious time commitments. They're rewarding films, though, and ideal for patient viewers who don't mind a long sit, and are already familiar with some of the more famous epic films out there.
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'Magnolia' (1999) - 189 minutes
is a filmmaker who's no stranger to making movies that easily exceed two hours, but even by his standards, is long. It also needs to be, given it follows a large group of characters whose lives sometimes intersect in unexpected ways throughout the film, culminating with an unusual climax that (sort of) brings them all together.
It makes for a powerful viewing experience though, with numerous great actors all giving fantastic performances. It's easy to get wrapped up in the lives of the flawed and deeply human characters in Magnolia, making it an intimate drama on a scene-to-scene basis, contrasted with an epic runtime and a very large cast.
'The Right Stuff' (1983) - 193 minutes
The Right Stuff is far from your usual historical drama/biographical film. It tells the real-life story of the Mercury Seven, who were USA's original astronauts, and participated in various dangerous missions (including early space travel) in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
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It's a film that tackles this story in a way that's anything but dry or boring. It moves well for a movie that exceeds three hours, and has plenty of thrills, humor, and memorable characters to keep viewers engaged. It was unfortunately a, but was critically acclaimed, and is well-deserving of the praise it's garnered in the years since 1983.
'Heaven's Gate' (1980) - 219 minutes
While Heaven's Gate might not be for everyone,, and one not deserving of all the criticism it got at the time of its release. It's a truly epic western at over three-and-a-half hours, and follows violent clashes between wealthy cattle farmers and immigrants who live in poverty - based on real events that happened during the Johnson County War near the end of the 19th century.
It's an overstuffed movie for sure, working in large-scale battle scenes, almost too many characters, and even a romance subplot, for good measure. But the size of the film and its ambition is awe-inspiring, and even if not all the elements work flawlessly, there are still enough moments of greatness to make.
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'A Brighter Summer Day' (1991) - 237 minutes
Before making what was likely his masterpiece in 2000 - Yi Yi - Edward Yang directed another film that's considered one of the greatest of the past few decades by film aficionados. It's a coming-of-age/crime film called A Brighter Summer Day, and is set in Taiwan during the 1960s, focusing on a young boy and the obstacles that come his way when it comes to growing up, maintaining friendships, and falling in love.
It's a slow but beautiful film, and ends up an immensely rewarding experience for those willing to stick with it for almost four hours. It's a film that's easy to fall into, due to the way it looks and feels, and because of how immersive it is. There's a version that's closer to three hours, but the four-hour cut is seen as the director's definitive version.
'Hamlet' (1996) - 242 minutes
Most film versions of Hamlet - one of's most famous works, and maybe his definitive tragedy - aren't anywhere near four hours long. This is because most adaptations of Hamlet edit the lengthy play down to make the runtime more digestible. However, director/actor/world's #1 Shakespeare fan, , wanted to do no such thing with his 1996 adaptation.
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As such, this film version of the Prince of Denmark's quest for revenge is a long but impressive Shakespeare adaptation. Those who aren't crazy about Shakespeare might want to seek out a shorter version that cuts out certain subplots and characters, but for those who want to see all of Hamlet on-screen, this 1996 movie is where it's at.
'Les Misérables' (1934) - 281 minutes
There are a surprisingly large number ofadaptations, but this almost five-hour French . Like Branagh's Hamlet, it uses its huge runtime to its advantage, and is able to include more from Victor Hugo's famed novel than any other film adaptation (the miniseries versions, of course, end up being able to cover a similar amount of material).
Given the novel is split up into parts, so too is this film, with three in total. It might be best to watch each 90-ish minute chunk on its own, with breaks in between, because otherwise it might become overwhelming. On the other hand, for viewers who like to get sucked into an ambitious epic and find it more immersive to watch a huge story like this play out all in one go, it is still possible to watch all of 1934's Les Misérables in an afternoon.
'1900' (1976) - 317 minutes
Featuring an impressive cast led by a youngand Gérard Depardieu, 1900 is a gigantic film. Given it shows the lives of its two main characters across multiple decades - beginning chronologically in the year 1900 - it does arguably need all the time it can get, to tell its ambitious story.
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Beyond the 5+ hour runtime, it's also challenging for its content and themes. It has some brutal violence and other uncomfortable scenes, and also details the horrors of fascism in unflinching detail. Getting through it really does give you the feeling of having watched someone's entire life play out, and as challenging as the movie is, it's undeniably the length that contributes to this sense of seeing a lifetime condensed into one film.
'Near Death' (1989) - 358 minutes
Near Death is a confronting and difficult documentary by design. Simply put, it tackles death in unflinching detail, and follows doctors at an intensive care unit, the patients they care for who are near death, and the struggles the family members of the patients feel as the end approaches.
It's probably only going to appeal to hardened documentary fans, and even then, the six-hour runtime and subject matter could still deter some of them. However those brave enough to face Near Death may find themselves coming out the other side of this staggeringly long documentary about death with a new outlook on life.
'The Best of Youth' (2003) - 366 minutes
Some might classify The Best of Youth as a miniseries rather than a film, given it was conceived as a miniseries, but was released theatrically in certain markets, and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. As such, it rides the line between miniseries and movie, but however you classify it and watch it, one thing's for certain: it's very long.
The Best of Youth uses its six-hour runtime to cover the lives of a family over many years, starting in 1966 and ending in 2003. It's an emotional and very well-made drama about love and life, and is surprisingly easy to get immersed in. It feels long, but not in a bad or boring way, and is up there with the best 3+ hour movies of the 21st century so far.
'Satantango' (1994) - 432 minutes
Satantango has a reputation for being one of the longest (and most difficult) films of all time. It's a grueling watch by design, having a very slow-paced story centering on a small, rundown village in Hungary, with its population facing great hardships after the fall of Communism.
Even by the standards of movies exceeding three hours, it's a challenging watch. Still, many who've finished the film hail it as a masterpiece, and on, it's ranked among the top 50 best movies of all time. Curious viewers do need to know what they're getting into beforehand, but it's undeniably a film that - once watched - can't be forgotten.
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