15 of the Empirically Most Boring Films of All Time
Boredom is underrated. We spend so much of our lives seeking other feelings that it’s easy to forget, being bored can be pretty nice. Peace is boring. Calm is boring. Safe is boring.
In fact, there is a genre, slow cinema, that is — well, imagine a tight 80-minute action-packed wham-bam slugfest packed with one-liners, then imagine the absolute opposite of that. Filmmakers like Béla Tarr, Lav Diaz and Ben Rivers make excellent ponderous films, employing incredibly long takes and minimal narratives, where it’s less about a story getting from A to B and more about contemplation and, yep, slowness. Hardly any of them have blooper reels.
But there are also films where the length is kind of the whole point, where nobody is necessarily expecting anyone to sit down and watch them from beginning to end — it’s as much about the impressiveness of seeing it through. There’s no such thing as a three-star 20-hour movie — if you’ve made a 20-hour movie, that’s a five-star effort even if it’s unwatchable.
A 21-Hour Drama! Without a Proper Ending!
At 21 hours, five minutes, Amra Ekta Cinema Banabo is the longest non-experimental film — i.e., a narrative, with its length defined by storytelling rather than being deliberately lengthy — ever made. According to the director, “the film doesn’t culminate.” GREAT!
A 35-Day Documentary! About Pedometer Manufacturing!
The longest film of any kind ever made, Logistics follows the production cycle of a pedometer in reverse, from purchase in Stockholm back to a factory in China, in real time. It is 857 hours — 35 days, 17 hours — long.
A 10-Day Film About a Building! That Feels Even Longer!
Modern Times Forever is a 240-hour movie showing a building in Helsinki, the Stora Enso building, deteriorating and collapsing over thousands of years. It was only screened once, projected onto the side of its star.
A 150-hour Art Film! About Roads! Lots of Them!
Ai Weiwei — an extraordinary artist in many ways — directed this 150-hour documentary by attaching a camera to a car and driving it down every road in central Beijing over the course of 16 days. It ends where it began. AWESOME!
207 Hours! Of One Dude’s Friends!
Cinématon took 31 years to make, and is 207 hours consisting of over 3,000 silent scenes, each three minutes and 25 seconds long, of a friend of director Gérard Courant doing whatever they want. One guy eats some money, one smokes a cigar. It’s eight days.
A 95-Hour Art Film! In a Now-Obscure Format! Silent!
Matrjoschka is a silent German film lasting 95 hours, in which one large image slowly, almost imperceptibly changes. It’s only available in — insanely — Windows Media Viewer format on a DVD.
A Month-Long Movie! With a Seven-Hour Trailer!
Ambiance, which is yet to be released, is a 30-day film by Swedish director Anders Weberg, intended to be screened once then destroyed. There’s a 72-minute trailer, or, if you have rocks in your head, a seven-hour one.
Ten Hours of Paint Drying! Literally! To Prove a Point!
Paint Drying is 607 minutes of exactly that, a film made in protest against the British Board of Film Classification, who require filmmakers to submit work to them to be approved for general release. The BBFC watched all 10 hours.
A Two-Hour Movie at 8 Percent Speed! That’s 24 Hours! And You Know the Ending!
24 Hour Psycho is an art installation: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho plays at two frames per second, taking 24 hours. 24 Hour Psycho Back and Forth and To and Fro is another: two projections of it, one forward, one reversed. ART!
Three-and-a-Half Days of Poetry! With a Bit of Metal and Porn!
The Cure for Insomnia is 87 hours of one 4,000-page poem being read out, occasionally interspersed with clips of porn and heavy metal videos. There is an ongoing search for existing copies — not to watch, just to have.
873 minutes of Talking About Bombs! Completely Explosion-Free!
The Journey is a 14-hour documentary featuring people from lots of countries talking — at length — about their understanding of nuclear weaponry. The five-disc DVD comes with a 339-page book, because of course it does.
Five Hours! An All-Star Cast! No Point!
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci — of Last Tango in Paris infamy — 1900 features Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Burt Lancaster and other 1970s A-listers, and lasts 317 minutes. Roger Ebert wrote: “It doesn’t seem to go anywhere.”
Fourteen Hours! Not Even the Director Saw It All!
Three days into the 10-day shoot of Crude Oil, a documentary about Mongolian oilfield workers, director Wang Bing got altitude sickness and had to leave. The planned 70-hour movie ended up at a mere 14 hours. Easy. You could do that in three weeks of lunch breaks.
Eight Hours! One Dude! No Clothes!
Sleep (2013) is eight one-hour takes of director Juha Lilja sleeping naked, made in tribute to Andy Warhol’s five-hour Sleep (1963) to demonstrate how much easier filmmaking had become — Warhol’s was a technical struggle, Lilja made his in his sleep.
808 Minutes! Not a Single Terminator!
Released on the same day as Terminator: Dark Fate and 11 hours longer than it, La Flor is six films in one, except the first four don’t have endings, or the last one a beginning. God damn it. God damn you all.