The Crazy Stories Behind Ten of the Longest Movies Ever

Think back to the late 1990s when Titanic hit theaters. It had a runtime longer than three hours, and everybody who watched it (and loved it) was amazed at how in-depth and deep the film went on so many minor and secondary storylines. The esteemed Leonardo DiCaprio got himself into the headlines once again in 2023 with another super-long flick, too, when Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon hit theaters. That film also had a runtime longer than three hours, and again, it both enticed and divided moviegoers with its long, meandering tale.

But with all due respect to those two films and the many, many more blockbusters, dramas, and superhero flicks alike that run three hours or longer, that’s nothing. Across the world, many filmmakers have made movies that are way, way, way longer than three hours.

For various reasons, films produced in the recent and distant past alike have run over not just many hours but also days. And in this list, we’ll reveal the crazy stories of ten of those such films. These ten unique movies have insanely long runtimes and are infamous for the commitment needed to watch them all the way through. So grab a big (really, really big) bowl of popcorn and read on…

Related: Top 10 Experimental Films to Watch Right Now

10 Logistics (51,420 Minutes)

Directed by Erika Magnusson and Daniel Andersson, 2012’s groundbreaking movie Logistics was created to follow the production cycle of one single pedometer. The filmmakers purchased the pedometer at a store, and then they showed the step-by-step process of its creation and shipping in reverse chronological order. From the store where it was purchased all the way back to the factory where it was manufactured, Logistics shows everything that goes into the making of a simple, low-tech product available for mass consumption and retail purchase.

The movie includes the pedometer actually being shipped halfway around the world from its point of manufacture in Asia to its eventual sale to Magnusson and Andersson. Thus, that’s why the movie is such a long slog; it is made in real-time and depicts the actual time and resources it takes to ship a product like that across the open ocean.

Over 51,420 minutes (or about 35 days and 17 hours), you can watch how business is done and how retail goods are produced, delivered, and sold in the modern era. [1]

9 Modern Times Forever (14,400 Minutes)

Produced and released in 2011, Modern Times Forever was made by Finnish filmmakers Bjornstjerne Reuter Christiansen, Jakob Fenger, and Rasmus Nielsen. The point of the film is to showcase the slow and relentless decay of an iconic building in the middle of the city of Helsinki, Finland. Known as the “Sugar Cube,” the building in question is the historic Stora Enso headquarters building in downtown Helsinki. First constructed in 1962, the building has since been a key part of Helsinki’s culture and Finland’s business climate.

The film was made to show how a building like that decays over a very long period of time. So the Finnish filmmakers decided that 14,400 minutes of run time (or exactly ten days in total) was appropriate to get their message about construction decay across to their viewers, as well as their belief in the roles of time and impermanence in public spaces.

And if that wasn’t enough on its own, the movie’s premiere was actually projected onto a gigantic screen on the side of the Stora Enso building itself when it was first released, allowing viewers to see the film in real time on the building on which it was focused. How meta![2]

8 Cinématon (12,420 Minutes)

French filmmaker Gérard Courant began to compile three-minute-long vignettes of friends, celebrities, and random people around France in the late 1970s. Over the next three decades, he spliced together those slice-of-life looks at people’s daily existence into a very, very long movie that he eventually named Cinématon.

The rule for the footage was very simple: People were allowed to do whatever they wanted when they were filmed for their 3 minutes and 25 seconds of glory. The small showcase was meant to be a window into their lives and personalities. Taken together, it was a video collage of the existence of thousands of people spanning from the late ’70s through the mid-2000s.

Oh, and because it encompassed clips from several thousand participants, that means the movie was really, really long. When it was first released in 2009, Cinématon clocked in at 12,420 minutes of runtime—or about 8 days and 15 hours in total.

Of course, it’s a remarkably powerful film, considering the lengthy run. The subject matter is extremely personal, and even though the storylines are each disjointed from the others and focus on a new life every three-and-a-half minutes, Courant’s formidable idea has moved many people who have seen it in the years since.[3]

7 Beijing (9,000 Minutes)

Over a several-week period in 2003, Chinese film director Ai Weiwei mounted a camera onto a car and drove around the massive metropolis of Beijing. He didn’t just drive to random places or go down random streets, though. He went down every single street in all of Beijing—every main boulevard, every highway, every thoroughfare, every side street, and every back alley.

If a car could go down a street, Weiwei took his car and filmed it happening. The end result was a 9,000-minute movie (or 150 hours on the dot) that showcased every single street in Beijing and revealed what the city looked like at the time from the perspective of a driver.

Of course, Google Maps has (sort of) completed things like that for pretty much every mappable, major urban center on Earth at this point. Of course, Google doesn’t do video but rather a series of movable screenshots, so the effect isn’t exactly the same. But at the time of its filming in 2003 and its eventual release in early 2004, Beijing was a groundbreaking (and extremely long) film.

As for Weiwei, he is very far from a one-hit wonder. He has made quite a few other films in his illustrious career, too. They are all much shorter than Beijing, though, and they aren’t quite as innocuous. Much of his work is very critical of the Chinese government and thus very risky to film, produce, and release in his home country.[4]

6 Untitled #125 (7,200 Minutes)

Filmmaker Josh Azzarella released a feature called Untitled #125 in 2011 that ran 7,200 minutes in total—or five days in full length. And unlike others on this list, it was less experimental and (slightly) more plot-based, even in its insanely long slog on screens. The film expands upon one very specific scene in The Wizard of Oz.

It’s the scene from early in the film when a tornado blows Dorothy’s home in Kansas away, and the leading little lady comes face-to-face with Glinda the Good Witch. For Azzarella, that meeting was an opportunity to expand the scene and wonder what might have happened had Dorothy gone deeper on screen during her journey with Glinda.

The film, which is also titled Hickory, was made between 2009 and 2011 and extends for viewers the exact moment where Dorothy journeys to Oz. What was just a six-and-a-half minute section of the original iconic The Wizard of Oz film becomes a five-day marathon, with Azzarella pondering what viewers didn’t see happen to Dorothy in the original.

The filmmaker thinks those five days would have been Dorothy’s actual temporal experience going to Oz at that point in the film. Thus, the five-day-long movie accounts for all of her whereabouts. By the way, the alternate title Hickory is a direct reference to the film’s farmhand by the same name, who is working hard on a machine to supposedly ward off tornadoes. You can say a lot about Untitled #125, we suppose, but not that it isn’t creative![5]

5 Amria Ekta Cinema Banabo (1,260 Minutes)

Filmmaker Md Ashraful Alam (who is also known as Ashraf Shishir) filmed in 2018 and 2019 to make a movie called Amria Ekta Cinema Banabo. Coming in at just over 1,260 minutes—or about 21 hours in total runtime—Alam’s movie is the first on this list that is not experimental and not an off-shoot of an already-existing movie, like Azzarella’s above. No, Alam’s film here is very much a normal, traditional narrative movie with a structure similar to the ones you’re used to seeing. It’s just 18 or 19 hours longer than most movies!

Also known by its English-language title of The Innocence, Alam’s Amria Ekta Cinema Banabo follows the story of a young man named Kabir. Kabir accidentally kills an ant, and he decides that he wants to seek repentance for unwittingly causing the death of an innocent creature that was just trying to go about its day.

Soon, a vagabond man named Razzaq learns about Kabir’s killing. Razzaq tells Kabir of his theory—that everybody in the world is acting in films that are being directed by God. In order for Kabir to repent for his ant-killing sin, he must be the hero in a film Razzaq is making in that same vein.

The film trudges on until Razzaq tells Kabir there is a heroine in distress in a nearby town. She has been caged, and she needs to be freed. Kabir convinces Razzaq to let him rescue the lady. For a while, Razzaq tries to persuade him not to do so, as she is Razzaq’s romantic interest, but eventually, Kabir insists.

The two men start fighting, and Kabir eventually hits Razzaq on the head with a stone. The vagabond begins to bleed, and the film just… ends. There is no culmination to the marathon movie, which no doubt must come as a letdown to viewers who spent 21 hours of their lives watching it develop![6]

4 Resan (873 Minutes)

Also known as Le Voyage or The Journey in English, Resan was produced and released in 1987. Directed and filmed by a man named Peter Watkins, Resan was the longest non-experimental narrative film ever produced until 2019’s aforementioned Amria Ekta Cinema Banabo was released by Md Ashraful Alam. In total, Watkins’s film runs for 873 minutes, or exactly 14 hours and 33 minutes, and the topic of the Swedish-based documentary is a very important one.

For Watkins, Resan had a meaningful purpose: to cast much-needed light on both military spending by governments around the world and specifically on the problems related to nuclear weapons. In the documentary, not only are those issues addressed by Watkins, but the film also features quite a few interviews with civilians from various countries around the world.

These civilians are asked about their thoughts on these critically important topics and what they may mean for the future of the world ahead. If you’re going to spend 14 hours watching a single movie, the serious topic of this one may not be a bad reason to take the plunge.[7]

3 Evolution of a Filipino Family (643 Minutes)

In 2004, filmmaker Lav Diaz released the groundbreaking and gut-wrenching film Evolution of a Filipino Family. More commonly known by its original Filipino title Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino, the movie does exactly what the title makes it sound like. It follows the life story of a poor, struggling Filipino farm family through the years. It took Diaz nine years to put together all the footage for the film, and in those nine years, viewers can see the family members age right in front of the camera throughout its runtime.

Speaking of runtime, Evolution of a Filipino Family clocks in at exactly 643 minutes—or ten hours and 43 minutes of runtime in total. It’s quite the family saga, with both mundane moments and powerful, life-altering events uncovered and captured on film. In the end, it’s an incredible tale of one impoverished family’s journey to try to survive across multiple generations and over just short of a decade’s worth of time.[8]

2 Shoah (566 Minutes)

Director and documentary filmmaker Claude Lanzmann devoted several years of his life to producing and then releasing 1985’s powerful film Shoah. The film is one of the longest documentaries ever made (along with some others on this list!), and its topic of choice may be even more powerful than any of the ten that grace this page today.

For Lanzmann, Shoah is all about the Holocaust. The French filmmaker went around France and elsewhere in Europe and interviewed survivors of the Holocaust. These people were the witnesses to its destruction, guards and perpetrators who took part in it, and other international observers decades after it occurred.

He went all across Germany to Holocaust sites to see them for himself and speak to people whose lives were forever altered by the awful World War II-era event. He also went all across Poland to the extermination camps and other historical areas to visit the aftermath of the near-complete destruction of the Jewish people. In total, the project—which took Lanzmann more than 11 years to complete before its 1985 release—wound up with a runtime of 566 minutes, or exactly 9 hours and 26 minutes.[9]

1 Heremias (519 Minutes)

The final longest-movie-ever that appears on this list has a repeat for a director! It’s Lav Diaz again, the man who came in at number eight (above) with Evolution of a Filipino Family.” This second film of his, called Heremias, isn’t quite as long as the first one we’ve talked about here.

Produced and released in 2006, Heremias” only runs 519 minutes—8 hours and 39 minutes for those keeping score at home—compared to the ten-plus hour runtime that came with Evolution of a Filipino Family. So if you sit down to watch both of these back-to-back on a weekend, you’ll wind up with about two more hours of free time after watching Heremias then Diaz’s other venture!

Jokes aside, Heremias tells the story of a man named, well, Heremias. In the movie, his oxen cart is stolen from him, and he must travel from his tiny, rural village to the city to report the theft and try to take action to get it back. The rural police and then the city cops continuously take advantage of Heremias’s poor naivety and innocence along the way. In turn, his journey becomes something of a saga of patheticness, disappointment, and heartbreak.

The film is very religious in its creation and thematic meaning, though, with Diaz exploring major religious symbolism throughout and expounding upon the power of faith. The film also highlights the disturbing trends of political and social corruption in Philippine society. (By the way, Heremias is sometimes also known as Book One: Legend of the Lizard Princess for those of you who have nearly nine free hours and wish to seek it out!)[10]

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