So we know who is intimidated by long movies, but now my question is how do you handle them? The first group of 5 hour films (ex. Fanny and Alexander), then 10 hour (ex. Dekalog), then 15 hour (ex. Berlin Alexanderplatz). How long does a film have to be to cause you to take breaks? Has anyone ever watched Satantango or Dekalog or Berlin Alexanderplatz straight through (with obvious bathroom breaks but nothing more)?
The longer the film, the more I spread it out over a day.
I know some consider this to be sacrilege, but I tend to better enjoy a longer film if I take my time with it and watch it in sections. Now, if it’s a multi-hour film that can put me in a trance (see, anything by Kubrick), I will watch it all in one sitting, and then probably watch it again immediately afterwards.
With Satantango, Tarr definately intended it to be watched in one sitting, so I tried to more or less watch it that way. The other you mention, Drew, actually were made for TV and intended to be shown in installments, so I have no problem with stop-and-start for them.
I have no problem watching a long movie straight through (I sat through all 4 hours of Lawrence of Arabia), but I’d definitely have to split something up like Berlin Alexanderplatz. I think the longest I’d be able to sit is 10 hours, and I’d only do it once. After that, I’m either not watching the film again or I’m splitting it up.
In a recliner or a good couch.
Berlin Alexanderplatz took me a good month and a half before I finished, but I have a really good memory for what I see in films so it was easy to pick it back up after a week or two without viewing it. And it was divided into episodes, so that simplified things a bit.
Films that push the three hour mark vary for me: Inland Empire and La Dolce Vita I watched in one sitting, Seven Samurai I watched over the course of two nights, and A City of Sadness took me three nights (if only because the DVD was shit and I had to fast-forward through parts where a computer screen would pop up due to it being a bootleg).
I’ve gotten to the point where if I want to introduce myself to a new director I hunt down their shortest films available. With Rivette it was a bit difficult, but I enjoy his films enough so that the running time doesn’t bother me. I am looking forward to watching the Shimizu eclipse set since all his films run under 80 minutes. So basically I’m willing to watch long opuses by directors I am familiar with and like, but rarely take such a chance on filmmakers I haven’t seen yet. I’m not going to stress myself into watching something in one sitting if it will reduce how much I enjoy the film.
If it’s like Das Boot (which ranges from the 3 hour to the 5 hour uncut version) or Fanny and Alexander (5 hours). You have to watch it straight through excluding 1 or 2 minute bathroom breakups.
But Decalogue I watched in the same day but with slightly longer breaks.
Depends how well the film holds my interest in one sitting. Seven Samurai I watched an hour the first time I rented it then fell asleep.. A month later I rented it again and watched the whole thing through in one sitting, to become one of my favorite films. Stalker- another 3+ hour film I watched in one sitting as well, while Andrei Rublev- same length, which I liked even more than Stalker I spread out over three nights (an hour each night). Lawrence of Arabia, I watched til the intermission one night, and finished it off the next day. It all depends and varies on the movie, and my mood. I’d imagine that when I get to Satantango, Dekalog, Berlin Alexanderplatz, etc. I will need to split it up (most likely an hour each day)- but I am likely to skip days.
I smoke meth and watch films for days straight.
LOL @ Sam
I can watch anything – the longer the better. If it is a film, no matter how long, I will watch it usually straight through without a break. If it is a series, like Berlin Alexanderplatz, Brideshead Revisited, or Dekalog, I can watch it over a period of consecutive nights. What is the problem in doing this or even the point of discussing it? Satantango I recently watched over a course of two days. All that matters is that we maintain our attention throughout the viewing – whether it is done all at once or over a course of days. Also, length is not a guarantee of quality or a reason not to watch something.
I’ve watched Satantango, and Scenes from a Marriage with very minimal breaks. I only took two bathroom breaks in Satantango and that’s because there is three discs. I took a short break between discs, while it was loading in my DVD player. In Scenes from a Marriage I didn’t take any breaks, I sat for five hours straight. It was seperated into two discs, but I didn’t feel the need to go. Maybe this is why length intimidates me more, because I can’t break films apart, and still feel like I’ve watched them. It’s a nice way to use, an afternoon, or entire day, though. If I have nothing to do all day I see no reason to not spend it one one film, or five, as long as they’re good.
I don’t know what I’m going to do with Berlin Alexanderplatz, or Out 1 when I am finally able to see them.
I saw Warhol’s ****(Four Stars) Shown once and once only in 1967 it was 25 hours long.
I just watched the 8 hour cut of War and Peace, I basically watched the whole thing in the day taking the intermission breaks between each part. Its a quick break to compose and get some food, go to the bathroom, and then keep going.
I feel no obligation to watch a very long film straight through, if there’s no projectionist and I’m not captive in a cinema. The advent of home video, first in analog forms and now as data streams – for which I’m grateful every day – has carried the experience of film into the intimate & contingent circle of reading, or listening to music. Novelists and musicians can spend many years working on an integral work; and even where gobbling down the work in one sitting is possible, is there any special virtue to that? There’s a kind of bulimic edge to marathon film-watching—and it also reminds me of obsessed gamers, World of Warcraft geeks and the like, doing a virtual “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”
But David’s mentioning Warhol brings to mind that in the case of works like Empire or Chelsea Girls (the way the latter was projected, six films split into pairs, there was an aleatory element that made it a novel experience, short of seeing every possible permutation!), endurance is the form, and that no means exist in these cases to get the true experience of the work outside of the time & space of the exhibition site. Chelsea Girls on home video is only like an archival record, a substitute for a whole experience…
I agree with you Witkacy, what you say makes a lot of sense to me. It could even be argued that a human being consciously sitting still for too long could be unnatural and its more that we’re conditioned into it through manners and mores (save for sleeping). What other species of intelligent life will sit staring at something for hours?
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m one of the people who enjoys to watch a film with endurance, but if you have a way of watching it in your own privacy, what does it matter if its all at once or in segments?
Brent – While I think there’s something antique about paintings and sculptures set up preciously in galleries for exhibition, I do like the idea of being able to approach the work in all sorts of different ways, physically speaking—to stand, to walk around, etc. What you said made me think of Peter Greenaway’s many diatribes against sitting in a dark theater with other people watching a film, irreversibly and with forced intimacy.
No way! I was totally thinking about Greenway’s approach earlier too right after I posted I was thinking: “who said that?”
It is true though, one is forced with intimacy through consideration of those around you. Its like going to the theater with only you and your buddy sitting in. If you’re aware no one else is around, you’re going to make comments to one another throughout the film.
Ultimately I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to watch a movie.
When I watched The Best of Youth I just watched it over the course of a week during a holiday. I defiantly look forward to watching it all in like one sitting next time.
I actually tried to get through Berlin Alexanderplatz as much as I could but no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible. I then started watching it on my 45 min commute on the subway. This was ideal. It allowed me to focus on the film in 45 minute intervals, then pick it back up later. I found that it made me appreciate the film much more than the times I had tried sitting straight through. I was only watching it when I was tuned completely into it and could really let myself get absorbed…and yeah, I missed my stop a couple times but Fassbinder is worth an extra 10 block walk.
For Satantango I just sat right through that one with tiny breaks between discs. No problem, same with Fanny & Alexander…but I’m a Bergman junkie…I could probably watch a window for 30 hours if someone told me he was behind the camera. For the Warhol films they’re just simply impossible to watch in one sitting (Empire … Chelsea Girls is not a problem, it’s fantastic). I’m a Warhol fan, and I’ve never felt the slightest urge to sit through * (four stars)* … that’s just ridiculous really.
Oh and yeah, Dekalog isn’t an issue…it’s broken up beautifully into episodes. Treat it like a TV series on DVD. The End.
I cheat a little, I put them on pause and come back to them. I think I watched Satantango over three days recently, Berlin Alexanderplatz over four or five. JP is right about BA, the episodes are natural breaks, and each episode has its own story arc. I’m getting ready to watch both of them again. I wouldn’t read War and Peace, or even Madame Bovary, in one sitting. Amarcord, Andrei Rublev, and Inland Empire I’ve watched more or less straight through recently. I appreciate being able to stop and digest and return — sometimes a scene will be so intense that it’s better to let it stand on its own a little bit.
A dark room, espresso, cigarettes, a candy bar, a glass of water and a pair of headphones (it enhances the soundtrack)
Cinesnag, it’s not like anyone’s going to be offering the opportunity to sit through Warhol’s four stars anytime soon. The second disc of Satantango is probably the most difficult to absorb all at once, but if you get through the disturbing part there’s this wonderful treat, the Tango scene, which could have gone on twice as long as far as I was concerned. That’s really a film where the more Tarr makes you look at these characters, the more you see them — even if we’re probably supposed to feel like God does at the end when he just boards up the window (although they’ve abandoned him before he abandons them).
Coffee, I now realize that any film is much better when I drink coffee while watching it. I seem to be able to grasp all the content and normally once I finish the film I’m ready to watch it again with the commentary.
I once watched the whole Cremaster-Circle from Matthew Barney in one row in a cinema. That truly felt like dreaming for round about seven hours with the eyes open. Realy a wonderful expierience.
Actually I’ m not ab big fan of breaks during a normal 3 hour screeing, even a 4 hour one like for example lately during Sion Sonos’s LOVE EXPOSURE. It always pull you out of the expierience, even if it’ just for a couple of minutes.
Turn on T.V. and sit down and press play.
I prefer to go through films straight through, but if they’re long, I’ll take my time depending on their pacing. I did Lawrence of Arabia from beginning to end nonstop as well as Spartacus, and I obviously used the intermission for its intended purpose, but I never actually paused. Ben-Hur is not very well paced at all, so that was over two days. Andrei Rublev was unevenly split simply due to time constraints I had, and although I love the film, its pacing isn’t 100% there either.
I prefer to sit right through if possible. Satantango wasn’t a problem. Berlin Alexanderplatz defeated me, and I had to watch the epilogue the next day. Heimat – I managed in one gruelling session. I attempted a marathon of marathons, interested in the functions of length. Out1 (broken into 3 days), Shoah (2), Berlin Alexanderplatz (almost 1) then Heimat. I planned to go on to Heimat 2, but bottled out and did War and Peace instead, at an easier 8 hours.
What did I learn? Not a lot really, only that length served a different function in the films: To name two Rivette using repetition of scenes with variations. Shoah to create the space for contemplation, with testimony stopping to show landscapes where the horror had occured with a camera traversing the space and into the silence and the movement the testimony restarts.
@ Sebastian: I didn’t view Barney’s Cremaster cycle all-in-one (saw it, rather, bit-by-bit as exhibited over years @ the Film Forum); but Cremaster 3 (the most lavish & expensive; and yet the weakest) alone was enough to leave me with useless knees and crippling lower-back numbness…
Otherwise – Why would I, should I, sit through Satantango in one sitting? Is there a ritual component to film-viewing, something violated by the blandishments of the pause/stop buttons on the DVD remote? I agree with Justin re the analogy to novel-reading: why cram?
i make sure i stretch, have a bottle of water, had plenty of sleep and a good breakfast.