10 Longest Movies of All Time, Ranked


Oppenheimer may be long, but at least people can reasonably watch it in one sitting. After all, some filmmakers couldn’t care less about box-office numbers, critic reviews, or even the audience’s ability to watch the entire work. Experimental movies challenge boundaries and conventions—a plot, character development, a runtime between 80 and 150 minutes, etc.—to the point where they hardly feel like part of the same medium as their theatrical siblings.

Sometimes, this comes in the form of a multi-part series streamed on Netflix or aired on television over several days. But the following films—these mastodons, these titans—cannot be contained by even a serial format, and only the most dedicated viewer would be willing to see them through to the end. So here are the ten longest films ever made, ranked from shortest (the word has never been used more loosely) to longest.

10 ‘****’ (1967)

25 hours

**** (otherwise known as Four Stars) immediately declares that even the 10th-longest movie ever created is impossible to watch in one day. The 25-hour runtime makes a little more sense after learning it was written and directed by famed pop artist Andy Warhol at the height of the counter-culture movement.

Warhol actually made a ton of movies, ranging from a two-hour black-and-white superhero movie called Batman Dracula to a bunch of experimental short films to Chelsea Girls, a three-hour commercial success that received mixed reviews. Four Stars sets itself apart from all of them with more than just its length; it was also made so that two 33-minute reels would play over each other at once. It’s said that this extremely avant-garde oddity was only exhibited in full once at the Film Makers’ Cinematheque for a 1967 screening in a New York City basement that no longer exists. A short-story collection on film, Four Stars is unlikely to be shown in full again.

Not available to stream or buy.

9 ‘The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple’ (1928-1931)

27 hours

Chinese cinema pioneer Zhang Shichuan didn’t show Huo shao hong lian si (translated as The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple) all at once. Instead, this 27-hour silent epic was released in 18 feature-length sections from 1928 through 1931, quite a unique point in film history. Every part of the movie was a hit in China and helped make the Mingxing Film Company into a powerhouse. What’s more, it’s also known as the first feature-length wuxia film, so its action scenes must have made up for its length.

This is far from Zhang Shichuan’s only cinematic milestone. He also directed China’s first feature film, The Difficult Couple, which came out in 1913 and prompted the very medium’s popularity. Based on a newspaper serial called Strange Tales of the Adventurer in the Wild Country, its extensive adaptation is about the rescue of a commander trapped inside a temple. Sadly, the film for this mammoth has been lost to time.

Not available to stream or buy.

8 ‘The Longest Most Meaningless Movie in the World’ (1968)

48 hours

The late-sixties strike again, as 1968’s The Longest Most Meaningless Movie in the World was two literal days long and probably moved at a slower pace than a T-rex on a leash. This bizarre film with the most self-aware title possible was composed exclusively of outtakes, commercials, newsreels, and a variety of other premade footage that was apparently edited together in random order with no specific message in mind.

Directed by Vincent Patouillard in the UK experimental underground scene, this relentless collage of clips has vanished—leaving only a cool poster and the above dinosaur image as fossils of the psychedelic age. It may have been the longest movie ever released at the time, but was it the most meaningless? The answer remains a mystery.

Not available to stream or buy.

7 ‘The Cure for Insomnia’ (1987)

87 hours

Another experimental patience-tester, The Cure for Insomnia displayed the recital of a 4,080-page poem mixed with family-unfriendly material and heavy-metal music clips…for 87 hours. Chicago’s L.D. Groban is the poet-screenwriter, and John Henry Timmis IV is the director. It’s unclear whether this movie was shown in public again after its late-January to early-February 1987 screening.

The Cure for Insomnia was given the Guinness World Records’ stamp of approval as the longest movie of all time, but it has yet to prove that it’s actually a cure for insomnia. All the more difficult to do now, as it has followed the trend of being a ridiculously long film that’s no longer available. Perhaps one day, this lost movie shall return, but until then, the average insomniac will have to settle for the other literal giants of cinema.

Not available to stream or buy.

6 ‘Matrjoschka’ (2006)

95 hours

image via Karin Hoerler

Writer-director Karin Hoerler is the force behind this 95-hour German experiment. Released in 2006, Matrjoschka stems from an image: a boy riding his bike down the street next to some bushes and a house. This image then changes so slowly that the differences aren’t immediately noticeable to the human eye, which may be compared to watching hair grow or paint dry. This doesn’t exactly scream blockbuster to most audiences, but it definitely demonstrates human beings’ limited degree of sensory perception.

Therefore, it seems paradoxical to call Matrjoschka a motion picture, but that may well be the point. The movie’s title comes from what is known as a matryoshka, a semi-cylindrical wooden doll that opens up to reveal a smaller replica, which in turn opens to reveal an even smaller replica, and another—and so on. Essentially, it seems there is always something hidden within. The film’s approach to movement at least helps explain its absurd length: perhaps a comment on how much time it takes to eliminate one’s sense of time.

Not available to stream or buy.

5 ‘Untitled #125 (Hickory)’ (2011)

120 hours

The Wizard of Oz - 1939
Image via MGM

Enter the triple digits with a clip from The Wizard of Oz that stretches on for what feels like infinity. Director John Azzarella decided to take six and a half minutes of film from this classic 1939 fantasy and extend them to the length of five real-time days. Released in 2011, Untitled #125 (Hickory) took two whole years to produce.

Unlike Matrjoschka, released half a decade earlier, Untitled #125 (Hickory) focuses on a series of images with ostensible meaning: it begins at the point where the audience witnesses the destructive tornado in Kansas as it approaches the house in black and white, continues through Dorothy’s nightmarish journey to Oz, and ends when Dorothy meets the Good Witch of the North in a fantastic world of color. In a word: transformation.

Not available to stream or buy.

4 ‘Beijing 2003’ (2004)

150 hours

Ai Weiwei showing a small camera and smiling.
Image via IFC Films

Director Ai Weiwei decided to fasten a camera onto a car and drive through every single street within what’s known as the fourth ring of Beijing. Filming for Beijing 2003 started specifically on Oct. 18 and ended about sixteen days later with more than enough footage to become the longest movie in the world at its 2004 release. Other documentaries by Ai Weiwei include Coronation (about the Chinese government’s lockdown of Wuhan at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak) and Cockroach (about the 2019 Hong Kong protests).

Funny how something 150 hours long can take such a short time to complete. But, then again, Beijing 2003 is an avant-garde documentary with a relatively simple premise: it’s an attempt to unobtrusively capture the geography, culture, and feel of the director’s hometown in a constantly evolving, modern world.

Not available to stream or buy.

3 ‘Cinématon’ (2009)

156 hours

Poster for Cinematon showing multiple vignettes with different people in them.
image via Les Amis de Cinématon

Gérard Courant’s 156-hour Cinématon took decades to finish. A cinématon is a silent vignette, and this experimental behemoth comprises thousands of them—each about three minutes and twenty-five seconds long. Courant gathered fellow artists, friends, and others to do whatever they felt like in this relatively short timeframe. What to do when faced with nothing but a camera? A subject may peer into the lens, look away, smoke, drink, make faces, or all of the above. There is much room for both sincerity and humor.

These people are varied and fascinating: acclaimed director Jean Luc-Godard, actor and filmmaker Julie Delpy, chess grandmaster Joël Lautier—the list goes on (and on). Finally screened the whole way through in November 2009, this documentary offers a glimpse into each individual that might say more about who they are than the average interview format permits.

Not available to stream or buy.

2 ‘Modern Times Forever (Stora Enso Building, Helsinki)’ (2011)

240 hours

Different angles of the Enso Building in Hesinki.
Images via Superflex

A product of Danish artist-collective Superflex, Modern Times Forever (Stora Enso Building, Helsinki) slowly captures the future decay of the Stora Enso building in Helsinki, Finland. At exactly 10 days long, this colossus dwarfs the previous works mentioned thus far. It may comfort some to realize that it was never really expected to be watched the whole way through.

In contemporary-art fashion, Modern Times Forever was shown in front of the actual Stora Enso headquarters in 2011 on a large screen—contrasting how it looked then to how it would over time. People were not supposed to stare at it so much as occasionally notice the image change throughout the week. This was technically beneficial to the viewer in the sense that if some people weren’t in the neighborhood (on vacation or sick, maybe), then they would at least be able to catch a glimpse of the movie later on.

Not available to stream or buy.

1 ‘Logistics’ (2012)

857 hours

Ever wonder how a pedometer is made? No? Well, ever wonder what it would be like to watch a reverse-chronological documentary that takes forever to finish? Daniel Andersson and Erika Magnusson‘s experimental Swedish film Logistics answered both questions when it came out in 2012. Logistics is the longest movie of all time, taking a whopping 35 days to end.

There is a method to the madness here. The modern household is full of complex devices most people take for granted; this mighty film sets out to show just how much energy, pollution, time, and manpower is required to create and transport these gadgets that enable people to live an increasingly automated, sedentary lifestyle. There is no dialogue to state these things explicitly, and so it’s left to the viewer to infer this film’s various meanings as the slow process of transport unfolds in real-time. A 72-minute version of Logistics was released as well, only taking a few minutes from every day of travel for a (much) more accessible viewing.

Watch on YouTube

NEXT: ‘The 10 Highest-Grossing Domestic Movies Over Three Hours Long, Adjusted for Inflation’


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