‘Hele’ and other exceptionally long films | Inquirer Entertainment

‘Hele’ and other exceptionally long films

/ 12:25 AM April 13, 2016

JOHN Lloyd Cruz (left) and Sid Lucero

JOHN Lloyd Cruz (left) and Sid Lucero

The recent commercial release (in selected theaters) of Lav Diaz’s eight-hour film, “Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis,” is a well-nigh unprecedented cinematic event.

Most “very long” movies (the usual running time for a feature film is 90 to 120 minutes) are screened, not in cineplexes, but in special venues, like art festivals.


So, “Hele’s” release in a number of SM theaters is an exceptional occurrence that should go a long way in popularizing “long cinema”—to the extent it can be popularized, given today’s viewers’ relatively short attention and “patience” spans.


In any case, Lav certainly didn’t invent the long-film mode: The longest movie ever made and for public screening was more than 14 hours long!

It was the 1987 production, “Resan (The Journey),” followed by “Out 1” at 12 hours, “How Yukong Moved the Mountains,” ditto, and Diaz’s earlier work, “Evolution of a Filipino Family,” at almost 11 hours.

Even more mind-boggling is the list of the longest experimental or art films intended for specialized and practically private viewing. It’s topped by “Killtech Logistics,” which took 37 days to watch (off and on) in full!

The Canadian opus and epic is described as “a dark comedy that takes the form of a corporate webinar onlinevertisement e-video for the titular termination assistance franchise promoting their conflict resolution helpline.” Wow, it would take us 37 days to figure that out!

In any case, other Diaz films are included in the “longest” list—“Death in the Land of Encantos” (nine hours), “Heremias,” ditto, “Melancholia” at seven, “Florentina Hubaldo” at seven,  “Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon” at six and “Batang West Side” at five hours.

For our part, we’re quite familiar with really long films, having watched, in film class at Northwestern U, the Andy Warhol “experimental classic,” “Sleep,” which clocked in at five hours and 40 minutes!


The required viewing experience was made even more of a challenge by the fact that, as its title intimates, the long movie’s action consisted of nothing more (and less) than extended shots of Warhol’s friend—fast asleep!

After a while, except for sleep therapists, anything would be more tolerably viewable than that!

What about the longest films we’ve ever seen, without being required to do so? Some  Russian classics have been quite kilometric, like the original production of “War and Peace,” which we viewed in a film fest in Europe—if memory serves, it took five hours to unreel.

On local screens, we have also watched some pretty long sagas voluntarily, and even happily—like the old “Maruja” movie starring Susan Roces, which took more than four hours to unspool.

Another reason why we’re optimistic that some local viewers will support long movie productions is the fact that, as some old-timers still recall, there was a time when “double programs” (two films in one screening) were popular in these parts, particularly in provincial theaters.

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Also recall that, at the Manila Grand Opera House and Clover Theater, the half-day viewing treat was a full-length film, plus a two-hour stage extravaganza!

TAGS: Entertainment, Film, Hele, Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis, John Lloyd Cruz, Lav Diaz

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