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#012. Two-part films

Attention spans aren’t what they used to be. Time was when you would go to a movie and it would be four hours long, including an overture and intermission. This trend has gone back almost to the beginning of cinema itself. In fact, the 1916 silent epic, Intolerance was a whopping 3 hours and 30 minutes long. I know people who can hardly sit through an hour of silent film, let alone 3 ½ times that amount. At any rate, the more modern trend is to release two movies which compose a larger narrative. While this is largely done in relation to literary adaptations, in order to include as much as possible, occasionally a filmmaker’s vision is much too large for a normal audience to sit through. This week’s movies are films that were broken into two parts, but should be watched together as a whole.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 & 2
Year: 2010/11
Rating: PG-13
Length: 276 minutes / 4.6 hours (146 minutes & 130 minutes)

It seems that these two movies kind of opened up the realm of “two-part” films as of late. Other literary works that have followed suit are the Twilight series conclusion, Breaking Dawn, and the prequel to the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit. In fact, even though the books that made up the Lord of the Rings were all split into two parts each, the films themselves were not divided in the same way. This means that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows started this recent trend. If you think about splitting a movie into two parts in a marketing sense, it’s brilliant. All of these films are from huge franchises that already have made more money than should be possible. By breaking up the films into two parts, you automatically double the amount of money made on these adaptations. And people will pay for it, because they think that with two films, all the important parts of their favorite books can be covered, and the adaptation can be a faithful representation of the source material.

The great part about splitting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into two parts is that the first part can provide a lot of the explanation and exposition of the plot so that by the time the audience would get to the second part, all that remains is the action and epic battles that the first part led up to. The Dark Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has finally taken control of the Ministry of Magic and with the death of Hogwarts’ headmaster, Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), little stands in Voldemort’s way to rule the world of magic. That is, not unless Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends have anything to say about it. As Voldemort gathers his forces to launch a final assault on Hogwarts, Harry sets out to destroy the Horcruxes, items that give Voldemort his immortality. During his search, he learns of the Deathly Hallows, the three most powerful magic items ever created. Unfortunately, Voldemort now possesses one of the Deathly Hallows, the Elder Wand (which is the link between the two movies), and it’s merely a race against time for Harry and his fellow classmates to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, thereby giving them a slight chance for victory against Voldemort.

Kill Bill 1 & 2
Year: 2003/04
Rating: R
Length: 247 minutes / 4.12 hours (111 minutes & 136 minutes)

When Quentin Tarantino made Kill Bill, his original intention was that the four hour film would be shown in its entirety. When the general public heard that the running time was just over four hours, they balked. Even Lawrence of Arabia was just over three and a half hours, and even that was separated by an intermission. While I agree that watching both films in their entirety keeps the director’s original intent, four hours is a long time. However, I have known many people who have had marathons of their favorite film series, including Star Wars, Back to the Future, and the aforementioned Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series. It stands to reason that two films watched back-to-back is much easier to sit through than three, six, or even eight films in a row.

As is the case with other two-part films, the first part of Kill Bill sets up the premise, while the second part brings the plot to conclusion. Even though the plot of Kill Bill is somewhat simple, the act of revenge can quickly get complicated. When the woman merely known as “The Bride” (Uma Thurman) awakes from a coma, she finds that her baby that she was carrying before going into the coma is now gone. Fortunately, she has no doubt in her mind who is to blame: her former boss, Bill (David Carradine). Bill led an assassination squad, of which The Bride was a part. The group’s betrayal and attempted murder of The Bride failed, and now she’s on a path of vengeance to get her baby back and to repay her former coworkers in kind. By the end of Volume 1, the only members left of the group are the two members closest to Bill, and the ringmaster himself. Does she have what it takes to finish the job? Volume 2 gives the exciting conclusion.

2 sum it up: 2 films cut into 2 parts each

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7 responses to “#012. Two-part films

  1. Pingback: End of Act One | Cinema Connections

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