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Bring Intermissions Back

During Hollywood’s heyday in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s when long-form epics were all the rage, films, especially the higher-grossing ones, would run over three hours long. Lawrence of Arabia, the poster child for movies with intermissions, was aided tremendously by a break because the tonal shift between the two parts is much more jarring kept as one long piece. When I caught a revival of it a year ago, I thought, “Why can’t we still have those today?”

Of course, that film was released over 50 years ago and the time of three-hour-long period pieces is largely behind us. Intermissions no longer seemed necessary with the death of massive epics. Yet here we are in the 21st century and running times continue to crawl north of two and a half hours. This winter alone sees the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, all of which run over 140 minutes. Couple these lengthy features with an additional 10 minutes of advertisements and then another 20 minutes of previews, and viewers begin to go numb from sitting for three-plus hours.

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