Last night I had the relaxing pleasure of watching a three-hour-long movie: The Great Escape. This 1960's classic depicts the intricate escape plan hatched and implemented by a group of Allied officers trapped in a Nazi POW prison. Although the film is based on a true story, the plot was significantly augmented in order to create a compelling film.
Even though the movie itself is quite good, what particularly interested me was the actual length and how a film this long could hold my attention. I live in a world where entertainment can be captured and consumed in milliseconds. In addition, most modern films are around two hours or less in length - often filled with action and/or intricate plot twists. So the habit of sitting down in front of a television set - which is endowed with over 500 channels - without changing the channel for three hours is not very ingrained in my being.
So what made The Great Escape good enough to hold me, a very selective attention-giver, for three hours? It was a surprisingly simple balance of good acting - quality of delivery, a sufficiently novel and captivating plot - intellectually stimulating experience, and fun - emotionally stimulating experience.