7

Most movies depict a few days to a week's worth of real-time. What movie depicts the longest amount of time?

  • This might possibly work better as two separate questions. Though, a signficant problem might be how to factor in flashbacks and stuff. Many movies include snippets of a much earlier time, even if not showing a long continuous timeline (e.g. The Fellowship of the Ring depicted at least 2500 years worth of timespan even if the "real" action didn't take more than a year). – Napoleon Wilson Nov 10 '14 at 9:43
  • I would gladly accept longest by any definition. – laggingreflex Nov 10 '14 at 9:48
  • 5
    Well, then I guess 2001 might be a start, from stone age to future in a single movie. – Napoleon Wilson Nov 10 '14 at 9:49
  • 1
    Prometheus?? If we count flashback kind of scene then how can we sort? Even new transformer shows stone age. So many scifi movie shows futuristic time even with stone age. – Ankit Sharma Nov 10 '14 at 9:59
  • 3
    Why stop at the stone age? What about any film that depicts dinosaurs and then switches back to modern day? What about The Tree of Life that even goes back to the big bang? – Walt Nov 10 '14 at 10:14
12

Although the fantastical plots of TV shows like Dr. Who and Futurama might trump it, The Tree of Life from 2011 must be a serious cinematic contender. Its story spans the beginning of the universe until present day (showing us along the way the big bang, the creation of the solar system and the extinction of the dinosaurs), which means approximately 13.8 billion years.

However, near the end of the movie this happens:

In the present, adult Jack leaves work. Riding the elevator up, he experiences a vision of following a young girl across rocky terrain. Jack tentatively walks through a wooden door frame erected on the rocks and sees a view of the far distant future in which the sun expands into a red giant, engulfing the earth and then shrinking into a feeble white dwarf.

The ending is open to interpretation, but if we take Jack's vision at face value, then this would add around 6 billion more years to the tally (which is when it's estimated that the sun will become a red giant). This would mean that The Tree of Life spans around 20 billion years and covers all of our existence.

  • 2
    When I read the question, I was going to suggest "A.I." (2000 years). After reading your answer, I started thinking about "Lucy" (3.2 million years). Then I remembered "A Sound of Thunder" (about 140 million years). But yeah, yours is the best answer ... until "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" (over a trillion years) is made into a movie!!! – BrettFromLA Nov 10 '14 at 18:27
  • 2
    Yeah in that Futurama episode they go to the end of the universe, and then it loops around on the beginning, and then they go through the whole thing again, it loops around again, and then they FINALLY get back to their starting time. Two full loops! – Andrew Whatever Sep 2 '15 at 21:41
  • There are at least two episodes of Dr Who that deal with vast spans of time. In one recent one, the doctor is incarcerated in a prison which takes him billions of years to escape having been repeatedly reincarnated by the prison. In another he takes the Tardis to the end of the universe accidentally. That has to be a long timespan, possibly in the trillions of years. – matt_black Apr 13 '16 at 10:06
2

The winner would probably be "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy" from 2005.

At the end of the movie, we see the main characters travel from (approximately) the present day to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, a span of some 1010120 years into the future.

  • 2
    Er, do we actually see them reach it? (I forget. Wiki says Marvin tells them they're going the wrong way). – Walt Nov 10 '14 at 18:34
  • @walt - We see them disappear, then the credits roll. We can be reasonably sure that they made it because it's in the novelisation. – user7812 Nov 10 '14 at 18:37
  • 5
    @Richard Still the movie didn't actually depict it, it seems. – Napoleon Wilson Nov 10 '14 at 18:45
  • The Restaurant wasn't in the movie. It was in the TV show though. – slebetman Mar 7 '16 at 3:07

You must log in to answer this question.

protected by Ankit Sharma Apr 14 '16 at 8:11

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .