Based on this question, what feature-length movie* (about 80 minutes or longer) covers the smallest amount of time? I'm thinking along the lines of Run Lola Run which only covers about 20 minutes.

*I know the Academy defines it as 40 minutes or longer, but I'm after "movie"-length movies here.

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    Much trickier question. With a huge amount of time-play movies, this might evolve into a discussion about the relativity of time. But IMO, lots of 'it was all a dream' plots could fit in here.
    – Walt
    Nov 10, 2014 at 21:49
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    Or time-travel stories that cancel out time... We should see what the clever folks can come up with before putting too many restrictions on content. Nov 10, 2014 at 21:51
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    @Walt Though it's not that the other one didn't provide enough possibilities for discussing its premise either.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 10, 2014 at 23:05
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    "Harry Potter and the One with the Time Turner Stuff is another example of time being shorter than the movie (just as a reference)" - No, it isn't. The movie still shows a whole year of magical education, no matter if a single day of that was lived twice. Until I learn how long the interval in Elephant is, I'd still go with Lola rennt or the probably equal Vantage Point.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 11, 2014 at 1:00
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    If you don't limit it to full length, the short film "Incident at Owl Creek Bridge" that was also shown as a Twilight Zone episode is less than a minute of real time.
    – JohnP
    Nov 11, 2014 at 22:01

7 Answers 7


I'm pretty sure Vantage Point (2008) has to be in the mix, as it's the same events as viewed from 8 different witnesses. I'm not sure exactly how long the span is, it's been a while since I saw it, but I feel like the main body of the movie covers the same 10 or so minutes several times.

  • The Wikipedia article talks about 23 minutes, though.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 11, 2014 at 10:41
  • Yeah, there's a little lead in time that's only covered once, and then there's a block of 15 minutes (according to an interview with Dennis Quaid quoted in that Wiki article) that gets repeated several times. Nov 11, 2014 at 14:04
  • what about memento? the lead actor needs to kill the villain in 15 mins from the memory build from every 15 mins of his life...
    – Mr_Green
    Feb 16, 2015 at 10:00
  • @Mr_Green - Memento plays backwards, but the whole movie can be considered a continuous stream. All the events portrayed take place over a number of days. Feb 16, 2015 at 13:29
  • It's been since the theatrical run since I've seen it, but isn't there a framing sequence of people watching the footage? If so, that would be 23 minutes x 6(?) vantage points + the time of the people finding and then analyzing the footage. Apr 11, 2019 at 21:01

The film Run Lola Run takes place over the course of twenty minutes (beating out Vantage Point by three minutes). The film's running time (sorry) is padded out with flashbacks and flashforwards.

The links lead to the relevant info according to Wikipedia.

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    Only posted because it's shorter than Vantage Point (the only other answer so far). I expect someone will find a better answer. Nov 11, 2014 at 8:41
  • Depends on how long the "padded time" is, because the entirety of Vantage Point takes up 23 minutes. So, if Run Lola Run has more than 3 minutes of padded time, then Vantage Point covers a shorter time span. Nov 11, 2014 at 14:07
  • I suppose that depends on which "Run" you choose. As it's been years since I've seen it, it'll take re-watching the movie to determine which run has the least flashbacks / forwards. Nov 11, 2014 at 16:40
  • But prior to the run, according to the Wiki article, there's a phone booth conversation and everything that happens before it. That's the "padded time" I was talking about. It says he has 20 minutes to get the job done, so I'm assuming each run is approximately 20 minutes. Nov 11, 2014 at 16:43
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    It's the stuff you elipsed out that explains a lot more of the events than a phone call. "Manni is a small-time criminal and, during an important job collecting 100,000 marks, he relied on Lola to take him and the money to his boss, Ronnie. Lola's moped was stolen on her journey and Manni is forced to travel by subway but, startled by the sight of police, accidentally leaves the bag of money on the train. Spotting a homeless man examining his money bag as the train departed, Manni pursued the train, only to find the man and the money gone." That had to take more than 3 minutes to explain. Nov 11, 2014 at 20:32

It's difficult to tell how long does it actually take to tell the story in the police office in The Usual Suspects.

It could actually take few minutes even if the fictitious stories told to police officer take much longer to picture in the movie with all the details.

We can find out if we clock only the speech of the hero as the narrator and scenes in the office.

  • 4
    The fire on the boat clearly isn't part of Verbal's story, its why Verbal is arrested and questioned in the first place. They also question the guy who is badly burned and get an artist's impression of Keyser Soze. For this to all happen in less than the 23 minutes of Vantage point seems unlikely - sorry. Good suggestion though.
    – iandotkelly
    Nov 11, 2014 at 22:02

Since time is a relative concept we would have to take that into consideration. The Chronicles of Narnia cover minutes of time on earth but years in the fantasy land of Narnia. The same would apply to the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland.

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    There are scenes in London, the journey to the countryside, and the arrival at the house IIRC.
    – his
    Nov 11, 2014 at 21:09
  • As for Wizard of Oz, there are 15 minutes before she's knocked out, and a couple minutes at the end. It seems pretty obvious she's unconscious for more than 7 minutes. Never made it through Chronicles, so I'm not sure about that one. Lots of Alices to choose from; can you be more specific and approximate the "real" time? Nov 12, 2014 at 9:01
  • I edited my answer but it appears a peer review didn't approve it. I am new to this, so this bothers me and I am not sure why my edit isn't showing.
    – 0pinion8d
    Nov 12, 2014 at 21:45
  • My edit that isn't showing explains that Prince Caspian, one of the Chronicles of Narnia, starts and ends at the train station and that covers a few minutes of time on earth.
    – 0pinion8d
    Nov 12, 2014 at 21:47
  • @meat trademark, I didnt realise I'd be expected to know the exact times and give you minutes of filming simply to participate in this discussion. I am not claiming these are the shortest, merely pointing out that time is relative and one would have to take that into consideration when calculating what the shortest time period covered is.
    – 0pinion8d
    Nov 12, 2014 at 21:51

While this won't win, TimeCrimes is shorter than the actual movie. Even though it has a time travel component, it is about 30-45 minutes of the same events from multiple perspectives. The wiki link has spoilers.


I believe that the "real time" of "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T" is shorter than Run Lola Run.

This was a disaster of a movie by Dr. Seuss, where a boy falls asleep during piano practice in the first few minutes of the movie. Much of the movie is then a dream sequence, until he wakes at the very end.

It's been a long time since I've seen it, but I believe the awake/present time sequences total less than 20 minutes.

  • 1
    My first thought was of the countless movies that consist almost entirely of a dream sequence. The trouble is, you don't know how much time is passing while the main character is dreaming. Mar 7, 2016 at 16:02

Waking Life takes place in (I think) 6 minutes of real time.

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