Communion Of Dreams

Life 1.5
February 14, 2009, 2:05 pm
Filed under: General Musings, movies, Science Fiction, Society, tech

I just conducted a little experiment.  It’s one you can probably try yourself.

See, some time back I decided that I needed to watch the 2001 movie remake Planet of the Apes.   I’d been on a bit of a Tim Burton kick, and figured that I should see this, even though it had been widely panned and looked dreadful.  But before watching it, I figured that I should watch the original once again, so that I’d have it fresh in my mind for the comparison to the remake.  So both movies went onto my NetFlix queue.

I saw Planet of the Apes when it first came out.  I remember seeing it, and being just completely blown away by the phenomenal story and really cool ending twist.  Hey, I was 10.  But while I no longer consider it phenomenal, it is a good movie, and I have seen it probably a dozen times since.

Anyway, the 1968 version arrived yesterday.  Since Monday is a holiday, I decided that I’d watch it and get it back in the mail today – no reason for it hanging around.  Last night I wasn’t feeling great, and this morning was a little more busy than I had planned.  So about 11:00, I sat down to watch the movie, aware that I wanted to be done before the mailman arrived (usually between 1:00 and 2:00 on Saturdays).  Feeling a little time pressure, I figured I could maybe zip through some of the opening bits and whatnot at a faster speed, get done more quickly.

I decided to watch the movie on my computer, where I could set the speed at 1.5x normal.  It compresses sound in some way automatically, so that things don’t sound too weird.  I’d done this previously with parts of other movies I already knew and wanted to get through.  And here’s the thing: I was able to watch the entire movie at 1.5x speed, and it seemed just fine.

OK, I slowed down some of the “action sequences” to normal speed.  But those were like a total of 10 or fifteen minutes.  All the rest of it – all the dialogue, all the traveling, all the plot development – seemed perfectly normal at 1.5x speed.


I was done in plenty of time, so I went back and rewatched the ending at the normal 1.0x speed.  It seemed to take forever to get through it.


Now, this could just be due to the fact that I know the movie pretty well, and my mind was able to fill in the emotional development usually tied to visual/spoken narrative without a problem.  But I think it has more to do with how we’ve been conditioned to experience movies currently.  We expect them to move more quickly, for the information to be conveyed in a more rapid pace.

It could just be due to the style of current film-making, with quicker cuts and More Jam-Packed Special Effects!

Or it could be that our lives really are faster now than they used to be.

1.5 times faster.

Jim Downey

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

As someone at least a decade too young to have seen the original Apes in the theater, I agree that the pacing of movies is much faster now than it used to be. Of course my perspective is somewhat reversed, perceiving older films as moving slower.

To me, it’s like reading a book. If it’s a story I am really enjoying, I read every word carefully, especially when all the words are important. The less engrossing the story, the faster I read it (if I continue reading it at all). I think film-making went this route as well, accelerating the pace of movies to hide poor stories. Once the audience grew accustomed to the accelerated pace, it became all but impossible to back off. Driving instructors call the phenomenon “velocitation”: the feeling that an appropriate speed is too slow after an extended period of relative high speed.

Or maybe you were just in a hurry. 🙂

Comment by osomuerte

“Velocitation”, eh? Hadn’t heard that – but it works, and explains the phenomenon reasonably well. Thanks, osomuerte!

Jim D.

Comment by James Downey

[…] It was. February 19, 2009, 9:00 am Filed under: Ballistics, Science Fiction, movies I wrote this the other day: See, some time back I decided that I needed to watch the 2001 movie remake Planet of […]

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