Movie Mom

Movie Mom

How Do Movies Show Time Passing?

posted by Nell Minow

Someone once said that movies are “pieces of time.” A few take place in “real time.” Alfred Hitchcock’s experiment, “Rope,” unfolds in just the time it takes us to watch it, all in what appears to be one seamless shot. But others take place over days, weeks, years, even generations.

Slavko Vorkapich was the Hollywood pioneer who established the cinematic language of the passage of time. Whenever you see calendar pages falling or clock hands turning, that is his influence.

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I was honored to be included in Criticwire’s survey asking film critics about their favorite depictions of the passage of time in movies. Watch a year pass in “Notting Hill.”


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I wrote about the clever way they showed each school term passing in Bing Crosby’s 1960 film “High Times,” directed by Black Edwards, in 101 Must-See Movie Moments.

And watch many years go by and a marriage disintegrate in “Citizen Kane.”

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  • Demiurge2

    When I saw your topic, I planned to comment on the great “year passing” scene in Notting Hill, but you beat me to it.

    • Nell Minow

      Thanks! I saw that some of the other critics mentioned it as well. So glad you remembered it, too.

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