Movie Length: American Animals

Movie Length: American Animals


In the world of cinema, films often come in various lengths, ranging from short films that pack a powerful punch in just a few minutes to epic sagas that keep audiences engrossed for hours. One such film that left a lasting impression with its unique storytelling and gripping narrative is “American Animals.” This article delves into the significance of movie length, the intriguing journey of “American Animals,” and how its runtime contributed to its success.

Understanding the Importance of Movie Length

The duration of a film plays a crucial role in shaping the audience’s overall experience. A well-balanced movie length ensures that the story’s pacing remains optimal, keeping viewers engaged without feeling overwhelmed or underwhelmed. Short films are ideal for conveying concise messages, while longer films provide ample time for character development and complex storytelling.

The Rise of “American Animals”

“American Animals” is a crime drama film released in 2018, directed by Bart Layton. What sets this film apart is its hybrid approach to storytelling, blending documentary elements with traditional narrative techniques. The movie is based on the true story of four college students who attempt a heist at the Transylvania University Library to steal valuable books, including an original copy of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America.”

The Impact of Runtime on Narrative

The filmmakers’ decision to create a movie with a runtime of approximately 116 minutes was pivotal in shaping the narrative. With a story that spans both reality and fiction, this duration allowed sufficient room to delve into the characters’ motivations and emotions, while also presenting real-life interviews of the actual individuals involved in the heist. The interweaving of documentary elements enriched the storytelling, blurring the lines between truth and cinematic reenactments.

Maintaining Audience Engagement

One challenge that filmmakers face with longer movies is holding the audience’s attention throughout. “American Animals” tackles this challenge adeptly by employing a non-linear narrative structure. By jumping between the planning stages of the heist and the consequences faced by the characters, the film maintains a sense of urgency and intrigue. This clever use of storytelling devices captivates the audience, ensuring they remain engrossed until the very end.

Character Development and Emotional Connection

The runtime of “American Animals” allows for in-depth character development, enabling the audience to understand the protagonists’ motivations, insecurities, and moral dilemmas. Spencer Reinhard, Warren Lipka, Eric Borsuk, and Chas Allen are not portrayed as one-dimensional criminals; instead, the film peels back the layers of their personalities, making them relatable despite their unlawful aspirations. As a result, the audience forms a strong emotional connection with the characters, heightening the impact of the events that unfold.

Exploring Themes and Moral Ambiguity

Another benefit of the film’s length is the exploration of various themes. “American Animals” delves into the concept of truth, the allure of crime, and the consequences of one’s actions. The longer runtime allows these themes to be thoroughly examined, encouraging viewers to contemplate the moral ambiguity surrounding the characters’ choices.

Critical Acclaim and Awards

The decision to maintain a balance between documentary and narrative elements within an appropriate movie length garnered critical acclaim for “American Animals.” The film’s unique approach and compelling storytelling received praise from both audiences and critics alike. At the Sundance Film Festival, the movie was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and received the Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Performance.


In conclusion, movie length is a critical factor in shaping the audience’s movie-watching experience. “American Animals” stands as a testament to the power of well-balanced runtime, effectively blending reality and fiction to create an engaging and emotionally charged narrative. By allowing ample time for character development and thematic exploration, the film resonated with viewers, leaving a lasting impression on the world of cinema. As audiences continue to appreciate films that value storytelling over constraints of time, “American Animals” will remain a timeless example of the impact a well-constructed movie length can have on a cinematic masterpiece.