With the magic of editing, movies can cover huge jumps in time over a span of mere seconds. That way, we never have to know how long James Bond spends sitting on the toilet after eating some bad tacos, and instead get right to the car chases and karate chops. But if you ignore the editing, how long do some of these movie scenes really take? Well, we did the calculations and found ...
5It Takes Four Years For Starkiller Base To Destroy The Senate In The Force Awakens
In an intense scene in the Star Wars remake (search your feelings, you know it to be true) The Force Awakens, a cult of Space Nazis called the First Order activates their superweapon Starkiller Base -- a bigger, more powerful Death Star with the power to destroy entire solar systems over vast distances. Moments after the colossal beam is fired, our heroes look to the sky in horror as the Hosnian System, the seat of the Galactic Senate, is spectacularly disintegrated.
Actual Time Scale: Four Years
We know that we're talking about a science fiction universe in which both fire and sound are possible in the vacuum of space. Oh, and that literal wizards can move objects with their minds. That, too. We're not exactly expecting Stanley Kubrick levels of realism here, but most of the physics of our world -- such as gravity -- seem to remain more or less intact in the Star Wars universe. So for fun, let's imagine how long this event should have taken.
First of all, we're assuming that whatever the Starkiller beam is made from, it's moving no faster than the speed of light. It's true that spaceships in Star Wars can travel faster than light, but a beam of pure plasma or energy or whatever probably doesn't have a hyperdrive installed on it. We also know that Starkiller Base isn't in the same solar system as Hosnian Prime, because it needs to vacuum up a star before it can operate, hence its creative name. And the star in the middle of the Hosnian System is still shining at the time of impact.
R.I.P. Manatee-Pug-Face Man. May you live on with your 12 unnecessary action figures.
Best-case scenario is that Starkiller Base is orbiting the very next star over. We don't know how far that is, but we know how far our sun is from its nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri -- a little over four light years. This means that, even if Starkiller Base is as close as it can possibly be to the Hosnian System, it still likely takes a matter of years from the moment they pull the trigger to the moment they hit their target.
"OK, now stand and wait for 1,450 days. It's going to be so cool, you guys."
So after the beam is fired and Finn and Rey escape, they could simply hop in a ship, grab a few drinks, take a little vacation, learn to play the piano, and then eventually kick on the FTL drive to mosey over to the Hosnian System to let them know that a death beam is on the way. No hurry, though -- they still have years to evacuate.
4Gandalf's Research Journey In The Fellowship Of The Ring Covers Years
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In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, Bilbo Baggins accidentally reveals that he's carrying one of the most powerful objects in the universe when he uses it to perform party tricks. It's sort like hanging up a nuclear bomb as a pinata. Understandably concerned, Gandalf takes off on horseback to some ancient library in order to figure out which magic ring Bilbo has been carrying around -- whether it's one of the bad ones, or the really bad one. Upon concluding that it's the latter, he jumps on his horse again and rides back to Bilbo's house to warn Frodo to stop smacking the bomb with a stick.
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Or to at least to not leave it in his damn junk drawer.
We assume that Gandalf's return happens the very next night, since the hobbits are all still in party mode and the banter between Gandalf and Frodo continues without skipping a beat. But if you think about it, Gandalf must have been away for much, much longer than that.
Actual Time Scale: Several Years
The library that Gandalf visits is in Minas Tirith. That's where the final battles take place in Return Of The King. You know, the same place that takes our heroes three films and around 300 hours of movie time to reach. Here it is on a map. The Shire, where the hobbits live, is in the top left, while Minas Tirith is on the bottom right, just west of Mordor's crazy square mountain range.
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If we assume that Middle Earth is about the size of Eastern Europe (which is kind of what Tolkien was going for, since there weren't exactly a bunch of samurai involved), then Gandalf traveled the equivalent distance from France to Greece. On horseback. And although Gandalf is a wizard, his horse isn't established as having magical teleportation powers or anything.
So Gandalf's research trip and return could have taken years -- enough time for Sauron to figure out where the ring was and build an army. As for the hobbits still dancing and drinking when Gandalf returns? Well, that's down to the fact that nobody throws a rager like The Shire.
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They're all shorter John Belushis from Animal House.