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What is the Movie Called the Cure for Insomnia?

"The Cure for Insomnia" isn't your typical film—it's an avant-garde journey, holding the record as the longest movie ever made at 87 hours. This experimental piece defies traditional storytelling, merging art with the personal musings of poet L. D. Groban. Intrigued by how a film can stretch the boundaries of time and attention? Let's delve deeper into this cinematic enigma.
Brendan McGuigan
Brendan McGuigan

The Cure for Insomnia is a video released in 1987. It is notable for being the longest video ever released, at more than 87 hours. Very few people have ever seen the video in its entirety, but it is a famous staple of film classes and random trivia.

The first release of The Cure for Insomnia was at the School of the Art Institute, in Chicago. It played from January 31st through February 3rd, without stopping. Its exact running time is 5220 minutes, making it more than 40 times longer than the average full-length feature.

Woman with a headache
Woman with a headache

Because The Cure for Insomnia was shot entirely on video, rather than film, and because its stated premise was to put people to sleep, rather than to entertain or educate, some people contest whether or not it can be considered a film in the purest sense. In spite of this, The Cure for Insomnia is listed in the Guinness World Records as the world’s longest movie.

There is no plot to The Cure for Insomnia. Instead, it features the poet and visual artist Lee Groban, reciting a 5,000 page poem, also entitled "The Cure for Insomnia." Lee Groban has been an active participant in the Chicago art scene since the 1970s, and has been a part of many different artistic projects, ranging from visual art to performance art to poetry. Lee Groban is also featured in the Guinness World Records, under the category of world’s longest poem. The poem itself is considered to be a work in progress, with the movie of The Cure for Insomnia providing a single snapshot in time of the work.

The Cure for Insomnia features a great deal of repetition and list-like cadences. For example, one segment reads: “I wonder how come the cartoonists of our most popular newspaper comic strips never use Polish, Armenian, or Romany Gypsy names for their characters? Why only Western European names? ‘THAT all y'do all day? Soun's like a drag...&srquo; By the beard of the Lord Eordogh of Ordogkeresztur and Nagyeskulo, it's a drag. By the beard of the Lord Cseffei of Totor and Noszalya, it's a drag. By the beard of the Lord Bethlen of Kallo, Ecsed, Tokaj, Szendo, Murany, Szecseny, and Regecz, it's a drag. By the beard of the Lord Tomori of Devecser, Besenyo, Gyanda, Borsfalva, Csobad, Felso-Homrogd, Also-Homrogd, Hegymeg, Berkes, Szakacsi, Kercs, Senye, Cseb, Nyilas, Abauj, and Borsod, it's a drag. By the beard of the Lord Dolhai of Kereczke, Kusnicza, Zadnya, Kelecseny, Vizkoz, and Okormezo, it's a drag. By the beard of the Lord Visoi of Felso-Viso, it's a drag.”

Imagining such litanies of beards, for example, continuing for minutes on end gives an approximation of what the movie of The Cure for Insomia is like. The cadence is, of course, intentional, as is reflected in the title of the piece. A cure for insomnia would put you to sleep, as would such a long and repetitive piece.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the movie "The Cure for Insomnia" about?

"The Cure for Insomnia" is not a traditional narrative film but rather an experimental project directed by John Henry Timmis IV. The film is known for its extreme length, running for 87 hours. It consists of poet L. D. Groban reading his 4,080-page poem interspersed with clips of heavy metal music and X-rated film footage. The film's purpose was more about testing the limits of the medium and the concept of endurance watching than storytelling.

How long is "The Cure for Insomnia," and is it the longest movie ever made?

At 87 hours (5,220 minutes), "The Cure for Insomnia" holds the record for the longest movie ever released, according to the Guinness World Records. It premiered in its entirety at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Illinois, from January 31 to February 3, 1987. Since then, no other commercially released film has surpassed its length, making it a unique piece in cinematic history.

Can I watch "The Cure for Insomnia" in its entirety?

Watching "The Cure for Insomnia" in its entirety is a challenge due to its length and the fact that it is not widely available for public viewing. The film was screened only once in full and has never been released on any home video format. Unless another screening is organized or the film is made available through some form of distribution, it remains largely inaccessible to the general public.

What was the purpose behind creating such a long movie like "The Cure for Insomnia"?

The purpose behind creating "The Cure for Insomnia" was largely experimental. Director John Henry Timmis IV aimed to push the boundaries of film duration and challenge the audience's perception of time and endurance. The film's length is a statement in itself, questioning the limits of artistic expression and the consumption of art. It was more of an artistic endeavor than a commercial film meant for widespread entertainment.

Has "The Cure for Insomnia" received any critical acclaim or notable recognition?

"The Cure for Insomnia" is more of a curiosity in the world of cinema than a critically acclaimed piece. Its primary recognition comes from its status as the longest movie ever made, as recorded by the Guinness World Records. The film's unconventional structure and length make it a point of interest among cinephiles and those intrigued by the extremities of artistic expression, rather than a work celebrated for its narrative or cinematic technique.

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Discussion Comments

My bouts with restless nights are few and far between, but I confess that I am a member of the insomnia club. As I said, insomnia is rare for me, but when I have trouble sleeping, television does not help. Regardless of how bad or how good the program I am watching is I do not get sleepy.

My bouts of insomnia don't last more than a couple days, so I would fall asleep before the 87-hour movie mentioned in the article ended.


Wow! It does sound like a boring movie. I don't think I will put it on my must-see list. However, there are plenty of shows on TV that I guarantee will cure your chronic insomnia. Next time you have trouble sleeping just get out the remote and start clicking. You'll find one, and without much effort.

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