After he completed "Red" (1994), the final film in his "Three Colors" trilogy,Krzysztof Kieslowski announced that he would retire. This was not a man weary of work. It was the retirement of a magician, a Prospero who was now content to lay aside his art--"to read and smoke." When he died two years later, he was only 56. Because he made most of his early work in Poland during the Cold War, and because his masterpiece "The Decalogue" consists of 10 one-hour films that do not fit easily on the multiplex conveyor belt, he has still not received the kind of recognition given those he deserves to be named with, like Bergman, Ozu, Fellini, Keaton and Bunuel. He is one of the filmmakers I would turn to for consolation if I learned I was dying, or to laugh with on finding I would live after all.

Is "multiplex conveyor belt" a set used in the film industry and the film negatives turn around it?

And does in this context the writer mean as the film was so long its film or negative do not turn easily along this device?

Source: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-three-colors-trilogy-blue-white-red

  • 2
    "Do" is a dummy verb that is added when a non-auxiliary verb needs to be inverted. "be" is an auxiliary verb, so it's just "is 'multiplex conveyor belt' a set", not "does 'multiplex conveyor belt' is a set". Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 17:38

3 Answers 3


A "conveyor belt" is literally a mechanical system that moves items along one after the other to speed up factory processes such as assembly or packaging, and therefore maximise productivity and profit.

Metaphorically, the "conveyor belt" is often used to describe anything where one thing relentlessly follows another, or where a business profits from the rapid succession of service or sales.

In your example, it is speaking about multiplex cinemas (movie theatres) which contain many cinema screens, and show multiple films throughout the day. Cinemas normally sell tickets for a fixed price, so they will make the same amount of money from a 2-hour film as a 3-hour film. What your writer is saying is that a 10-hour film (as made by Krzysztof Kieslowski) would prevent a cinema from making as much money because they could show perhaps 4 films one after the other in the same time it takes to show just 1 of his films and make 4 times as much money, and as such they are not compatable with their conveyor-belt-like business model.

  • Lots of thanks, So do you mean that the cinema should show these 10 one-hour films one after another and multiplex cinama just can show perhaps four films one after another and for these four films make the same money as an one-hour film. and people should show the rest of the move the other day??? Am I right please guide me. Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 12:53
  • And does cinema takes the same money for this 10-hour movie as for 1-hour move does? Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 13:03
  • @ViserHashemi I couldn't say authoratively - but I would assume so, IF a mainstream cinema chose to show a 10-hour film which I would imagine they would not. It sounds like the sort of film a specialist art-house cinema would show.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 13:38
  • So do you mean hear the writer means this film commercially is not profitable for multiplex cinemas ? and the longest film that they can show can be a four-hour film? I would be pleased to help me. I am learning english. Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 14:12
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    @Kat: In Germany, a surcharge for "Überlänge" (literally: "overlength") is completely normal. It is, however, not linear, i.e. a 5-hour movie will not cost twice as much as a 150 minute one. It's more like 1€ extra for movies over 2 hours or so. The reason is explained in Matt Krause's answer: it screws up the regular schedule and makes them "miss a slot". Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 9:59

A 'multiplex' is a cinema with multiple screens

The wording is very vague here but I think Ebert means "factory-like" with his reference to a conveyor belt.

So I'd translate this sentence into

His masterpiece "The Decalogue" consists of 10 one-hour films that do not fit easily in the commercial running of a large cinema.

Contrast it for example with a Marvel Movie: one sitting, the length of a normal evening, with a neatly wrapped up story.

Ebert likes his flowery language so if anyone has a better explanation I would not be surprised.


The other answers are correct insofar as they define “multiplex” and “conveyor belt”, but I think they’re missing the overall meaning of the metaphor.

The issue with Kieślowski‘s Dekalog is that the films are of a non-standard length (about one hour each, or ten hours for the whole series). Most feature films just short of two hours long (and the vast majority are between 1.5 and 2.5 hrs) which lets multiplexes run a regular schedule: our local one consistently has showings starting around 5, 7, and 9pm, for example. Neither the individual Dekalog movies nor the complete series fit neatly into those slots, and would require adjusting the schedule[*]. Since the theaters otherwise run in a fairly regimented fashion (like an assembly line, a place where conveyor belts are often found) many just didn’t show these films.

In fact, part of his contract required expanding two of these films so that they were a more traditional length, and thus easier to release to theatres. These were distributed as A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love, each of which was about an hour and a half long.

This idea is also supported by Ebert’s review of the Dekalog itself (the quote above is from his review of another of the director’s movies) which says:

But the form was ungainly for theatrical showing (do you ask audiences to sit for 10 hours, or come for five two-hour sessions?), and “The Decalogue” never had an ordinary U.S. theatrical run.

[*] This is potentially more complicated than just posting the times. You might need to manage the customers’ expectations: people might feel cheated paying the standard ticket price for an atypically short film, but if you give a discount you’ve also got to prevent people sneaking into the other “full price” movies. You also need to clean the theatre twice as often, and it might require more work for the projectionists.

  • Thanks alot, So you mean the main purpose of writer is: Because the film is too long It does not fit easily in the slot? am I right? What is the name of the device That film turns around it? Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 13:13
  • To clarify, this is a metaphor. Cinemas are physically capable of showing these films (a standard reel of film was about 10 minutes long, so there’s already a mechanism showing movies that are longer that that—and things are even easier when using digital files). However, the nonstandard length makes it hard to work these films into a multiplex’s operations (managing customers’ expectations, cleaning theatres, etc) Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 3:29

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