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A reel of film is one of the most universally recognized symbols on Earth. It means glamour and show business. Hollywood. But as with a lot of stock images and phrases, obsolescence sets in. Since the turn of the century, digital “film” cameras are really just vastly improved video cameras, and theater projectors are now digital devices that show a movie off a hard drive. Other than museums and specialty events, after roughly 125 years of motion pictures, we don’t use reels of film anymore and haven’t much in almost a generation.
In the film industry since the earliest silent days, the metaphorical expression a “reel” simply means ten minutes. If someone refers to “the fifth reel” of a picture, they mean roughly 40 to 50 minutes in. But the only reels you’d ever be likely to see, the ones in a projection booth, are 20 minutes long and have been since shortly after WWII. As noted, a lot of film technical language is obsolete.