Winner of 11 Academy Awards in 1959, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor. 'Ben-Hur' remains one of the most inspirational, epic action spectacles ever made by a major Hollywood studio. It was a landmark achievement in grand peplum/biblical genre storytelling. Directed by William Wyler, the film tells the story of a kind, wealthy Jew, Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) whose life is thrown upside down, when he is betrayed and falsely accused of crimes against the Roman Empire by his childhood friend, turn tribune Messala (Stephen Boyd). Spending three years as a galley slave, Judah must find, a way to restore himself to high standing and while, also seeking revenge on his enemies. Without spoiling the movie, too much, while everybody thinks that this movie was the original; it was in fact, the third movie, follow after 1907 & 1925 of the same name to be made from Lew Wallace's successful novel, 1880's 'Ben-Hur: A Tale of The Christ'. It can be argued that a talking picture made from the same story as an earlier silent film is not a true remake, since the storytelling techniques each employ are so radically different, but that's up to debate, but at least, it's more original than the later films that came after it, like the 2003's animation version & the 2016 remake. Anyways, like the book, the movie also has a sub-story running in parallel with Judah's main event narrative; which was the unfolding story of Jesus. While, Jesus does play a more important role in this story more than other films, his cameo presence is still somewhat tangential. It's jarring to see a violent revenge plot, mixed his story about love thy neighbor. Thank God, the film cut the sequences of Ben-Hur faking his death, and raising a Jewish army to overthrow the Romans, as it felt that Christ's message of forgiveness, could be lost. Still, 'Ben-Hur' is the only Hollywood film to make the Vatican approved film list in the category of religion, despite having scenes of him killing an innocent guard. However, the film does have other problems than the mixed messages, it was presenting. The book and the films have always been accuse of being too similar to the book, 'The Count of Monte Cristo" by author Alexandre Dumas to the point that some critics have stated out that the film is 'The Count of Monte Cristo meets Quo Vadis'. While, me, personal, I don't see much of anything comparable; some critics says, the film is ripping off, that premise, way too much. Regardless, I did like the changes by the many screenwriters, did, to couther, being too similar to the novel, like having Messala's vindictiveness be motivated by a sexual and romantic rejection as much as a political one. I'm one of the few people that, kinda like the somewhat hidden homoerotic overtones between Judah and Messala. I also love how Heston didn't know about this; adding an interesting uncomfortable dynamic to the tense dialogue scenes between the two actors. It adds some spice and realism that was really needed for this period film. I also like how the film, add symbolism to the ocean scenes and also cut other things, like the character of Ira from the novel. I always felt that the scenes with her, was time-wasting. On top of that, the other changes like having Judah's sister being the one who dislodge the roof tile & how they treat Messala after the climatic chariot race were equally as important. However, the movie still have pacing issues. 212 minutes running time is way too long. While, I get why, the soul-stirring scenes of Christ's birth and crucifixion was needed, as it provide biblical bookends for MGM's action-packed epic. I think the outdated, theatrical overture & intermission sequence should had been delete in future releases. If anything, scenes like Judah declines the race at times, even after he learns that Messala will also compete, could had been delete as well, as the famous chariot race sequence did happen, later on the film, regardless of Judah wanting to do it or not. It felt like filler. Despite that, the climactic chariot race, which includes collisions, men dragged under chariots, bloody injuries, and intensely suspenseful competition, was so impressive in the stunt work & make up that it set new standards for action-filmmaking without modern cinematic razzle-dazzle. It was very surprising to hear that nobody got kill or seriously hurt. The colorful 1959 version was the most expensive film ever made up to its time, and the most expensive film of the 50s decade. Shot on the grand scale of $15 million, the film took six years to prepare, and over a half year in production, it was a tremendous make-or-break risk for MGM Studios. Luckily, for them, the project, ultimately saved the studio from bankruptcy as it became a box office hit, earning three times more than it took to make. Does it hold up? Yes, while it's slow at times, and some of the acting feels now, mannered, stiff, and awkward like Hugh Griffith in blackface. It still worth the praise and achievements, it got, when it first released. It still has great acting from all the cast, including more physically than emotionally compelling Heston, amazing color widescreen cinematography from Robert Surtees, beautiful music from composter Miklós Rózsa & wonderful costumes from Elizabeth Haffenden and her crew. However, this movie might be too intense to be rated G, even at the time. After all, this movie has a leper colony where two principles characters are shown with open, rotting sores and a few men drowning in the ocean battle. If anything, it could be rated PG or PG-13 now. Regardless of that, I have say, Ben-Hur is one of the ultimate epics movies of all time. A legendary movie that needs to be rewatch, time after time again. Highly recommended.
Action / Adventure / Drama / History / War
Action / Adventure / Drama / History / War
Judah Ben-Hur lives as a rich Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century. Together with the new governor his old friend Messala arrives as commanding officer of the Roman legions. At first they are happy to meet after a long time but their different politic views separate them. During the welcome parade a roof tile falls down from Judah's house and injures the governor. Although Messala knows they are not guilty, he sends Judah to the galleys and throws his mother and sister into prison. But Judah swears to come back and take revenge.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
May 11, 2016 at 05:28 PM