A Jewish prince turned Roman slave embarks on a journey of
revenge that keeps putting him in the path of Jesus Christ.
Directed by William Wyler
Written by Karl Tunberg
Starring Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Haya Harareet,
Jack Hawkins, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Cathy O'Donnell
Remake of 1925's Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Based on the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace
Oscar Wins - Best Picture, Best Actor (Charlton Heston),
Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith), Best Director,
Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Special Effects,
Best Original Score (Miklós Rózsa)
Oscar Nominations - Best Adapted Screenplay
I used to think biblical epics weren't really my bag. I didn't even really care for Charlton Heston either, as I knew him mostly from his hammy performance in Planet of the Apes. Then, a year ago, I watched The Ten Commandments and gained a new appreciation for the power of the biblical epic and the talent of Mr. Heston. This first watch of Ben-Hur only clinched it. This may be the first movie I've ever seen that earns every second of his three and a half hour runtime. Every second of that is needed to tell this mammoth tale of vengeance, mercy, faith, and love, with the backdrop of Ancient Rome at the birth of Christianity as its setting.
Heston is Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince who loses his standing when the Romans conquer Judea. His childhood best friend Messala (Boyd) chooses the Romans over him and has Judah sold into slavery to make an example of him when he speaks out for Jewish freedom. Judah goes from a slave on a Roman galley to the adopted son of a Roman consul, all the while having occasional encounters with a young Jew named Jesus Christ. Ultimately, Judah becomes a chariot driver who ends up facing Messala in a deadly race for Rome's favor, obliterating his enemy in the process. There's rarely a dull moment and it's easy to see why this film conquered the Oscars, losing only Best Screenplay.
Ben-Hur was billed as a "Tale of the Christ," but it's more a tale of man's resilience in the face of spiritual abandonment. Judah loses his family, his fortune, and his faith, and must find each of them again before he can close the book on his time as a slave. Heston delivers the performance of his career and William Wyler directs yet another eventful masterpiece that has gone down as one of the greatest cinematic achievements of the twentieth century.