Ben-Hur consists of three famous films:
1)The 1925 silent epic which was “state of the art” for its’ day.
2)The 1959 classic, winner of 11 academy awards.
Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) loses everything after his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), now an officer in the Roman army, returns to Jerusalem and accuses the young prince of treason. Stripped of his title and separated from his wife (Nazanin Boniadi) and family, Ben-Hur must endure years of slavery on a galley at sea. When fate brings the estranged brothers to an epic and deadly chariot race, Ben-Hur finally gets the chance to exact vengeance on the man who destroyed his life.
I saw the recent release of Ben-Hur and I thought the movie was very good. I have also seen the 1925 silent film version and the classic (11 Academy Awards Version) 1959 film with Charlton Heston. The recent release had different slants in the story line which is always refreshing. The movie went into detail about Judah Ben-Hur and his adopted brother Messala’s boyhood. Messala helped save Judah’s life when he was thrown from his horse. Messala felt he did not fit in with the Ben-Hur’s aristocratic family and went to Rome to find his fortune. Upon Messala’s return, he imprisoned the entire Ben-Hur family. In the 1959 epic film, a loose tile on the roof of their home fell near the marching Roman leader by accident. In the new film, the harbinger that lead to the families’ imprisonment was a Jewish Zealot who deliberately shot an arrow at the Roman leader and just missed him. Once again, the Ben-Hur family was falsely accused of the crime. Judah Ben-Hur had no relationship with Quintus Arrius in the new film and did not save his life, leading to Judah’s freedom. I do not recall Quintus Arrius in this movie at all. Judah broke free from the chains while the ship was sinking, and ended up on the shore where the Arabian lived, whose horses he ran in the Jerusalem chariot race. He won the race as well as his freedom. Judah saw Jesus a couple of times prior to His crucifixion, and this movie emphasized Judah’s conversion much more so; and unlike the ’59 version, Judah was at the cross while Jesus was crucified. Judah’s salvation was much more personal and highlighted. The characterization of Jesus Christ was very good, and different from the previous movie. [Jesus, the God man, is always a challenge to portray, and both movies did a great job]. The chariot race was a technological marvel. The Jerusalem amphitheater was built into a mountain and the race was extremely brutal. The graphics were spectacular. The Roman blood lust was really emphasized! Unlike the ’59 version, Messala did not die after the race, full of hate. He observed Judah’s conversion, and he too, laid down his sword and hatred. The Ben-Hur family was reestablished in their Jerusalem home along with Messala rejoining them. It was called a box office bust by the critics, but I thought it was a very good movie. I would encourage Christians to see this classic movie, remade once again. I will purchase the DVD once it is available.
Pastor Steve <><