I own over 2,000 movies on DVD or VHS. I have gone to many many more movies that have not been worthy of my collection, thus my exposure to film has been extensive. I mention this because through every film I have seen; I still come back to a film from 1959 as the greatest achievement in cinematic history. I have seen great films like: Return of the King, Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart and many more. While the modern films are wonderful and have a fantastic richness to them, they still are a "small" notch below Ben-Hur. Today's films use a lot of computer effects for their <more>
battles scenes, their backgrounds, and even computer images for the stunts of their actors. Yet, Ben-Hur did it all without computers. I am still fascinated by the chariot race. Never, in film history, has anything matched the depth and excitement of the chariot race. Remember folks, this is 1959, nothing is computer generated. Some may say the naval battle scenes look a bit cheesy, but again it was 1959 and the scenes still work today. What can you say about the acting? Every single actor is wonderful. Heston is in top form as Ben-Hur. Steven Boyd is incredible playing the merciless Messala. Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Martha Scott--all fantastic in their roles. Each performing the role of a life time. The actors are fantastic, but William Wyler brings more out of each actor than any director ever could in this day and age. Wyler had no computer animation to rely on, he had no high tech special effects crew, he had no computer program to fill in extras. Wyler had to find thousands of extras for many scenes and maintain control. Did you ever see Steven Boyd better? Probably not. Did you ever see any of the actors except Heston, who is an acting marvel better in any other role? Wyler just pulled the greatest performance out of each actor. The story: fantastic from beginning to end. While the film is over 3 hours long, you do not feel that it is that long. Every scene is lovingly crafted: the reunion between Messala and Judah, the trek to the gallows, the rowing scene, the naval battle, the chariot race, the Messala death scene, the reunion with Judah and his family, etc. After seeing thousands and thousands of movies, I always come back to Ben-Hur. This is the mark of fantastic movie making. Today's film makers could learn a lot by watching this film and "learning" about acting, directing, and screen writing.
Wow, what can you say about a film that won 11 Academy Awards back in the days where the best films actually were honored, not the garbage they salute today.In other words, this film lives up to its reputation and has to be ranked as one of the most memorable movies of all time. Nobody who ever saw this film ever forgot the chariot race, for instance, perhaps the greatest action scene filmed without special effects. This can be a very sad film as well. I doubt if I've ever watched this without a few tears in my eyes at certain points. The scenes with hero's mother and sister suffering <more>
with leprosy are still some of the most heart-wrenching scenes I've ever witnessed on film. They can just tear you apart. The combination of drama, action and romance, along with very involving storyline is aided by an incredible soundtrack, once again one of the best ever put on film. The more one hears this music, the more was is moved by it. To fully appreciate the cinematography in this film I recommend you purchase the recently-released 4-disc DVD special edition which also includes the first rendition of this story, the silent movie "Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ." That was name of the book, by the way, the second part of the title being left off the 1959 movie as Hollywood slowly began deemphasizing Christianity in films. However, there is a reverence for Jesus Christ in this film, which should be there since it's a key element of the storyline, even though most folks forget that.In summary, this is about as good an example as ever found of what is labeled an "epic" movie. It's an incredible story transferred memorably on screen.
I have seen Ben-Hur I also like the 1925 version very much I don't know how many times now. I think I have stopped counting seven years ago. I never tire to see this movie and, needless to say, I know all the scenes and dialogue by heart. This picture has everything in it. Almost all human sentiments are represented in the story: joy, sorrow, despair, pride, jealousy, hope, revenge, anger, forgiveness, compassion, redemption, love, hate, friendship, humour, etc, etc. During the three and a half hours it takes for the story to unfold, we see passing by our very eyes just about every <more>
example of what constitutes the human condition. What I find even more remarkable in this movie is the fact that Christ is present throughout the entire story, but we don't really see him in the flesh at the exception of a few scenes, where the Lord is, in fact, in the background and yet, his spirit and message is ever present through the words and actions of the various characters. It's not for nothing that the complete title of this great story is "Ben-Hur, a Tale of the Christ". The movie is well-acted especially Heston, Griffith, Hawkins and, let's not forget, the wonderful Finley Currie, playing Balthazar , the dialogue is always concise, yet never short of meaning and substance the way dialogues in movies should be , the decor and settings are just magnificent and the Miklos Rozsa score is simply superb. Besides Quo Vadis the 1951 version, which, incidentally, I have recommended to those who have also enjoyed Ben-Hur , I cannot think of a better movie about the early days of Christianity than this one. There are others, of course, The Robe, just to name one , but none has the grandeur and the spectacular dimension of Ben-Hur. It's the movie I would want to watch one last time on my death bed. I gladly and proudly give Ben-Hur a score of 10 out of 10!
Still good after 40+ years, but made for a different audience. (by LBytes)
Ben Hur, a Tale of the Christ, was hugely popular as a novel, a play and two movies. It was written in a less vulgar time about a very spiritual event. Seen today by moviegoers addicted to constant action and low frequency effects, it will seem ponderous, slow and pretentious. Well, it is a little. You have to pay attention to the dialogue or you won't get it at all. Some of the intimate scenes aren't all that great. Anyone that really pays attention can tell the sea battle is done with miniatures. It's still worth watching. As everyone ought to know by now, the chariot race is <more>
one-of-a-kind; nothing else comes close to that real live race where the main actors actually raced most of the time. I just watched this movie after lapse of about 10 years. I still enjoyed it. The sea battle is still fun even if you know the boats are about as big as a man. The few moments which have Christ on the screen are still moving. Just about all of the acting is good with only a few forgettable moments. Just be ready to spend about 4 hours in front of the screen listening to occasionally flowery dialog.
Ben-Hur defines the term "epic". Story, characters, script, screen play, production values all focused on creating a truly memorable work of art. A movie I never get tired of watching, a fantastic piece of entertainment. Evokes the sort of emotion that only those really special movies can. Certainly the best movie of the "historical epic" genre, but transcends any category to stand out as one of the greatest movies ever made. The people who saw this on its original release must have been awe struck and amazed. I'm still searching for a movie that can get the same <more>
response from people, regardless of age, gender, creed or colour. Just an amazing example of how good you can make something, if you really care about the end product.
Oscarized adaptation based on Lew Wallace's novel with huge production design and wonderful scenarios (by ma-cortes)
This monumental version of renowned story during the time of Christ which was filmed several times, concerning on a wealthy Jewish named Ben-Hur results to be an impressive movie . It is a big budget version by William Wyler that won a record of 11 Oscars and was the most expensive picture of its time , being one of the greatest movies of all history. The story is well known , a rich Jewish nobleman Ben Hur Charlton Heston in the title role, he was initially offered the role of Messala , though Burt Lancaster was considered and his confrontation to military Messala Stephen Boyd , though <more>
Robert Ryan was also considered , Boyd and other actors playing Romans wore dark contact lenses, so their eyes appeared brown , though they were childhood friends . When happen a distress , Ben Hur incurs the hostility his previous friend and is condemned to galley slavery , reduced to manning an oar , and his family is sent to prison during several years into a room completely locked . When he's in a galleon as slave rower saves to Quinto Arrio Jack Hawkins who subsequently appointed him as a heir . Years later he goes back to seek revenge upon his Roman tormentor . This culminates in a groundbreaking chariot race . As he returns Palestina where his mother Miriam and sister Tizrah roles performed Martha Scott and Cathy O'Donnell respectively are prisoned at Antonia fortress . This classic tale is added religious issues about Jesus life , as are described the pilgrimage , Mountain sermon , Passion , crucifixion and resurrection .Lavishly produced by Sam Zimbalist and uncredited Sol Siegel, the production cost MGM a massive $15 million and was a gamble by the studio to save itself from bankruptcy . Sensational main cast and enjoyable support actors such as Hugh Griffith as Sheik , Sam Jaffe as Simonides , Finlay Currie as Balthasar , John Le Mesurier as Doctor , Frank Thring as Pontius Pilate , Andre Morrel as Sextus and many others . Marvellously staged battle ships and a breathtaking chariot races . As the chariot race required 15,000 extras, on a set constructed on 18 acres of backlot at Cinecitta Studios outside Rome , eighteen chariots were built, with half being used for practice ; the race took five weeks to film and 15,000 extras were used . Three hundred sets, five years of research, and fourteen months of labor were required for the sets . The dialogue , colorful images , majestic set design from Edward Carfagno and William Horning , glamorous photography by Robert Surtees , evocative musical score combine to cast a spellbinding movie . Rousing soundtrack by the classical Miklós Rózsa who wrote the musical score over a period of nearly a year . His first-rate score deservedly won an Academy Award . The motion picture was stunningly realized by director William Wyler who took on the project because he wanted to do a Cecil B. DeMille type picture . Although William Wyler was Jewish, he particularly wanted to make a film that would appeal to all religious faiths . Wyler selected all the camera angles for the chariot race, but left all the details of its actual shooting in the hands of his second-unit directors Andrew Marton and Yakima Canutt . Rating : 9 , extraordinary and awesome , it ranked #2 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Epic".There are numerous renditions based on Lee Wallace's Ben Hur , as stage version , classic MGM's mammoth silent version ¨Ben Hur¨ 1926 by Fred Niblo with Ramon Novarro; and this the remake Ben-Hur 1959 in which Stuntman Cliff Lyons worked as a stuntman/chariot driver in both Ben Hur 1925 and this one . Cartoon version 2003 by Bill Kowalchuk in which a prologue and epilogue narrated by Charlton Heston ; and ¨Ben Hur TV series¨ 2010 by Steven Shill with Joseph Morgan as Judah Ben-Hur , Stephen Campbell Moore as Messala , Emily VanCamp as Esther as Kristin Kreuk as Tirzah , Ben Cross , Simón Andreu , Alex Kingston , James Faulkner , among others .
Sometimes Overdone, But Entertaining & Worthwhile (by Snow Leopard)
It's hard to deny that William Wyler's lavish version of "Ben-Hur" is sometimes a bit overdone, but it nevertheless remains an entertaining and worthwhile classic. The material does justify the big-budget approach, since the story contains several interesting themes as well as plenty of action sequences. While some parts could have been stream-lined with little loss, in order to make the movie as a whole flow more smoothly, in general the film as it is keeps a good balance between action and substance. There are some very good dramatic moments in addition to the action <more>
highlights.Charlton Heston is well-cast as Ben-Hur, a role that plays right to his strengths. The strained relations between Ben-Hur and Messala provide one set of themes for the story, as well as driving much of the action. Heston handles his end of it pretty well, although Stephen Boyd could have been a little less static in his portrayal of Messala. Jack Hawkins works very well as Quintus Arrius, and his scenes with Heston are used well in establishing some of the inner workings of Heston's character. Hugh Griffith also has a couple of good scenes as Sheik Ilderim.The chariot race and other action sequences usually get most of the attention, but there are also some worthwhile ideas in the story which are really the focus of the original novel that are developed well enough. There is also a very good silent movie version of "Ben-Hur" from 1925, which at times takes a different approach from this version, and which is well worth seeing in itself for those who like the story.
Ben-Hur Charlton Heston a Jew, and Massala Stephen Boyd a Roman, once boyhood friends clash as adults in Biblical times. Big, lumbering epic--way too long 3 1/2 hours . It does have two spectacular action sequences--the sea battle and the chariot race.The sea battle has some very obvious, sometimes laughable special effects--for instance, it's VERY obvious that they're using toy boats in the long shots! Still. it is exciting and well-done.The chariot race is just great. A must see in wide-screen ONLY--it's long, violent and fascinating. It still stands up after over 40 <more>
years.The rest of the film is rather slow. The dialogue is ponderous. The pace is way too slow and none of the performances are that good how Heston won an Academy Award for this is beyond me . But it looks great in wide screen and color and has a rousing music score. I'm giving it an 8, but I really can't recommend it. Give me the 1925 Ramon Novarro one--that was much better.
Apart From its Climax, This is a Great Piece of Film-making and Drama (by silverscreen888)
Civil War General Lew Wallace's unpretentious novel has had a history of being liked for many reasons other than for its questionable Roman history its and unpretentious religious themes. In fact, it is simply a very long story about why honor is important and why revenge is less desirable than is forgiveness. The religious aspect--miraculous intervention by a dying Christ toward the man who tries to offer him water, a man he had once saved--impacts only the second idea, which otherwise would be untenable. So, much of this nearly four-hour-long epic masterpiece of film-making is a rousing <more>
drama with elements of adventure, historical bigotries, a surprising love story, a powerfully-filmed chariot race, strong dialogue scenes, a beautiful sea-battle and much, much more. William Wyler was the mastermind who managed to keep this sprawling project together; The performances he elicited set a standard not yet equaled for the historical genre; note that, brilliantly, Brits play the Romans and classically-trained US performers the Jews. British Empire types play the other Middle Eastern races. The story of Ben-Hur need not be retold in any great detail. Messala, now a tribune of the Empire, and Judan Ben-Hur, a rich Jew, had been boyhood friends. When Messala returns as 2nd to the new governor, an accident with falling roof tiles causes the already estranged Messala, who has already tried to get Judah to betray opponents of Rome to him to further his career, to be enabled to send Judah to the galleys. Saving Quintus Arius his commander after a battle, Judah is adopted by the man in place of his lost son, becomes a champion of the chariot races at Rome, but returns home. He finds his mother and sister reported dead, his fortunes wrecked, and the woman he loves waiting for him. It's not enough for him. He declares war on Messala before he discovers his mother and sister have become lepers, defeating and killing Messala in a great chariot race; and then he finds the two restored by a miracle performed by a dying Jesus, who recognizes him as a man whom he once saved by offering him water when he was in a slave column in the desert. The real star of the film other than Wyler's impeccable direction and the spectacular recreations of Jerusalem and Rome are the actors. Splendid work by Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd as Messala, Hugh Griffith, Frank Thring, Jack Hawkins, Finlay Currie, Martha Scott and others are the norm in this film. And virtually every technical and creative aspect from the costumes to Miklos' Rozsa's magnificent music to the Karl Tunberg dialogue is a memorable and praiseworthy achievement. Among the finest things about "Ben-Gur" are seeing Christ only through Ben-Hur's eyes, the Yakima Canutt-directed chariot race, the galley sequences which updated Michael Curtiz' rowers in "The Sea Hawk", the party and farewell when Judan leaves Rome and the entire early portion set in Jerusalem. One may quarrel as many have done with the "messy death of messala" or the deus-ex- machina miracle that is used as the film's climax, to the detriment of secular justice as a human concern. Bwhat must not be forgotten is how great a movie this is, developed from a slender source. I suggest it is a film worth studying and seeing many times over.