8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep, exploratory and emotional
I have lost count of the times I've seen this movie, and have lately sat through yet another viewing. As it is deep, exploratory and powerfully moving, I make no apologies for still finding something in it. I may even be preaching to the nostalgically converted when, as a boy, I grew up with it, seeing it on its territory, the 'big screen.' Having felt the same...
Published on June 3 2004 by David Butterworth
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hold your horses, Judah
There are those who think that the reputation of the 1959 movie version of Ben-Hur is a victim of its success -- that it's remembered for the chariot race, for being the biggest, the widest, the longest, etc., rather than its ambition to upgrade the historical spectacle genre into a drama of character and the clash between the ancient Roman and Jewish cultures. True...
Published on May 24 2004 by Rick Darby
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep, exploratory and emotional,
I have lost count of the times I've seen this movie, and have lately sat through yet another viewing. As it is deep, exploratory and powerfully moving, I make no apologies for still finding something in it. I may even be preaching to the nostalgically converted when, as a boy, I grew up with it, seeing it on its territory, the 'big screen.' Having felt the same satisfaction then, I now find the space to appreciate it at a deeper emotive level. Those timeless emotions of thought and feeling in it, are layers I continue to find and appreciate. Why does this film continue to stand the test of time? Because of its eloquent handling of feelings and conditions everyone feels, from the brutality of tyranny to subsequent reconciliation. I have read some overtly
critical opinion about Heston's acting being 'wooden,' 'overblown,' 'pretentious.' If his is bad acting, what do you consider good? Isn't it just a case of appropriate or straight acting?
I think Heston's performance is sedate, solemn, deep with meaning, as is the case with most of the other stars who compliment his. William Wyler judges walking towards doorways and entrances, standing in them, turning up unexpectedly, with
classic precision which is almost theatrical.
The scene where Hur meets and crippled dying Messala learning his mother and sister have become lepers, is one of my favourites, dealing with the theme of human intimacy and tragedy in a moving way. Heston's shadowy figure standing in the doorway at Boyd's assertion, 'there Drusus, I knew he'd come,' is beautifully harmonised by Miklos Roza's music. I therefore agree with a comment that Boyd is Heston's foil dominating every scene he's in, making Hur see the incompletness or hollowness of his chariot victory. I see no enemy, a sweat-glistened Heston admits. Then Boyd rasps, 'is there still enough of a man left here for you to hate? Let me help you,' struggling in his crippled body. Wyler folds over this scene beautifully. Hur pulling Messala's dead hand grasp from his leather shirt, then walking into a deserted stadium looking yonder, languishing, yet not languished. As all the other stars in the picture bridge the gap of Heston's at times stylised or dull acting, there are many scenes like this one. But I think Boyd, not Hugh Griffith, should have received the oscar for best supporting actor. He went on to play a 'nicer' Roman officer named Livius opposite Sophia Loren in samuel Bronston's THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.
BEN HUR, because of its long-term devotion to the timelessness of psychological pain, misery, devotion, loyalty, healing, reconciliation and ultimate fulfillment, are what set it apart from today's generation. It belongs to a different era, one which had the space to explore those themes of humanity, lost today. Like comparable epics, such as SCHINDLER'S LIST or THE LAST EMPEROR, it has the strength to move. But despite obvious artifice and incorrect historical detail which don't measure up to the book, it is more lasting than the present materialist mediocrity. What is more enduring; that or something richly achieved with conviction, purpose and
quasi-Shakesperean? I know which I would choose.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every time I see this I get charged,
It's definitely one of my favorites of all time because it's got stuff that most movies don't have: Everything. MGM and company unintentionally created a work of popular art that could only be fully appreciated in its original, pristine print, 70mm, super widescreen glory. It is no longer possible to make a film like Ben-Hur. Oh, George Lucas tries with all his computerized graphics, but this is a REAL spectacle, not some virtual one. 8,000 extras, tens of thousands of costumes, a $15 million budget (in the 1950's!), massive sets depict the power of Rome on the grandest possible scale. It took six years to complete production. Yet, its focus remains sharply on the detail, the private human experience of it all. The story doesn't get lost in the enormous vision of the work.
Ben-Hur is a drama at its best. It's the story of a family that had it all, was destroyed and then given their lives back. Ben Hur depicts both the best and worst of the Roman Empire, its glory and progress and the oppression of the less fortunate who lived under its rule.
There are two action scenes that really get my heart pounding each time this. First, the scene on the galley where the slaves are put through a grueling, forced rowing of their ship under the eye of General Quintus Arrius. The way that scene builds with the alternating of the camera from the slaves to the drums to the general, all the while picking up the pace, is quite riveting. Second, the chariot race. Some of the best action ever produced by Hollywood. The race itself keeps people on the edge of their seats. It appears to have been put together close to real time, which makes it all the greater.
Although the movie slows down after the race I am still moved by what happens later. The movie follows up with how Judah dealt with the festering anger inside him and what happens to his mother and sister. His love, Esther, helps the family and tries to console Judah. I really like the character of Esther that is portrayed.
Most of all, the greatest character of all in this movie is that of Christ. In Christ we see someone suffering without the hatred and vengeance that is so shown by Judah. A favorite scene of mine is when Christ gives Judah water to drink. The Roman commander orders him to stop. Jesus looks at him and the soldier is speechless. That says it all.
Charlton Heston has said that this movie could not be made today because of the prohibitive budget that would be required. Heston gives a sensitive and intelligent performance, as does most of the supporting cast. Ben-Hur's 11 Oscar nominations has been equaled by very few films. There have been similar efforts in the past (The Ten Commandments (50th Anniversary Collection), Cleopatra, etc.) but nothing matches the dramatic intimacy balanced with the epic extravagance of Ben-Hur. Truly a film in a class by itself and an actor that will be miss.
5.0 out of 5 stars BEN-HUR  [3-Disc Edition 50th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray] [UK Release],
This review is from: NEW Charlton Heston - Ben-hur (Blu-ray) (Blu-ray)
BEN-HUR  [3-Disc Edition 50th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray] [UK Release] METICULOUSLY RESTORED FRAME BY FRAME AND DIGITALLY REMASTERED!
Meticulously restored frame by frame and digitally re-mastered. This High-definition Blu-ray 3 disc masterpiece, hits greater heights with the arrival of this stunning visual splendour, thundering action and towering drama of this record-setting winner of 11 Academy Awards ® including Best Picture. Charlton Heston brings physical and moral presence to his Best Actor Oscar® winning his role of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman in Palestine, whose heroic odyssey includes enslavement by the Romans, vengeance against his tormentors during a furious arena spectacular chariot race and the fateful encounters with Jesus Christ, Best Director Oscar ® winner William Wyler masterfully grips the reign of an enduring and spellbinding spectacular. Narrated by Finlay Currie.
FILM FACT: Ben-Hur was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won an unprecedented 11. Ben-Hur also won three Golden Globe Awards – Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture for Stephen Boyd – and received a Special Achievement Award (which went to Andrew Marton for directing the chariot race sequence). Charlton Heston was nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama category, but did not win. The picture also won the BAFTA Award for Best Film, the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film, and the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Motion Picture for William Wyler's masterful direction.
Cast: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Cathy O'Donnell, Sam Jaffe, Finlay Currie, Frank Thring, Terence Longdon, George Relph, André Morell and Claude Heater
Director: William Wyler
Producer: Sam Zimbalist
Screenplay: Christopher Fry, Gore Vidal, Karl Tunberg, Maxwell Anderson and S. N. Behrman and
Composer: Miklós Rózsa
Cinematography: Robert L. Surtees
Aspect Ratio: 2.76:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 5.1 Dolby Digital, 5.1 Castilian Spanish, 5.1 Czech, 5.1 French, 5.1 German, 5.1 Italian, 5.1 Brazilian, 1.0 Portuguese, 1.0 Hungarian,
Subtitles: English, Brazilian Portuguese, Castilian, Spanish, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Latin Spanish, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Swedish and Thai
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 3
Running Time: 212 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
Andrew's Blu-ray Review – 2011 has been the most exciting year for the Blu-ray format thus far. Some of the most sought after catalogue titles have finally been, or are about to be, released - Star Wars, The Crow, Pulp Fiction, Taxi Driver, Scarface, Jurassic Park, The Lion King, just to name a few. These are surely some of the films that will help to define the year for most, but for me? I'm especially excited to see some of the best films of all time get the film-like restorations they deserved, not to mention the magnificent collector's packaging they've come in. Paramount presented us with a 6K restoration of The Ten Commandments in the first quarter, and it's easily the most impressive catalogue release to date (yes, even over you, The Wizard of Oz). Not to be outdone, Warner Bros. just gave us a masterful 4K restoration of Citizen Kane, and now no more than two weeks after the fact, Warner lands a follow-up hit for the knockout - With their own Charlton Heston epic, Ben-Hur, which also has been meticulously restored at 6K. The result? Warner's cell-by-cell restoration can only be described as 'wow' and totally awesome, and should absolutely stand as the final nail in the 'old movies can't look better in high-definition debate.
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is one of the most beloved literary classics of all time, and although it's seen numerous film iterations before (in 1907 and 1925, both of which were silent films), it was William Wyler's retelling in 1959 that really made 'Hur' a household name, and there's a host of reasons for that. The first of which being a story that's epic in both concept and scope - Judah Ben-Hur, a wealthy prince in Jerusalem, seemingly has it all. His people are kind to him, and in turn, he's kind to his people. Not in a 'worship me or it's a thousand lashes' kind of way, but he genuinely treats the people who serve him as equals, friends even. However, things change when Judah is visited by Messala, an old friend that now serves the Roman empire as a military tribune. The two get along swimmingly just as if old times were upon them, but it isn't long before Messala lays out a terrifying ultimatum: Judah must tell his people to roll over and be conquered, and if he doesn't, then Rome will take it by force. Judah insists he will do no such thing, and the two part ways. As promised, Rome's military marches into Judea with the understanding that their presence isn't welcome. Watching Judea's takeover from a roof top, a roof tile slips and strikes the governor appointed by Rome. Although Messala knows Judah is against violence and would never stoop low enough for such a stunt, he sees the situation as an opportunity. By turning on an old friend and his family, he could make the people of Judea fear him, so he promptly condemns Judah to the galleys and imprisons his mother and sister. Judah vows to one day return and have his vengeance.
Personally, I went a really long time in my life without paying any attention to the likes of The Ten Commandments or Ben-Hur, as I thought them to be religious films and honestly, I'm not exactly the religious type. That being said, when I did decide to put my bias aside and give them a try, I fell in love. There's so much to appreciate in Ben-Hur. Because of the massive set designs, insane amount of extras and wardrobe, and the finest details paid to the practical effects in the film, Ben-Hur is impressively immersive for a film that's 50 years old. Despite a running time that one would expect to make a film feel like it's dragging on forever, Ben-Hur is engaging from beginning to end for all of the reasons I've praised above. Even when the film isn't being 'busy' with a confrontation or action or anything else 'exciting', the character development is done well enough to ensure things move along at a nice clip. More importantly, Ben-Hur also seems to have quite a bit of replay value to it. I've seen it before, and now I've seen it again (for what seems like the first time thanks to the restoration on this disc, but we'll get to that in a minute)... yet I already feel like I want to schedule a little time to give it yet another screening. I don't care if you're 20 and have some kind of disposition that makes you think a film from the 1950's can't be good, or if you're 60 and have seen this film 15 times, then Ben-Hur is a timeless classic and one that I personally believe can be enjoyed by most everyone. If you've been hesitant because of its age, don't be. When people praise films as being timeless, this is the kind of film they're talking about. If you've been hesitant because of a possible religious element at play, don't worry. The religious aspects aren't so in your face they're preachy. Trust me, put these typical (yet understandable) concerns aside and see what you've been missing.
Blu-ray Video Quality – For many of you, I'm sure this is the part of the review you're most curious about. Although the previous DVD release looked okay, but has this 6K restoration (sourced from an 8K resoration) really served this film’s justice, being superior in high-definition in every perceivable way. Oh boy it is totally awesome. Ben-Hur's 1080p encoded transfer [2.76:1] is the most astonishing catalogue title I've ever seen. As I said at the beginning of the review. Anybody out there that still clings such ignorant claims as 'old things can't look any better in HD' should watch this Blu-ray and educate themselves in what film looks like, no matter the era it came from. Yes, make no mistake about it folks – Ben-Hur is the best looking release of 2011.
Film enthusiasts everywhere have needed to rejoice. There are so many titles (Warner Bros. typically a nasty offender here) that are a given a swift kick in the pants just so they can be pushed onto retail shelves, but Ben-Hur is exactly what film enthusiasts crave. The image has been faithfully preserved to retain natural grain structure, while also faithfully reproducing every last detail and colour to perfection. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this film looks better than it did during its theatrical debut. Not only does everything look immaculate up close and personal, but details in the distance look just as good as if you were looking out a window. I don't think I've ever written so much for a video portion of a review, but Ben-Hur deserves every word. Simply put, this release is a no brainer in terms of upgrading from your old DVD, as Ben-Hur's debut in high-definition is reference quality that every catalogue title should strive to achieve.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Unsurprisingly, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track also achieves perfection. The previous inferior DVD's, although sounding quite good, didn't exactly sound natural. Sound effects were a little loud for the track, probably just for the sake of being so. The same can be said for the score, which to my ears sounded like it was a little harsh at its peak moments. This has been rectified for this Blu-ray release, as the sound effects sound natural and 'fit' better in the overall sound design, and the score now sounds majestic instead of just noisy. Dialogue is always clean and crisp, and never sounds tinny. A good chunk of the track overall comes through the front speakers, and the most sound envelopment you get for the most part is hearing dialogue fade from left to right. There are some sound effects that come from the rears for ambience though, which completely took me by surprise for a film that's 50+ years, and they actually don't sound 'tacked on'. They too, sound natural. The entire sound stage actually gets rather rowdy during the sea battle and chariot scenes though, and you'll be impressed just by how immersive those scenes can be. Honestly, any and all of the faults that can be found in the sound design is just that, a fault of the sound design (most likely of the time). However, this is the most faithful representation of Ben-Hur I've ever heard, and is likely to be the best we'll ever hear. More top notch marks for a stunning release!
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Disc One and Two:
Newly re-mastered and restored from original 65mm film elements.
Commentary by Film Historian T. Gene Hatcher with scene specific comments from Charlton Heston: Commentary by T. Gene Hatcher with Charlton Heston - This is a little different than most commentary tracks we've accustomed to listening to, as Hatcher and Heston were recorded separately. Heston provides commentary for nearly a third of the film in bits and pieces, whereas film historian Hatcher fills in the rest of the time frame. Although you'd expect the commentary to be dry since the two people involved weren't in the same room to bounce off of one another, this couldn't be further from the truth. Heston remembers many details about his time filming Ben-Hur and is able to provide discussion that has a wealth of information and just as much as heart. Hatcher is very knowledgeable about the film and provides a very factual, yet thoughtful account in regards to the history of Ben-Hur and its production. It's a long movie, and a lengthy track (as it's continued on disc 2), but if you've seen this movie numerous times, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not listening to what these guys have to say, especially Heston. This really feels more like history than a commentary!
Music-only track showcasing Miklós Rózsa's score: The music-only track shines a beacon on Miklós Rózsa's 's glorious score, which could easily stand alone as a major symphonic work. The gifted composer brilliantly evokes the Biblical period with a majestic main theme, but his subtle underscoring of incidental moments lends the movie great warmth and fervor. Rarely does film music merit an isolated track, but Miklós Rózsa's exceptional, Oscar-winning score deserves to be not only heard, but honored, and thankfully Warner has done just that with this track.
Theatrical Trailers: 1959 Loew's Theater Teaser, 1959 Theatrical Trailer, 1961 General Release Trailer, 1961 General Release Trailer, 1969 70mm Re-issue Trailer.
Charlton Heston: A Personal Journey [78:00] This is an all new, feature length documentary in HD that chronicles Heston's life while filming the cinema changing Ben-Hur. Although making-of supplements have been made available on previous DVD releases, this is a much more personal look at what goes on behind the scenes, through the eyes of a film star and even his family. Not only does this documentary feature a great wealth of behind-the-scenes material, but it also includes some of Heston's personal home movies in the mix as well. This is truly an important addition to the set that almost makes the price of this boxed set worth the money alone, as it's truly any film historians dream come true.
Ben-Hur 1925 silent version, from the Thames Television restoration with stereophonic orchestral score by composer Carl Davis [143:00] Finally, out of the 'behind the scenes' sub-menu, we come to the silent film that preceded William Wyler's epic by 34 years. At nearly two and a half hours in length, the silent picture is interesting to see, although I admit it's not a style that I can really sit through entirely. What I did see was fairly impressive though - There were many more extras than I would have anticipated for a film this age, making the amount of costumes to be seen rather astonishing, and the picture quality is quite good considering. But, the rest is fairly typical for silent films of the era - Most of the physical acting and emoting are absolutely dreadful. Over-acted and almost comical to see, this really does destroy the epic-ness that this story deserved. I guess in 1925 though, you didn't have much choice! Still though, again, this is a great piece for such a historical collection contained within a box.
2005 Documentary: Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema--Current filmmakers such as Ridley Scott reflect on the importance and influence of the film on modern epics [58:00] This documentary appeared on the 2005 DVD release, and no expense seemed to spared in order to deliver the goods. Contained within are interviews with William Wyler and Charlton Heston, as well as some modern day filmmakers Ridley Scott and George Lucas and fans of the film alike. Whereas the previous documentary really goes as 'behind the scenes' as you can get, this one reflects mostly on the impact Ben-Hur had on cinema as a whole.
1994 Documentary: Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic, hosted by Christopher Plummer [58:00] Pretty much anything that wasn't mentioned in the detailed commentary or documentaries listed above is included here. This supplement details the path the story took from novelization (1880), to stage productions, to silent films (1907 and 1925), to the 1959 epic featuring Heston. Interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with members of the cast and crew that were on the scene are all included here. Consider this an 'overall' look at Ben-Hur's history through expressions and art.
Ben-Hur: A Journey Through Pictures – Audiovisual recreation of the film via stills, storyboards, sketches, music and dialogue: This is pretty much just a still gallery in motion, but it's worth taking a look at all the promo material that's here. This Blu-ray boxed set is seemingly very much geared towards those with an interest in cinematic history, so this shouldn't disappoint.
Screen Tests [30:00] Leslie Nielsen and Cesare Danova / Leslie Nielsen and Yale Wexter (without sound) / George Baker and William Russell, Haya Harareet Hair and Makeup Test (without sound).
Vintage Newsreels Gallery: Costliest Film Makes Screen History / The Night Ben-Hur Comes to Broadway / West Coast Welcomes Ben-Hur / VIP Opening: Capital Welcome for Ben-Hur / Japan's Emperor Goes to the Movies / Oscar Likes Ben-Hur.
Highlights from the 4/4/1960 Academy Awards® Ceremony [10:00] This lengthier look at the 1960 Academy Awards includes acceptance speeches from most of the 'Ben-Hur' winners. We see Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis, Haya Harareet, Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, and Eddie Fisher arriving at the gala, and such notable presenters as Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, Olivia de Havilland, Gene Kelly, and John Wayne. Wyler accepts both his own Best Director award and Hugh Griffith's supporting Oscar, and Sam Zimbalist's widow takes home the Best Picture honor for her recently deceased husband.
Theatrical Trailer Gallery [14:00] A trailer gallery showcases a teaser and four theatrical previews, all of which trumpet the movie's drama, spectacle, and inspirational nature.
Finally, 'Ben-Hur' is the quintessential epic, and this spectacular 50th Anniversary Edition from Warner may just be the quintessential Blu-ray collector's set. Boasting arguably the finest 1080p transfer of any classic film, exceptional audio, supplements galore and classy packaging, this is without question one of the top Blu-ray releases of the year and a must-own for every film aficionado. So clear some shelf space and give this thrilling Academy Award® winning film a prominent spot in your library, and enjoy the passion, spectacle, and, above all, the eye-popping, fully restored image of one of Hollywood's grandest and greatest achievements. So all in all I am so proud to have this in my Blu-ray Collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
5.0 out of 5 stars Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,
Prince Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston of Ten Commandments fame) was raised up with his best Roman buddy Messala (Stephen Boyd). Little did they know at the time that they would grow up become adversaries, and as a result this would lead to may adventures. In the process Judah leads many different lives that parallels and crosses the life of Jesus.
We see Judah in the mines, on the galleys, and even adopted by a roman Noble man as young Arrius. Mean time back at home his family is incarcerated by Messala leading to trials and tribulation that only Jesus can correct.
A lot of time and money went into this MGM production that netted 11 Academy Awards, along with many others such as BAFAT, David di Donatello, Directors Guild of America, Golden Globes, Laurel, Writers Guild of America, ...etc.
You will be so intrigued that you may not notice the 212+ minutes depending on the version.
One highlight, the chariot race was reproduced many times in various forms.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Presentation Of A Classic Film,
By A Customer
Ben-Hur is a classic. It made AFI's top 100 films list. It's chariot race is one of the great moments in film, inspiring Lucas' near shot for shot remake in The Phantom Menace. Others here and elsewhere have admirably debated the merits of this film as cinema. Rather than concentrate on the film, I'd like to review this DVD presentation.
- Excellent widescreen transfer. This disk is both dual layer and double sided. This nearly 4 hour film looks wonderful for its age.
- Excellent 5.1 mix from the original multitrack recording. The mix is relatively frequency limited and doesn't have the rumbling lows and crisp digital highs we've become accustomed to in modern films. This would have felt out of place on an almost 50 year old film.
- Excellent making of documentary. About an hour long, interesting and well produced.
- Heston's commentary is not full length. It is probably about 30-45 minutes. It is also not very interesting, consisting largely of "This was a great scene." style remembrances.
- They failed to mark which side of DVD is which! To make matters worse the onscreen menus look identical on both sides of the disk. I did eventually realize that there is a serial number printed on each side of the disk which can be used to differentiate the sides. When "65506.1.A US & Canada 212 MINS. WARNER HOME VIDEO" is face up in your DVD player that means you are about begin watching the first part of the film. Intuitive, no?
All in all a good presentation of a classic film, and a good value.
5.0 out of 5 stars Charlton Heston's grand triumph,
By A Customer
Superb story of the odyssey of Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur in his quest to find his mother and sister who are unjustly imprisoned by Roman tribune Messala. The film's thread is Ben-Hur's determination to destroy erstwhile boyhood friend Messala for which he is exiled into slavery, adopted by Quintus Arrius for saving his life during a sea battle and becomes an expert charioteer under the auspices of Arrius. These events set the stage for the excellent chariot race between Ben-Hur and Messala which is the focal point of the picture. This dangerous, grueling race runs a full nine minutes under the guidance of renowned second-unit director Yakima Canutt and Messala employs all manner of unsportsmanlike tactics against his rival, all to no avail. Ben-Hur's encounters with Jesus are poignant, as he receives a life-sustaining drink from him while being abused by his brutish Roman captors, and Judah returns the kind gesture to Jesus as he is forced to bear his cross on the way to his crucifixion.
5.0 out of 5 stars Bigger than Ben Hur? I don't think so!,
Ben Hur, William Wyler's best film, captured 11 Oscars in the year it was released. This feat remained until Titantic came along and was also matched this year by Lord of the Rings:Return of the King.
I'ts easy to see why this film did so well, it is brilliant in almost every way.
For those who don't know, Ben Hur tells the tale of a young prince of Judah named Judah Ben-hur, (Charlton Heston), who has a falling out with his boyhood friend Messala, (Stephen Boyd), that has dramatic repercussions. After an accident involving his sister and a Roman Governor, Judah and his family are locked away by Messala. This begins an epic story of faith and struggle. Judah ends up in as a galley slave on a Roman vessel. After he saves the lifeof the new Roman leader on the ship Quintus Arius, (a brilliant Jack Hawkins, Judah gains prominance as a Charioteer and gets his chance for revenge.
Along the way, Judah has a few very moving meetings with Jesus of Nazereth, this scenes are some of the most touching of the movie. Charlton Heston gives a fantastic performance as does Stephen Boyd. It's an epic movie in every sense of the word and the chariot race is worth the price of the dvd alone.
The only real weakness in this otherwise perfect film is the charecter Esther, (played by Haya Harareet), I really wish they cast Jean Simmons or Deborah Kerr in this part.
Ben Hur deserves it's reputation as one of the greatest epics of all time and is worth repeated viewers, like a fine wine it seems to get better with age. I look forward to watching it every year at Easter time.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece in Every Regard,
There are many reviews of Ben Hur here on Amazon, and those who say this is an incredible film are right on target. This is one of the all time masterpieces of film making. Superb acting, especially from Heston and Boyd (his finest performance), magnificently photographed in 65 mm wide screen, stereophonic sound and with one of the finest music scores ever written (Miklos Rozsa). What I wanted to add is that many have not seen this film because some see it as a "religious picture", and though it was written as a "tale of the Christ", it should be noted that when writing it, the author, General Lew Wallace, was NOT a religious man at all.. he was making a point of writing in defense of spirituality because he was upset with a man who was a "non-believer" (agnostic). In the process of writing the novel Ben Hur, he became a Christian. THIS FILM was made by a Jewish man, William Wyler... and intentionally written without showing Jesus' face or allowing the viewer to hear his voice. You never even see Jesus performing a miracle directly... only seeing the "miracle" at the end of the film INDIRECTLY through a heavy rainfall after the crucificion. THIS FILM is NOT about Jesus as much as it is about the futile and pointless exercise in revenge and anger. It is about loving thy neighbor and forgiveness.... Christian ideals for sure, but appealing to those of any faith that advocates peace, love and harmony. We are shown this by example in a fantasic story of epic proportions and that includes loads of emotion and tons of action. Easily a movie that deserves more than 5 stars.
5.0 out of 5 stars GREATEST INSPIRATIONAL RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE OF ALLTIME!!!!,
This review is from: Ben Hur (Widescreen) (VHS Tape)
"BEN-HUR" SURPASSES ALL OTHER BIBLICAL AND RELIGIOUS DRAMAS FOR ITS SHEER STRENGTH, POWER, MAJESTY, COURAGE, AND TEST OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT!!!! BREATHTAKINGLY SPECTACULAR IN CINEMATIC SCOPE, STORY, AND SCENERY!!!! A POWER OF THAT TESTS OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH TO THIS VERY DAY!!!! A SCREENPLAY OF RAW COURAGE, ORDEAL, BETRAYAL, AND SACRIFICE THAT TOUCHES THE HEART, AND BRINGS US ALL TO A GREATER FAITH AND A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORD LOVE!!!!
THE CAST IS OUTSTANDING CHARLTON HESTON, HAYA HARAREET, FRANK THRING, MARTHA HYER (WHO STARRED WITH HESTON ON PARAMOUNT'S 1956 EPIC "THE TEN COMMANDMENTS")!!!!
A FRIENDSHIP FROM CHILDHOOD IS TESTED!!!! TORN APART BY BETRAYAL AND HATRED OF TWO LANDS; ONE BOUND TO CONQUER ALL, THE OTHER TO LIVE IN PEACE!!!! UNTIL THE PRESENCE OF ONE MAN CHANGED THE LIVES OF ALL MANKIND FOREVER!!!! A MAN WHO WALKED IN PEACE; THEN LAYED HIS LIFE DOWN FOR THE REMISSION OF MAN'S SINS.
THIS IS BY FAR THE GREATEST TALE EVER WRITTEN ABOUT JESUS OF NAZARETH!!!! WHERE IN "KING OF KINGS" JEFFERY HUNTER PORTAYED THE LIVING REPRESENTATION OF JESUS; IN "BEN HUR" JESUS WAS A SPIRITUAL REPRESENTATION!!!! (YOU NEVER SAW HIS FACE, ONLY FROM HIS BACK; YOU NEVER HEARD HIM SPEAK!!!!)
SEEING JESUS REPRESENTED ON THE SILVER SCREEN, WITHOUT FACE OR VOICE WAS MORE BEAUTIFUL AND INSPIRATIONAL THAN ONE COULD IMAGINE!!!! MOST IMPRESSIVE WAS HIS "SERMON ON THE MOUNT" SEQUENCE, WHERE HAYA HARAREET ATTENDED, FACING FRANK THRING AS PONTIUS PILATE WHO WASHES HIS HANDS FOR HIS EXECUTION, (NOTE THE HORRIBLE SCOURGING LASHES ON JESUS'S BACK, AS WELL AS THE CROWN OF THORNS ON HIS HEAD), HIS APPEARANCE BEFORE BEN HUR (CHARLTON HESTON) AS HE RECIEVES WATER, AND HIS FINAL CRUCIFIXION WHICH IS HELD OFF IN THE DISTANCE; HERE IS FACE CANNOT BE RECOGNIZED!!!!
THEN THE POINT OF HIS DEATH; THE UNMISTAKABLE LONG ROLLING THUNDER (AND DARKENING SKIES), CRESHENDOING INTO A MIGHTY STORM; THE CULMINATION OF HIS PROPHOSY; THE PURIFICATION OF ALL SINNERS; THE CLEANLINESS OF THE SICK EVERYWHERE!!!!
FILLED WITH INTENSE DRAMA, HIGH EMOTION, AND INCREDIBLE SPECTACLE, "BEN HUR" WILL TOUCH YOUR HEART LIKE NEVER BEFORE!!!!
THE CHARIOT RACES ARE AWESOME!!!! INTENSELY FILMED WITH DANGER AT EVERY LEVEL!!!!
THE MOST EMOTIONAL SCENES OF THE FILM FOR ME, TAKE PLACE DURING THE LAST HOUR OF THE FILM, AS IT REACHES ITS MOST ENDEARING CLIMAX!!!!
FILLED WITH A POWER INSPIRATION MUSIC SONDTRACK BY THE GREAT MIKLOS ROZA (KING OF KINGS; EL CID)
THE CIVIL WAR OFFICER WHO WROTE THIS STORY, NEVER COULD DREAM THAT ONE DAY THAT SUCH AN EPIC MASTERPIECE WOULD EVER BE CREATED!!!! THIS VERSION OUTDOES THE SILENT VERSION!!!!
WINNER OF 11 ACADEMY AWARDS, INCLUDING BEST PICTURE OF 1959, "BEN HUR" WILL ALWAYS LIVE AS A JUBILATION AND A TESTIMONY
TO A GROWING CHRISTIAN FAITH AT TIME OF TYRANNY AND OPPRESION!!!! I GIVE THE MOST STARS OF RATINGS 25 STARS!!!! WHICH STANDS FOR ONE THING: ETERTAL!!!!
5.0 out of 5 stars GREATEST SPECTACLE OF ALLTIME!!!!,
This review is from: Ben Hur (Widescreen) (VHS Tape)
THERE ARE NO OTHER WORDS TO DESCRIBE THIS MASTERPIECE EXCEPT "AWE-INSPIRING, THUNDERING AND MAJESTIC!" AN EPIC THAT WILL SWEEP YOU INTO ADVENTURE AND GREAT FAITH LIKE NONE OTHER BEFORE IT! HERE WE SEE THE AND FEEL THE SPIRIT AND PRESENCE OF THE DIVINE JESUS OF NAZARETH, INSTEAD OF THE LIVING REPRESENTATION AS BEAUTIFULLY PORTRAYED WITH GREAT COMPASSION AS JEFFERY HUNTER DID AS IN "KING OF KINGS!!!!" THE STORY, LIKE THE NOVEL, IS FILLED WITH SWEEPING VISTAS! FROM THE GREAT CHARIOT RACES MAGNIFICENTLY PORTRAYED TO THE FINAL HOURS OF THE HEARTRENDERING CRUCIFIXION AND DEATH OF THE MESSIAH, TO THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND THE GREAT MIRACLE THAT AWAITED YOUNG HUR, THIS FILM KEEPS THE EMOTION AND DRAMA FOREVER A KEEPSAKE OF MONUMENTAL PROPORTIONS. QUITE STRIKING, WAS THE DARKENING SKIES AND THE GROWING CRESENDO OF THUNDER WIND, AND FINALLY LIGHTNING SIGNIFYING THE GREAT SACRIFICE OF OUR DEAR LORD AND THE FORGIVENESS OF ALL SINS! "BEN-HUR" IS A TESTIMONY OF GREAT CINEMATIC ACHIEVEMENT AND THE TEST AND THE FAITH OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT! IT WILL BE REMEMBERED AND CHERISHED FOREVER! THIS IS CHARLTON HESTON'S GREATEST FILM!
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Ben Hur - Limited Edition Collectors DVD Box Set [Import] by William Wyler (DVD - 2002)
Used & New from: CDN$ 143.43