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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Major Classic,
MGM at its peak, with a very capable acting group. Carries a fantasy story about a man who eventually becomes a Christian. Without many of the distortions about Jesus and gives a fairly accurate view of life under Roman domination and corruption, however clearly missing the true nature of Jewish rebellion and the religous hypocrisy that existed at that time. Much of the picture does not deal with the religous opposition Jesus faced and their role in turning Jesus over to the Romans. However it does accurately protray how many Jews were attracted to Jesus message and flocked to him and adopted his teaching.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very intense,
A "must watch" collection... dramatic, intense, uplifting, interesting, and scary at times, showing courage and bravery, agony and victory. I would say; "All you need to know what could happen during a life time."
5.0 out of 5 stars Permanently excellent movie.,
This review is from: Ben Hur (Bilingual) [Import] (DVD)
The overall story, the acting by the main actors and the music of this movie were simply excellent and elegant.
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!,
This review is from: NEW Ben-hur (DVD) (DVD)
The movie was brand new and came quickly in the mail. This movie is a classic and and was wonderful being able to see it again.
5.0 out of 5 stars Ben-Her,
One of our favorates. We watch this movie every holiday. Love the no commurial interuptions. The scenes are breath taking. You can almost feel thier pain.
5.0 out of 5 stars Life in those days,
When I first saw this movie it indicated to degree what the times in those days may very weel have been like and tunjust manner in which poeple were treated in those days and what might heave occurred when sometimes it was corrected durong the time that occrrured during the time of the Roman Empire's conquest of the verious parts of what we know as the middle east.
5.0 out of 5 stars Ben Hur (1959 movie),
This review is from: NEW Ben-hur: Ultimate Collector's - Ben-hur: Ultimate Collector's (Blu-ray) (Blu-ray)
This movie is done perfectly - no wonder received 11 Oscars.
Good action, very nice decorations and costiumes. Charlton Heston plays Ben Hur great.
Very touchy!, maybe because I am Katholic.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Classic Blu-rays,
This review is from: NEW Charlton Heston - Ben-hur (Blu-ray) (Blu-ray)
When I first saw Ben-Hur on VHS, I remember being wowed by the spectacle. When it was released on DVD, I was still wowed, but also disappointed with the faded colour palate which made it seem like a lesser epic in comparison to Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge on the River Kwai.
Well, it is faded no more! This blu-ray presentation is in a word spectacular. The colours are full and vivid and detail is ever-present. This movie looks so good on blu-ray my entire opinion of the film itself has been raised.
I've seen some pretty great video quality from blu-ray restorations of classic films, but Ben-Hur may just be the best of them all.
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Ben-Hur (50th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray] by william wyler (Blu-ray)