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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Format: Blu-ray|Change
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MGM originally filmed the movie in Camera 65. Video resolution now is 1080p with 2.76:1 aspect ratio. The film has been spread across the set's first two discs (BD-50) with the break coming at the film's intermission. The work on this release began several years ago and has involved a $1 million restoration frame by frame from an 8k scan of the original 65mm camera negative. It had been hoped to have the work completed in time for a 2009 release (hence the 50th anniversary designation that still appears in the release title), but the meticulous process took longer than expected and to Warners' credit, they did not rush it to meet an artificial marketing deadline.

The extreme width (2.76:1) is requisite to convey the breadth and grandeur of the settings, and when you see the Roman legions marching from one end of the screen to the other, you know it's wide. And all those spectators in the stand are not digital artifacts, but real people.

To complement the screen's vast dimensions, the colour and definition are superb. Indeed, the high-definition image is spectacular, beautifully restored and remastered from 65 mm elements, remarkably detailed, always sharp, always brilliantly in focus, and more clearly delineated than ever before. Grain is handled extraordinarily well. Colours look vividly deep, particularly reds and blacks, accompanied by pinpoint definition, and have been treated with utmost care: even the skin tones (typically a trouble spot for films from the 50s and 60s) come off cleanly and accurately. Black levels are also rock-solid. The halos and edge enhancement that marred the earlier 4-disc DVD editions have been erased completely. The picture quality is so rich, and the dimension so vast, the resultant picture on my 12 foot wide screen using anamorphic lens is simply breathtaking. (5/5)


The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is a force of nature - it's a perfect way to enjoy Ben-Hur's original sound design. This mix is decidedly front-heavy - as it was originally intended - but opens up in action sequences in order to augment an already exciting stereo mix. Dialogue sounds spit-shined perfect. Miklos Rozsa's score is placed into the soup with clarity and robust, dynamic punch, and the action scenes literally sizzle with exemplary exploitation of atmospherics and sound effects. (4/5)

I always enjoy the music of Miklos Rozsa. He is always regarded today as one of the greatest film score composers of all time. In a career that spanned over fifty years, he composed music for nearly 100 films, including Spellbound (1945), Quo Vadis (1951), Ivanhoe (1952), El Cid (1961), and King of Kings (1961). In Ben Hur, he won an Oscar for Best Music Score. His original long-case 2 CD box set of the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Ben Hur, released in 1996 by Rhino, is a nice complement to this movie.

Ben Hur is considered as an epic movie. At the time, it was the most-expensive movie ever made, and its rewards were not only to become a box-office smash but to earn a record-breaking eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture (Sam Zimbalist died during filming due to stress, and his wife accepted the award on his behalf), Best Director (Wyler), Best Actor (Charlton Heston), Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffin) and Best Cinematography (Robert Surtee, who had also won in King Solomon's Mines, and The Bad And The Beautiful). This record was not equalled until the arrival of Titanic!

The film's major drawback, its extreme length, may also be for many viewers among its chief strengths. I found much of the middle portion of the film flagging, but the length enables a good deal of character growth, and it gives extended time for the chariot race. Legendary stunt man Yakima Canutt was second-unit director on "Ben-Hur," and he was responsible for staging the action and training Heston to do much of his own chariot driving.

In addition to William Wyler's 1959 remake of "Ben-Hur," the Blu-ray set includes the original 1925 silent version as well, directed by Fred Niblo and starring Ramon Novarro as Judah Ben-Hur and Francis X. Bushman as Messala. The movie is 143 minutes long, mostly in black-and-white. This "Ultimate Collector's Edition" also contains a 128-page replica of Charlton Heston's journal and sketches (he avidly kept notes on each of his movies), and a 64-page hardbound book of text and rare photos. They are housed in a handsome box, all of which I will treasure.

This Ultimate Collector's Edition's package is similar in size to that of The Sound Of Music, Wizard Of Oz, Gone With The Wind and The Ten Commandments. Putting them next to each other in one place forms a nice way to display all these beautiful box sets.

As noted before, this monstrous epic took home eleven Academy Awards and almost single-handedly made Charlton Heston a superstar. It's required viewing for anyone who even slightly cares about what big-budget epics from the olden days of Hollywood looked like. If you don't care about the extra goodies (thus higher price), I am sure that movie-only blu ray disc will be eventually released next year (just like movie-only discs for Wizard Of Oz and Gone With The Wind, being released now). With the state-of-the-art video and Miklos Rozsa's music, this is definitely The Ultimate version of Ben Hur. This box set is also a Limited Edition of 125,000, with each set numbered (mine 64,402), Lastly, thank you to Warner for spending time and money to restore this epic film to its original glory and splendor. This "52th" Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition is definitely worth the wait and is very highly recommended.
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on April 26, 2016
Beautiful print of the Heston version. Interesting watching the silent version though the quality of the print could have been improved. Nice packaging and interesting materials such as Heston's journal.
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on December 26, 2011
As one of my favourite movies, I don't ever recall viewing the movie with such a pristine and clear video image. The colours absolutely pop off the screen in this blu-ray version and I don't think I spotted a video flaw or artifact anywhere. Picking up this blu-ray with the added goodies, at the price that I paid, was a fantastic deal for any Ben Hur fan. I haven't even gotten through the hours of extras yet! There is just so much crammed into one package. Highly recommended!
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on January 18, 2012
Ce classique a bénéficié d`une excellente restauration.Les images sont très belles et la bande sonore est parfaite.Un pur plaisir pour les cinéphiles.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 27, 2014
Included with this Collector's Edition are these interesting extras: a documentary of Charlton Heston and Ben-Hur - A Personal Journey; the 1925 silent version; vintage special features; production art book and a 64 page book with rare photos. I have to smile when I hear people complain today about how long a movie is (2 hours) compared to epics like this one of 3 1/2 hours. We watched it over two evenings.

For a movie made in 1959, Ben-Hur proved to be a magnificent undertaking, which is why I gave it 5 stars. Even by today's standards with all the available technology and special effects, Ben-Hur is still considered a remarkable production. Some of the sets are stunning and the sea battle and chariot race are intense and totally convincing. The photography during the chariot race could rival anything that might be done today.

Ben-Hur was a winner of 11 Academy Awards. The storyline tended to be a bit confusing in a couple of places, and was slow moving in the beginning, but overall it kept us involved until the end. The costuming was carefully researched and proved very authentic. The casting for the roles was quite good with one exception. The actress chosen to play Esther, the young slave girl loved by Judah Ben-Hur, was miscast. Surrounded by people speaking English in a certain accent (mainly American), she plays her part with an accent that not even her father has. Also, the characters in the movie were dressed according to the environment (read "dirty" and mostly "poor" here), yet this former slave girl wears beautiful, clean clothes, has not a hair out of place in her elaborate hair-do, and flawless make-up throughout the story.

The other note I would like to make is that I would prefer that when the Bible is used as part of a story, that it be accurately presented. A part of the crucifixion in this story was changed, probably to provide more drama. Other than that, there is some good history presented here in the storyline, especially the cruelty of Rome toward the Jews in general and by some of its leaders in particular. We'll be watching this again sometime in the future, and I recommend this for older teens and adults only because of the violence and bloodshed.
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on December 14, 2013
I had bought this as a gift for my brother in law. Part of me wishes I had bought it for myself! I opened it to ensure that nothing was missing and was amazed at how pleasantly it was packed and arranged. If you are someone who loves the movie Ben-Hur then this is the best edition you could possibly want!
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on December 20, 2014
At the climactic moment at the end of the film, the music track echoes an hallelujah chorus. I could almost sing that all the way through this blu-ray. The remastered hi def image looks spectacular. It's a major upgrade from the 4-disk anniversary DVD issued a few years ago. The other special features from that disk are part of this package as well: two interesting and informative documentaries on the making of the film and the influence the film has had over the years and the 1925 silent production.
In addition to the improved image, upgrades from the previous DVD anniversary package are a glossy picture book describing the production -- a slight but worthwhile read -- and a retrospective looking at what playing Judah Ben-Hur meant in the life and career of Charlton Heston which adds an important personal touch to the package.
This set will give hours of entertainment, not just the three-and-a-half hours of the main feature. The two-and-a-half hour 1925 silent is an impressive film in its own right, every bit as spectacular and innovative for its time as the 1959 version. And (unlike too many other disc packages, where the extras are little more than long promotional pieces) the supplemental documentaries will bear repeat viewing, at least for those interested in film history and studies.
The combination of features about the film and its star make this a doubly interesting package.
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on November 28, 2011
My wife is a BIG fan of BEN-HUR and Ten Commandments. I am writing this review as she is watching it right now :-)

I ordered this firstly because My Wife loves it and can watch it again and again and second because gave an amazing 50% off for one day only on the 50th Anniversary Blue Ray Edition. Mine is 55706 of 125000.

I am very selective of the Blue Ray titles I choose mainly because I been buying these movies in almost all the formats. First in CD then in DVD and now in Blue Ray. Now since only DVD's can be watched for now with an acceptable print on 1080p screen, I dont buy the Blue Ray Versions unless I the video and audio are amazing and sometime in future my children will enjoy these amazing movies.

I must say I didnt expect the box to be huge. Amazon always ships items well packaged. Full points to them.

Once we popped in the Blue Ray, my wife and I went WOW just by looking at the colors and clarity of the video. I have a Sony HX800 Screen and Sony BDP-S570 Blue Ray Player so that also helps. Sound is also superb.

Some sections you can see a bit of focus issues / softness issues but i am sure that was how it was recorded.

I would recommend this as an excellent Blue Ray disk for a person who is interested in collecting the best of the best movies, (video and audio and story).

If you are not so bothered about Video and Audio and just want to see Ben-Hur for the sake of the story then pick up a dvd, but if you get a chance watch the blue ray. It has been re-mastered very well.

I hope this helps you guys.
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on January 7, 2013
I'll keep it short, as many others have made the same comments, but the picture quality is simply amazing! The colours pop off the screen. You would think the movie was made yesterday. The sound is also excellent, even more amazing when you consider the film is over 50 years old. Some parts of the film have aged better than others. (There are definitely parts that are a little slow by today's standard, and some of the special effects are not so special any more, like the galley battle at sea), but for the chariot race alone it is worth owning, just to wow your friends. Hearing the score by Miklos Rosza in Dolby lossless makes it an even more worthwhile investment. This is a movie you actually want to watch the opening credits every time just to hear the incredible music.
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on October 31, 2011
Ben Hur has been a favorite since I first saw it with my parents in 1959. Many things which are impressive to a youngster are less so many years later as an adult, and despite being encouraged by the glowing reviews of the Blu-ray edition, I wondered how the film experience would measure up more than 50 years later. Although billed as a 50th anniversary edition, the extensive restoration of the film delayed the Blu-ray until 2 years after the actual anniversary. The wait was worth it. The film has been flawlessly restored, including a powerful rendition of Miklos Rosa's Academy Award winning score. And yes, the experience fully lived up to my memories from childhood. This film, particularly in its Blu-ray version, is a must-own for fans of classic Hollywood.
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