After settling his differences with a Japanese P.O.W. camp commander, a British Colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors, while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
The story takes place in feudal Japan, when any commerce with the rest of the world was strictly prohibited. An idealist suddenly appears in an isolated inn (the one that the title refers ... See full summary »
Judah Ben-Hur lives as a rich Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century. Together with the new governor his old friend Messala arrives as commanding officer of the Roman legions. At first they are happy to meet after a long time but their different politic views separate them. During the welcome parade a roof tile falls down from Judah's house and injures the governor. Although Messala knows they are not guilty, he sends Judah to the galleys and throws his mother and sister into prison. But Judah swears to come back and take revenge.Written by
Matthias Scheler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
According to Gore Vidal's interview in The Celluloid Closet (1995), Ben-Hur and Messala were former lovers and Messala betrayed Ben-Hur because their relationship ended. According to Vidal, he discussed this with Stephen Boyd (Messala) ahead of shooting, but this information was hidden from Charlton Heston because it was felt that he could not handle it. After Vidal's interview, Heston vehemently denied that Ben-Hur had any homosexual subtext or that Vidal had any real involvement with writing the script. Vidal responded by quoting extracts from Heston's 1978 autobiography "An Actor's Life", in which Heston admitted that Vidal had written much of the finished screenplay. Wherein Vidal added a gay subtext between Ben-Hur and Messala, all of the other "Ben-Hur" screenwriters - Karl Tunberg, Maxwell Anderson, S.N. Behrman, and Christopher Fry - added two conflicts between the two characters, which revolved around (1) one's devotion to his country and one's devotion to God; and (2) how one person can be redeemed after replacing his/her humanity with hatred and vengeance. Upon receiving the Academy Award for Best Actor of 1959, Heston had only one "Ben-Hur" screenwriter to thank in his acceptance speech: Christopher Fry. See more »
When Judah and Messala argue in the courtyard of Judah's home, road noise and honking horns from cars can be heard in the background. For some reason, it was not removed from the soundtrack in post prodction. See more »
[on Arrius' orders, Judah is left unlocked for the upcoming battle; Judah touches his unchained ankle, bewildered]
Rower No. 42:
Forty-one, why did he do that?
I don't know.
Once before, a man helped me. I didn't know why then.
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The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion is shown in a still-frame to appear looking peaceful at the beginning rather than roaring. See more »
The first DVD release had an "Intermission" title card printed in a different font from the one used in the theatrical film and on the second, 4-disc DVD release. See more »
The same quality that made epics like "Gone with the Wind," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Doctor Zhivago," and, ultimately, "Titanic" the memorable stories they were is present in spades in "Ben-Hur." These are stories, though told on canvases far vaster than the CinemaScope- or Panavision-sized movie screens they were meant for, succeed because, in their best moments, they focus on the interaction between and history of as few as two characters.
What begins as a childhood friendship between a Roman boy and a Jewish boy in Roman-occupied Palestine, becomes, briefly, a politically-charged rivalry, and ultimately, a search for revenge by one upon the other.
Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd deliver the performances of their careers, and get to chew up scenery and sets of such grandeur that Hollywood could never afford their like again.
This film, the greatest epic film ever made, deserves every accolade heaped upon it. The modern viewer may have to apply some patience, but at the end of the nearly four hour running time will find themselves to be vastly rewarded for it. You will find your life changed by both the scale of the film and the intimate message of friendship, betrayal, revenge--and the power of forgiveness.
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