Thursday, January 30, 2014

01/30: Ben-Hur (1959)

Let me be clear: usually I don't like associating religion in my writing, because it's all too controversial. I relate with Christians, Middle Eastern religions, atheists, and many others. Ben-Hur, released in 1959, is without doubt, one of the greatest biblical epics of all-time. So yes, I will be talking about what Christians believe from this movie.

The story, as I hope to tell the short version of it: Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) plays a wealthy Jew from Jerusalem who reunites with his childhood friend, Messala, after several years. Messala is more powerful than ever, and he is willing to show his loyalty to the Roman empire by asking Ben-Hur the names of his townspeople that criticize Romans. Ben-Hur refuses, and their friendship goes out the window. Later, Ben-Hur and his family are accused of attempted murder to the new Governor during a parade, and they are split apart as Ben-Hur gets thrown into slavery, while his mother and sister are sent to prison. They would be separated for a number of years. The ladies contract leprosy while in prison and get sent to a lepers colony. Meanwhile, Ben-Hur plans for revenge as he tries to rise back up the ranks. Several things happen, while at the same time, he has encounters with Jesus Christ.

The film is more than 3 hours long including an interlude and an intermission. This won't be the first time I say this: I'm not much of a fan of long movies. By long, I mean more than 2 1/2 hours. I understand that before the seventies, sequels were largely unheard of. But it is also fair to note that several long movies have become classics, critics choices, and award-winners. By the end of the movie, I'll admit it didn't seem like it was 212 minutes long!

You may be familiar with its accolades: it was the first film to win 11 Oscars (including Best Picture). That would be tied nearly 40 years later with Titanic and eventually Lord of the Rings: Return Of The King. There are several things worth noting. It had one of the largest budgets of all-time, as well as the most number of extras for a time. Some of the sequences took very much effort, most notably the horse race scene. And of course, the performance of Charlton Heston.

I'll say it: this movie is definitely worth your four hours of time.

My rating: 7 out of 10

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