Ben-Hur (1959 movie)

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Ben-Hur

Original movie poster by Reynold Brown
Directed by William Wyler
Produced by Sam Zimbalist
Screenplay by Karl Tunberg
Uncredited:
Gore Vidal
Christopher Fry
Maxwell Anderson
S. N. Behrman
Narrated by Finlay Currie
Starring Charlton Heston
Jack Hawkins
Haya Harareet
Stephen Boyd
Hugh Griffith
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Cinematography Robert L. Surtees
Editing by John D. Dunning
Ralph E. Winters
Studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Distributed by Loew's Inc.
Release date(s) November 18, 1959 (1959-11-18)
Running time 212 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Money made $146,900,000 (initial release)

Ben-Hur is an epic movie of the sword and sandal genre released in 1959. It was directed by William Wyler. It stars Charlton Heston as Ben-Hur and Stephen Boyd as Messala. It is set in Ancient Rome and Ancient Judea. It tells of two men - one a Jewish prince and the other a Roman tribune - whose friendship turns to bitter hatred. The climax of the movie is a 9-minute chariot race and the crucifixion of Jesus. The movie won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The movie is based on the 1880 novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace. A silent movie on the same subject was made in 1925.

Cast[change | change source]

Story[change | change source]

The story is about Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century. Judah's childhood friend Messala returns home as an ambitious commanding officer of the Roman legions. The two men realize that they have changed and hold very different views. During a military parade, a tile falls from the roof of Judah's house. It barely misses the Roman governor. Although Messala knows that they are not guilty, he condemns the Ben-Hur family. Without trial, Judah is sent to the Roman galleys for life; his mother and sister are imprisoned and all the family property is confiscated.

Through good fortune, Judah survives and returns to Jerusalem, where he seeks revenge against his one-time friend and redemption for his family. Running in parallel with Ben-Hur's narrative is the unfolding story of Jesus,[1] who comes from the same region and is a similar age. The two reflect themes of betrayal, conviction and redemption. With the Crucifixion, Ben-Hur recognizes that the Christ stands for a different goal than revenge, and he becomes Christian, turning to supporting the new religion with money which he has inherited, inspired by love and the talk of keys to a greater kingdom than any on earth.

References[change | change source]

  1. Powell, Allan (1999) Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee. Westminster/John Knox Press p25 ISBN 0-664-25703-8