Review - Ben-Hur (1959)
Delorted - wrote on 04/12/08
After Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) is betrayed by his friend Messala (Stephen Boyd), he is sent into slavery. While on his journey for revenge, he meets Jesus of Nazareth (Claude Heater), which later becomes a vital part of his journey in the Best Picture winning "Ben-Hur."
I remember a few years ago when Mel Gibson released "The Passion of the Christ" and everybody thought it was THE religious movie. After watching “Ben-Hur,” I wonder if any of them had sat through the 3+ hours and understood the masterpiece. I also wonder how anybody could like that garbage that Gibson passed off as being spiritual when all it was was a gorefest for simple-minded Christians to see, but that's for another review (maybe I'll do that one next Easter).
Heston's acting is phenomenal and he, as well as the picture itself, deserved the highest honors they received. I also thought Haya Harareet (as Esther) gave a very good performance, even though she was not as rewarded. The cinematography isn't shown off to its fullest until the infamous chariot race, which is one of the most epic scenes in film history.
I have to admit, at first (and by first I mean at the intermission) I wasn't sure about the writing. The story of Jesus being intertwined with the story of Ben-Hur's revenge didn't seem to add up. But in the end, even though it's not explained thoroughly, we end up with a great story that couldn't have been told any other way. Everything comes together and the message, though semi-subtle, is beautiful.
“Ben-Hur” will not please everyone. It's very long and tends to get preachy here and there, but if you want a good story but don't happen to believe in the story line, you still get your money's worth. For Christians, it's a must-see.
Final Score: 9/10