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When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.



(novel) (as General Lew Wallace), (screenplay)
2,245 ( 75)
Top Rated Movies #192 | Won 11 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Balthasar / Narrator
Terence Longdon ...
George Relph ...


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 <tron@lyssa.owl.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A Tale of the Christ See more »


Adventure | Drama | War


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

26 December 1959 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$15,900,000 (estimated)


$70,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (1970) | (1962) | (1993 re-release) | (DVD edition) | (2005 DVD)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film's budget ballooned to $10 million, nearly 50% higher than the original budget. Joseph Vogel president of Loew's, MGM's parent company, came over from New York to say that there was growing concern among the board and stockholders over the picture. He asked William Wyler if there was anything he could do to help; the director politely answered "No, thank you," and continued shooting. Vogel left for a five-week European business trip. When he returned to the set, Wyler had returned to pick up the scene he had been shooting on Vogel's last day before his trip, now improved by some new wording from Fry. The nervous company boss wondered if they had been filming the same scene the entire time. See more »


Most of the Roman soldiers seen are not displaying the Roman Army's "Winged Lightning" symbol on their shields. See more »


Esther: Oh, Judah, rest. Sleep. For a few hours of the night, let your mind be at peace.
Judah Ben-Hur: [bitterly] Peace! Love and peace. Do you think I don't long for them as you do? Where do you see them?
Esther: If you had heard this man from Nazareth...
Judah Ben-Hur: Balthasar's word.
Esther: He is more than Balthasar's word. His voice traveled with such a still purpose... It was more than a voice... a man more than a man! He said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion is shown in a still-frame to appear looking peaceful at the beginning rather than roaring. See more »


Referenced in TRON (1982) See more »


Triumphal March From Quo Vadis
Written by Miklós Rózsa
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Longer Than The Actual Life Of Christ
5 July 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Spoilers Ahead:

Before we discuss boredom of which no other movie, including Gone With The Wind, even approaches could we go over an ethical problem with this alleged masterpiece? Why does Judah detest Rome? Is it the: roads, canals, law, philosophy, architecture? No, he hates Rome because they own slaves. Yes, Judah, slave owning is morally detestable. Judah, yelling with spittle flying, says."The day Rome falls there will be such a cry of freedom such as the world has never heard." Guess what happens next? Judah's slaves arrive seeking their master's permission for the hot daughter to get married. Hey, the slaves love Judah and he them, see, they really are slaves in name only. Nice try, monkey boy Wyler, it is legendary moral hypocrisy. Right at the beginning of such a sanctimonious, boring, pretentious piece of crap. The only scene, in the history of film, that this resembles is in Casablanca when Captain Renault says,"I was shocked, shocked to discover that gambling was taking place here." One of Rick's workers hands him his winnings which he quickly hides in his uniform. That was played for laughs; this is supposed to be so solemn.

After Judah gets arrested, the film slows down to rock erosion speed. He wanders around in chains, looking for Luke evidently. When I woke up again, a half hour later, there is a sea battle, apparently in Wyler's toddler's bathtub with flaming toothpicks going between his little boy's boats. I was looking for the rubber duck. Judah rescues Arrius and another forty five minutes of fingernail growth speed narrative ensues. When I next jolted awake there was a procession to meet the emperor Claudius that was longer than his actual reign. Judah then wanders around the desert, looking for the script, dates a few camels and falls in love with some horses. That really starched my shorts, I cannot take this kind of tension. We are then treated to training for the big race; a training that makes Luke's training with Yoda look like a sneeze.

Do you like really nauseating, maudlin music like in E.T.? See, the country was all devout Christian when this was released so every perambulation of Christ, including the requisite miracles, comes with the most mawkish, gooey music this side of The Sound Of Mucus. Please, stop insulting Cecil B. DeMille, this movie is not even close to being the exciting, well made Ten Commandments. That had a far superior cast, director and things actually happened: plagues, exodus, parting of the Red Sea. Yes, the chariot race: round and round, round and round, twenty minutes of round and round. That put the crease in my pants. Boring! Oh, Massala rams other chariots with his spiked wheels, what tension, what excitement? Could we pick a narrative: Christ or Judah? See, every time the movie begins to come out of coma; we come to a screeching halt for the obligatory chunk of the Christ story. Come on, pick one we are dying out here.

The movie defies viewing in a single day. Even if you break it into two days, it is the most boring, sanctimonious, pretentious piece of poop ever made. Other than Boyd, Heston and Hawkins nobody in support can act a scene. The narrative jumps back and forth; it wrecks the movie. Neither story is told well, Wyler stinks as a director. Garth, can't you say anything nice about Ben Hur? Yes, I use the line Ramming Speed when I am driving; it comes in handy for idiots who move like this movie. Worse Than A Root Canal

7 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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