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Ben-Hur (1959)

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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)
1,240 ( 620)
Top Rated Movies #195 | Won 11 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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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


The Entertainment Experience of a Lifetime! See more »


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

29 January 1960 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$15,900,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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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 ten million dollars nearly fifty percent higher than the original budget. Joseph Vogel president of MGM's parent company Loew's Inc., came over from New York to say that there was growing concern among the board of directors 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 was reshooting the scene he had been working on when Vogel had left for his trip five weeks previously, now improved by some new dialogue from Christopher Fry. The nervous company boss wondered if they had been filming the same scene the entire time. See more »


As stated, the MGM lion is a frozen frame as the film opens - Leo doesn't roar. This was not done as suggested to convey calm or out of respect for the religious theme, but because Wyler wanted to open the very first frame of the film with Rózsa very dramatic score. For this to be fully effective, the roar had to go. This very similar to what Fox did with 'The Robe', another religious themed epic opening immediately with the Newman score on the very first frame and skipping the standard Fox logo and fanfare track. See more »


Messala: Look to the West, Judah! Don't be a fool, look to Rome!
Judah Ben-Hur: I would rather be a fool than a traitor... or a killer!
Messala: I am a soldier!
Judah Ben-Hur: Yes! Who kills! For Rome! Rome is evil!
Messala: I warn you...
Judah Ben-Hur: No! I warn you! Rome is an affront to God! Rome is strangling my people and my country, the whole Earth! But not forever. I tell you the day Rome falls there will be a shout of freedom such as the world has never heard before!
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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 NileCity 105.6 (1995) See more »


Composed and Conducted by Miklós Rózsa
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Stunning Film That Was Worthy of 11 Oscars
15 March 2001 | by See all my reviews

"Ben-Hur" is a dominant Best Picture Oscar winner that is perhaps more impressive now than it was when it was first released in 1959. Charlton Heston (Oscar-winning) stars as a rich Jewish nobleman during the time of Jesus Christ who is turned into a slave by the Romans after a freak accident. Now he is manning an oar in a ship's galley and his family is imprisoned. Years pass and now Heston is after the former childhood friend (Stephen Boyd), a Roman, that turned against him. The 17 minutes of footage for the chariot race is some of the best during the history of the cinema. Hugh Griffith won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and William Wyler won his third and final Best Director Oscar. A monumental film that is great in every cinematic category known to man. 5 stars out of 5.

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