After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
According to Gore Vidal's interview in The Celluloid Closet (1995), Ben-Hur and Messala were former lovers and Messala betrayed Ben-Hur because their relationship ended. According to Vidal, he discussed this with Stephen Boyd (Messala) ahead of shooting, but this information was hidden from Charlton Heston because it was felt that he could not handle it. After Vidal's interview, Heston vehemently denied that Ben-Hur had any homosexual subtext or that Vidal had any real involvement with writing the script. Vidal responded by quoting extracts from Heston's 1978 autobiography "An Actor's Life", in which Heston admitted that Vidal had written much of the finished screenplay. Wherein Vidal added a gay subtext between Ben-Hur and Messala, all of the other "Ben-Hur" screenwriters - Karl Tunberg, Maxwell Anderson, S.N. Behrman, and Christopher Fry - added two conflicts between the two characters, which revolved around (1) one's devotion to his country and one's devotion to God; and (2) how one person can be redeemed after replacing his/her humanity with hatred and vengeance. Upon receiving the Academy Award for Best Actor of 1959, Heston had only one "Ben-Hur" screenwriter to thank in his acceptance speech: Christopher Fry. See more »
As Pontius Pilate comes out to watch the chariot race and takes his seat, a Roman officer behind him calls out orders to to his men, but no sound is heard from the officer. See more »
[about his wives]
I've got six... no, seven.
I have counted eight, and that is because he is traveling. At home, he has more.
See more »
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion is shown in a still-frame to appear looking peaceful at the beginning rather than roaring. See more »
One of the best epics, this is a story of the friendship between two young boys. Eventually they grow up to be enemies and end up hating each other, one being Jewish and the other one Roman.
One could easily assume "Ben-Hur" is a story from The Holy Bible, and although this is not the case it was the intention when writing it. It certainly is one of the greatest stories ever told. This is the third adaptation of the classic tale, and it's the only one really remembered today. Many elements were inspired and copied from the first two, filmed in 1907 and 1925, but with a vast improvement: special-effects. The set wasn't as dangerous in 1959 because of the technical revolution that had taken place since the last time around.
"Ben-Hur" is full of drama, action and romance. There's also a tension between the two leads that could be interpreted as a love-affair gone horribly wrong, but this was toned down by the studio as homosexuality was a big taboo at the time.
Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd are great, with a wonderful supporting cast to back them up, making this a classic.
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