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Ben-Hur (1959)

G  |   |  Adventure, Drama, History  |  26 December 1959 (UK)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 147,246 users  
Reviews: 365 user | 111 critic

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), 4 more credits »
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Top Rated Movies #188 | 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


The World's Most Honored Motion Picture See more »


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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
See  »

Did You Know?


The 65mm cameras were extremely heavy. It took four men with steel bars to move them, so William Wyler ended up using a crane most of the time. See more »


On the way to the galleys, a prisoner on the march dies and is cut loose from the rest. When he is pushed down the sand dune, you can see his arms pulling himself down. See more »


Sheik Ilderim: Was the food not to your liking?
Judah Ben-Hur: Oh, indeed!
[Balthasar gestures for Judah to burp in gratitude, and Judah burps]
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 Alternate Title Design: Nick Livesey (2005) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The best of the "Intimate Epics"
31 March 2000 | by (Tucson, Arizona) – See all my reviews

The same quality that made epics like "Gone with the Wind," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Doctor Zhivago," and, ultimately, "Titanic" the memorable stories they were is present in spades in "Ben-Hur." These are stories, though told on canvases far vaster than the CinemaScope- or Panavision-sized movie screens they were meant for, succeed because, in their best moments, they focus on the interaction between and history of as few as two characters.

What begins as a childhood friendship between a Roman boy and a Jewish boy in Roman-occupied Palestine, becomes, briefly, a politically-charged rivalry, and ultimately, a search for revenge by one upon the other.

Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd deliver the performances of their careers, and get to chew up scenery and sets of such grandeur that Hollywood could never afford their like again.

This film, the greatest epic film ever made, deserves every accolade heaped upon it. The modern viewer may have to apply some patience, but at the end of the nearly four hour running time will find themselves to be vastly rewarded for it. You will find your life changed by both the scale of the film and the intimate message of friendship, betrayal, revenge--and the power of forgiveness.

71 of 142 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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