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Ben-Hur (1959)

8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 120,142 users  
Reviews: 346 user | 102 critic

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

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(novel), (screenplay), 4 more credits »
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Title: Ben-Hur (1959)

Ben-Hur (1959) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Top 250 #185 | Won 11 Oscars. Another 21 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Plot Keywords:

friend | roman | jerusalem | revenge | prince | See more »

Taglines:

The World's Most Honored Motion Picture See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 January 1960 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$15,900,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$70,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)| (1993 re-release)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The second of two films shot in the MGM Camera 65 process (eight more would be shot after the process was re-named Ultra Panavision). It was intended to be the first, but production delays led to MGM using it first on Raintree County (1957). Like the Todd-AO format (introduced in 1953), MGM Camera 65, used 65mm negative stock that was then printed to 70mm film for roadshow release prints, or optically printed down to 35mm for general release. Unlike Todd-AO, though, Camera 65 operated at a standard speed of 24 fps from the beginning, and utilized 1.25x anamorphic lenses to optically squeeze an aspect ratio of 2.76:1 into the 2.20:1 Todd-AO frame. These lenses were developed and manufactured by Panavision, a natural evolution on their work to improve the quality of anamorphic camera and projection lenses for the CinemaScope system. The extra 5mm of film between the 65mm negatives and 70mm prints was comprised of 2.5mm outside the perforations on either side of the film, allowing for up to four stripes of magnetic oxide carrying up to six discrete channels of sound - offering greatly superior sound quality in comparison to the mono optical tracks on 35mm prints at the time. When MGM sold its camera department to Panavision in 1961 the Camera 65 process was renamed Ultra Panavision 70 but remained technically identical. The complexity of anamorphic photography and post-production however meant the system was short-lived - especially due to the use of unique 1.25x anamorphic lenses rather than the 2x power used for CinemaScope - and the process was last used for Khartoum (1966) in 1966. Most of the cameras were used on Super Panavision 70 productions - Panavision's exact copy of the non-anamorphic 24 fps Todd-AO process - before being replaced by the Panaflex 65 cameras used in Panavision System 65. Notably, due to the complexity and cost of projecting anamorphic 70mm prints, recent re-issue 70mm prints of Ben-Hur have been printed from optically un-squeezed negatives to allow their projection on normal 70mm equipment with only slight cropping of the sides of the picture. See more »

Goofs

One of the chariot heralds has been claimed to be wearing a wristwatch, but other viewers report that this is an oddly positioned shadow. See more »

Quotes

Miriam: [hesitating as they leave the Valley of the Lepers] I'm afraid.
Esther: [embracing her] No cause. The world is more than we know.
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 »

Connections

Referenced in Over 18... and Ready! (1969) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Deserved All The Honors
8 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Wow, what can you say about a film that won 11 Academy Awards back in the days where the best films actually were honored, not the garbage they salute today.

In other words, this film lives up to its reputation and has to be ranked as one of the most memorable movies of all time. Nobody who ever saw this film ever forgot the chariot race, for instance, perhaps the greatest action scene filmed without special effects.

This can be a very sad film as well. I doubt if I've ever watched this without a few tears in my eyes at certain points. The scenes with hero's mother and sister suffering with leprosy are still some of the most heart-wrenching scenes I've ever witnessed on film. They can just tear you apart.

The combination of drama, action and romance, along with very involving storyline is aided by an incredible soundtrack, once again one of the best ever put on film. The more one hears this music, the more was is moved by it.

To fully appreciate the cinematography in this film I recommend you purchase the recently-released 4-disc DVD special edition which also includes the first rendition of this story, the silent movie "Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ." That was name of the book, by the way, the second part of the title being left off the 1959 movie as Hollywood slowly began deemphasizing Christianity in films. However, there is a reverence for Jesus Christ in this film, which should be there since it's a key element of the storyline, even though most folks forget that.

In summary, this is about as good an example as ever found of what is labeled an "epic" movie. It's an incredible story transferred memorably on screen.


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