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Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 8 October 1927 (USA)
A Jewish prince seeks to find his family and revenge himself upon his childhood friend who had him wrongly imprisoned.

Directors:

Fred Niblo, Charles Brabin (uncredited) | 3 more credits »

Writers:

Lew Wallace (novel) (as General Lew Wallace), June Mathis (adaptation) | 5 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ramon Novarro ... Ben-Hur
Francis X. Bushman ... Messala
May McAvoy ... Esther
Betty Bronson ... Mary
Claire McDowell ... Princess of Hur
Kathleen Key ... Tirzah
Carmel Myers ... Iras
Nigel De Brulier ... Simonides (as Nigel de Brulier)
Mitchell Lewis ... Sheik Ilderim
Leo White ... Sanballat
Frank Currier ... Arrius
Charles Belcher Charles Belcher ... Balthazar
Dale Fuller ... Amrah
Winter Hall ... Joseph
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Storyline

Erstwhile childhood friends, Judah Ben-Hur and Messala meet again as adults, this time with Roman officer Messala as conqueror and Judah as a wealthy, though conquered, Israelite. A slip of a brick during a Roman parade causes Judah to be sent off as a galley slave, his property confiscated and his mother and sister imprisoned. Years later, as a result of his determination to stay alive and his willingness to aid his Roman master, Judah returns to his homeland an exalted and wealthy Roman athlete. Unable to find his mother and sister, and believing them dead, he can think of nothing else than revenge against Messala. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The inspired love of the Prince of Hur for the gentle lovely Esther! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 October 1927 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ben-Hur See more »

Filming Locations:

Anzio, Rome, Lazio, Italy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,950,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (restored)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Color:

Color (2-strip Technicolor) (nine sequences)| Black and White (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For the sea battle, scores of extras were required to play galley slaves and Roman soldiers. Because of the high unemployment figures in Italy, many extras desperate to get a job, lied that they could swim when they were being hired. An accident on the boat, and the fact that no one was sure how many extras were involved in the scene, caused great unease among the MGM management. Rumour has it that afterwards the production manager and his assistants took a boat out, and brought chains with them, to weigh down any bodies they might find floating on the surface. See more »

Goofs

The saw Christ is using remains in the same spot, despite Him creating enough friction with the blade to cut deeper into the wood. See more »

Quotes

Arrius: A galley slave wanting to live! How long have you been at the oars?
Ben-Hur: In your calendar, three years - - in mine, three centuries!
Arrius: What has kept you alive?
Ben-Hur: I live for revenge!
Arrius: Spoken like a Roman!
Ben-Hur: I am a Jew!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Many prints re-printed the Technicolor scenes in black and white. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Phantom of Hollywood (1974) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Absolute Silent-Movie MASTERPIECE!!!
31 July 2004 | by marcin_kukuczkaSee all my reviews

Anyone who is interested in the history of cinema must have heard of the version of 1959 which got so many Oscars. Yes, indeed, William Wyler's BEN HUR (1959) is a masterpiece. This is the version that I have watched for many years not being aware much of the 1925 version. I had only heard about this movie from my Grandma who watched it in the 1930s and absolutely loved it. I somehow underestimated it considering this movie too old and out-of-date. However, when I watched it for the first time last year, I did realize that this silent movie is an utmost masterpiece for its era. AS IMPRESSIVE AS THE 1959 VERSION! There are a lot of factors that make this movie worth watching at least once.

The cinematography is of very high quality. I dare claim that some scenes are equally well shot as the ones in the 1959 version. The sea battle when Juda Ben Hur is in the galleys, the tile falling on the Roman governor, the meeting of Judah and Messala and their quarrel are still memorably presented. As far as the chariot race is concerned, the scene is gorgeous as for the silent era: these crowds of people, the decorations, everything is filled with splendor!

The cast give very fine performances. Novarro as Juda Ben Hur is, in my opinion, not better than Heston, but indeed not worse. Francis X. Bushman with his facial expressions, his Roman nose really fits to the role of Messala. May Mc Avoy as Esther is not as good as Haya Harareet in 1959 version. There, Haya looks more like a Jew, she is more gentle and beautiful. However, May's portrayal of Esther, though different, is also worth consideration. The figures of Quintus Arrius and Balthazar are not very developed here. Nevertheless, all other characters do appear like in BEN HUR (1959), and they perform really well.

The moments with Jesus Christ from this movie and from the one of 1959 are VERY SIMILAR! SOMETIMES EVEN IDENTICAL! In both movies, we can't see Jesus' face. He is portrayed as a Messiah, powerful and calm. In this 1925 version, you can see Christ's figure full of divine light and most these scenes are shot in early Technicolor. What is more, this film stresses clearly the expectations that Jews had concerning Christ. Juda Ben Hur gathers legions to be led by the divine king. The final scene is a bit different but equally touching as in the 1959 version:

"Weeping may endure for a night, but in the morning cometh JOY" (strikingly similar to SOLOMON AND SHEBA (1959)

All in all, this film is an unforgettable experience. For me, it is something that I could only dream about to realize how perfectly they could make a movie in 1925. ABSOLUTE MASTERPIECE OF SILENT MOVIES which can't be skipped in my film gallery...


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