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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.

Director:

William Wyler

Writers:

Lew Wallace (novel) (as General Lew Wallace), Karl Tunberg (screenplay)
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Popularity
2,253 ( 411)
Top Rated Movies #195 | Won 11 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Charlton Heston ... Judah Ben-Hur
Jack Hawkins ... Quintus Arrius
Haya Harareet ... Esther
Stephen Boyd ... Messala
Hugh Griffith ... Sheik Ilderim
Martha Scott ... Miriam
Cathy O'Donnell ... Tirzah
Sam Jaffe ... Simonides
Finlay Currie ... Balthasar / Narrator
Frank Thring ... Pontius Pilate
Terence Longdon ... Drusus
George Relph George Relph ... Tiberius Caesar
André Morell ... Sextus
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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

Taglines:

A Tale of the Christ See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 January 1960 (Brazil) See more »

Also Known As:

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ See more »

Filming Locations:

Anzio, Italy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,900,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$74,700,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$196,200,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

6-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Burt Lancaster, a self-described atheist, claimed he turned down the role of Judah Ben-Hur because he "didn't like the violent morals in the story" and because he did not want to promote Christianity. In any event, Lancaster, who was 45 when the film eventually went before the cameras, was too old for the part. See more »

Goofs

When the chariots are first being backed into the starting area, each chariot has just 3 horses each. Yet when the race starts, both chariots have 4 horses each. See more »

Quotes

Esther: Oh, Judah, rest. Sleep. For a few hours of the night, let your mind be at peace.
Judah Ben-Hur: [bitterly] Peace! Love and peace. Do you think I don't long for them as you do? Where do you see them?
Esther: If you had heard this man from Nazareth...
Judah Ben-Hur: Balthasar's word.
Esther: He is more than Balthasar's word. His voice traveled with such a still purpose... It was more than a voice... a man more than a man! He said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the...
[...]
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 Hedda Hopper's Hollywood (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

Overture
Composed and Conducted by Miklós Rózsa
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The pinnacle of film making
26 November 2005 | by galahad58See all my reviews

I own over 2,000 movies on DVD or VHS. I have gone to many many more movies that have not been worthy of my collection, thus my exposure to film has been extensive. I mention this because through every film I have seen; I still come back to a film from 1959 as the greatest achievement in cinematic history. I have seen great films like: Return of the King, Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart and many more. While the modern films are wonderful and have a fantastic richness to them, they still are a "small" notch below Ben-Hur. Today's films use a lot of computer effects for their battles scenes, their backgrounds, and even computer images for the stunts of their actors. Yet, Ben-Hur did it all without computers. I am still fascinated by the chariot race. Never, in film history, has anything matched the depth and excitement of the chariot race. Remember folks, this is 1959, nothing is computer generated. Some may say the naval battle scenes look a bit cheesy, but again it was 1959 and the scenes still work today. What can you say about the acting? Every single actor is wonderful. Heston is in top form as Ben-Hur. Steven Boyd is incredible playing the merciless Messala. Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Martha Scott--all fantastic in their roles. Each performing the role of a life time. The actors are fantastic, but William Wyler brings more out of each actor than any director ever could in this day and age. Wyler had no computer animation to rely on, he had no high tech special effects crew, he had no computer program to fill in extras. Wyler had to find thousands of extras for many scenes and maintain control. Did you ever see Steven Boyd better? Probably not. Did you ever see any of the actors (except Heston, who is an acting marvel) better in any other role? Wyler just pulled the greatest performance out of each actor. The story: fantastic from beginning to end. While the film is over 3 hours long, you do not feel that it is that long. Every scene is lovingly crafted: the reunion between Messala and Judah, the trek to the gallows, the rowing scene, the naval battle, the chariot race, the Messala death scene, the reunion with Judah and his family, etc. After seeing thousands and thousands of movies, I always come back to Ben-Hur. This is the mark of fantastic movie making. Today's film makers could learn a lot by watching this film and "learning" about acting, directing, and screen writing.


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