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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
1,894 ( 223)
Top Rated Movies #198 | 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:

It's an insane world, but still there's one sanity that remains; the LOYALTY of old friends!! 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:

William Wyler's Ben-Hur 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

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

The chariot race required 15,000 extras on a set constructed on 18 acres of backlot at Cinecitta Studios outside Rome. Tour buses visited the set every hour. Eighteen chariots were built, with half being used for practice. The race took five weeks to film. See more »

Goofs

In the overhead view of the second turn as the chariots are taking their parade lap around the race course heading toward the starting line, there should have been hoof and wheel tracks from when the chariots made their entry onto the race course. All we see are the tracks of the horses leading the parade. See more »

Quotes

[Christ passes, bearing the cross]
Esther: How can this be?
Judah Ben-Hur: [shocked] I *know* this man!
[Jesus stumbles and is whipped by the centurions]
Miriam: [pleading] Won't someone help him?
[Jesus is whipped again]
Tirzah: Pity on him!
Miriam: [wonderingly] In his pain... there's a look of peace.
Judah Ben-Hur: Watch over them, Esther.
[he goes after Jesus]
[...]
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 »

Alternate Versions

One older VHS release has a fade to black in between the opening credits and the scene after that. The original version has a dissolve transition. See more »

Connections

Referenced in An Opera of Violence (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Fanfare To Prelude / Prelude / Marcia Romana
Composed and Conducted by Miklós Rózsa
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

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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