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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
2,345 ( 192)
Top Rated Movies #197 | 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

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The Entertainment Experience of a Lifetime! 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

Of the three Academy Awards that Miklós Rózsa won, he cherished the one he won for this film the most, because of the score's size, complexity, intricacy, emotional content and its being a distillation of his more than 20 years' experience scoring films. See more »

Goofs

In the confrontation scene between Judah and Messala when Judah demands that Messala release his mother and sister, Heston walks out of the room and the camera clearly sees that he is wearing brown hush puppies or ankle boots, definitely not period-accurate footwear. See more »

Quotes

Sheik Ilderim: One God, that I can understand; but one wife? That is not civilized.
[nudges Judah]
Sheik Ilderim: It is not generous!
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

Featured in Desmontando el HD (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Overture
Composed and Conducted by Miklós Rózsa
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Sometimes Overdone, But Entertaining & Worthwhile
23 September 2004 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

It's hard to deny that William Wyler's lavish version of "Ben-Hur" is sometimes a bit overdone, but it nevertheless remains an entertaining and worthwhile classic. The material does justify the big-budget approach, since the story contains several interesting themes as well as plenty of action sequences. While some parts could have been stream-lined with little loss, in order to make the movie as a whole flow more smoothly, in general the film as it is keeps a good balance between action and substance. There are some very good dramatic moments in addition to the action highlights.

Charlton Heston is well-cast as Ben-Hur, a role that plays right to his strengths. The strained relations between Ben-Hur and Messala provide one set of themes for the story, as well as driving much of the action. Heston handles his end of it pretty well, although Stephen Boyd could have been a little less static in his portrayal of Messala. Jack Hawkins works very well as Quintus Arrius, and his scenes with Heston are used well in establishing some of the inner workings of Heston's character. Hugh Griffith also has a couple of good scenes as Sheik Ilderim.

The chariot race and other action sequences usually get most of the attention, but there are also some worthwhile ideas in the story (which are really the focus of the original novel) that are developed well enough. There is also a very good silent movie version of "Ben-Hur" from 1925, which at times takes a different approach from this version, and which is well worth seeing in itself for those who like the story.


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