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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
2,448 ( 137)
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

Taglines:

The World's Most Honored Motion Picture 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

"Hortator" is not a name but a title. It is a Latin noun meaning "inciter" or "one who arouses" and is the root of our English word "exhort" and all of its forms (like "exhortation" for a speech that arouses people to action). Thus the man beating the drum is addressed not by name but by title, as one might say "ensign." See more »

Goofs

As stated, the MGM lion is a frozen frame as the film opens - Leo doesn't roar. This was not done as suggested to convey calm or out of respect for the religious theme, but because Wyler wanted to open the very first frame of the film with Rózsa very dramatic score. For this to be fully effective, the roar had to go. This very similar to what Fox did with 'The Robe', another religious themed epic opening immediately with the Newman score on the very first frame and skipping the standard Fox logo and fanfare track. See more »

Quotes

Messala: Judah, tell me, did you-did you think about what I said yesterday?
Judah Ben-Hur: Yes. I talked to a number of people already. Spoken against violence, against incidents. Most of the men I talked to agree with me.
Messala: Most? Not all?
Judah Ben-Hur: No, not all.
Messala: Who does not agree?
Judah Ben-Hur: Well, the resentful, the impatient.
Messala: Who are they?
[pause]
Messala: Yes Judah. Who are they?
Judah Ben-Hur: [pause] Would I retain your friendship if I became an informer?
[...]
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

According to Leonard Maltin's 1987 "TV Movies Guide," the film was re-cut for later re-issues; this version runs 165 minutes. The complete, 212-minute film, however, is the version commonly seen in circulation today, and is available on DVD and airs on Turner Classic Movies. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Fanfare To Prelude / Prelude / Marcia Romana
Composed and Conducted by Miklós Rózsa
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The best of the "Intimate Epics"
31 March 2000 | by TroydawgSee all my reviews

The same quality that made epics like "Gone with the Wind," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Doctor Zhivago," and, ultimately, "Titanic" the memorable stories they were is present in spades in "Ben-Hur." These are stories, though told on canvases far vaster than the CinemaScope- or Panavision-sized movie screens they were meant for, succeed because, in their best moments, they focus on the interaction between and history of as few as two characters.

What begins as a childhood friendship between a Roman boy and a Jewish boy in Roman-occupied Palestine, becomes, briefly, a politically-charged rivalry, and ultimately, a search for revenge by one upon the other.

Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd deliver the performances of their careers, and get to chew up scenery and sets of such grandeur that Hollywood could never afford their like again.

This film, the greatest epic film ever made, deserves every accolade heaped upon it. The modern viewer may have to apply some patience, but at the end of the nearly four hour running time will find themselves to be vastly rewarded for it. You will find your life changed by both the scale of the film and the intimate message of friendship, betrayal, revenge--and the power of forgiveness.


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