After 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 (A Tale of Christ) (as General Lew Wallace), Karl Tunberg (screen play by)
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Popularity
1,892 ( 492)
Top Rated Movies #208 | Won 11 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 16 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The desert sequences were all set to be filmed in Libya until authorities in the country--a Muslim nation--realized that the film was promoting Christianity. The government ordered MGM out of the country, forcing the studio to shift filming to Spain, which has the only desert in Europe. 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's very dramatic score. For this to be fully effective, the roar had to go. This is 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

Judah Ben-Hur: He gave me water, and the heart to live. What has he done to merit this?
Balthasar: He has taken the world of our sins onto Himself. To this end He said He was born, in that stable, where I first saw Him. For this cause, He came into the world.
Judah Ben-Hur: For this death?
Balthasar: For this beginning.
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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 Red Dwarf: The Tank - Series VIII (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Overture
Composed and Conducted by Miklós Rózsa
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User Reviews

Stunning Film That Was Worthy of 11 Oscars
15 March 2001 | by tfrizzellSee all my reviews

"Ben-Hur" is a dominant Best Picture Oscar winner that is perhaps more impressive now than it was when it was first released in 1959. Charlton Heston (Oscar-winning) stars as a rich Jewish nobleman during the time of Jesus Christ who is turned into a slave by the Romans after a freak accident. Now he is manning an oar in a ship's galley and his family is imprisoned. Years pass and now Heston is after the former childhood friend (Stephen Boyd), a Roman, that turned against him. The 17 minutes of footage for the chariot race is some of the best during the history of the cinema. Hugh Griffith won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and William Wyler won his third and final Best Director Oscar. A monumental film that is great in every cinematic category known to man. 5 stars out of 5.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 November 1959 (Canada) 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:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$241,792, 14 April 2019

Gross USA:

$74,422,622

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$74,427,638
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

6-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.66 : 1
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