Timur Bekmambetov explained the film's adaptation in a interview with "Collider": "When we say 'original "Ben-Hur",' we have to be very concrete about which original version we are talking about. There were two big-screen versions made, in 1925 [Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)] and 1959 [Ben-Hur (1959)]. These are the two most famous ones. There was also a Broadway stage version at the beginning of the 20th century. There have been a lot of television versions. The Ben-Hur story reminds me of 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Hamlet' and any story written by [Anton Chekhov]. It is timeless, so every new generation wants to go back to it in order to adapt it for the new world. The screen version made in 1959 runs for four hours, and there [are] only a small number of people who can actually stay through the whole movie. It is about people different from us. And it's normal, because people used to be different. The audience was different, too, as well as the cinema language the film was made in. The 1959 movie was about revenge, not about forgiveness. For me that was the main problem, as I think that the novel is mainly about forgiveness, about the fact that a human being learned how to forgive. I got so excited about the project when I read John Ridley's script. I understood that John's vision of the story has so much light to it, and that he shares the same thoughts about certain morals as I do. We talked with him about our modern world, which actually reminds me very much of a huge Roman Empire. In the Roman Empire the most important values were pride, rivalry, power, strength, the dictatorship of power and self-love. This kind of world does not have any prospects today. Humanity has to learn how to love and forgive. This would be our only solution." See more »
According with Holy Gospels, Christ was arrested by Temple soldiers, not by Romans. At this time Judea was a reign under roman control but with his own laws and "police". Only Romans can execute to death, so Jesus was bring to Pontius Pilate after a Jewish trial. See more »
How many Romans do you even know? Have you ever had a conversation with a single one in your life? Don't spit your hate for all when you don't even know one.
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The end credits for the director, producer and department heads are animated to look like they fly across the race track, kicking up dust as if they were horse-drawn chariots. See more »
Hollywood remakes. For every Ocean's 11, there's 10 Willy Wonkas. So here we are saddled with another previously untouchable classic getting a slickly made, soulless studio remake. But is it fair to judge it just because it's a remake? Or does it succeed on its own merits?
I love the William Wyler '59 original classic, and watch it often. The quoteable lines are brilliant. "Your eyes are full of hate, 41. That's good. Hate keeps a man alive". Charlton Heston is great as Ben Hur. And that chariot race is one of the greatest action spectacles ever put on the silver screen.
I just can't envisage myself re- watching this. The effects are impressive, but any tosspot on a computer can conjure up digitally creative wowzers, so that is no selling point. And the action is predictably impressive, but it's so stagnant, slick and with no standout unforgettable moment. Jack Huston brings nothing new to the role of Ben- Hur, and Morgan Freeman clearly has a new flat screen TV to pay for, so he shows up to phone it in.
For the past 16 years we've seen sword & sandal epics go from fun genre revival (Gladiator) to moribund cliché (Hercules, 300 Rise of the Empire). In fact Rodrigo Santoro (Xerxes from 300) shows up as Jesus Christ this time. From Persian tyrant to Jewish prophet, now that's an improvement.
I left the cinema knowing that I'll forget about this in 3 weeks. Remakes can improve on the original (The Fly, The Thing, the '59 Ben-Hur is itself a remake of an early silent B&W version). But you risk falling into trap of being so slavishly loyal to the original that to redo the film becomes pointless (Pyscho).
I can't recommend paying full cinema price. Stay at home and watch the '59 original. On the small screen, Chuck Heston commands a stronger presence than anyone in this large screen bore.
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