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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
2,517 ( 607)
Top Rated Movies #215 | 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:

A Tale of the Christ 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:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$241,792, 14 April 2019

Gross USA:

$74,422,622

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$74,427,638
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 arena was built by more than 1,000 workers beginning in January 1958, according to some reports. It was 2,000 feet long by 65 feet wide and covered 18 acres, the largest single set in motion picture history to that time. Reputedly, 40,000 tons of white sand were imported from Mexico for the track. See more »

Goofs

The shadow of the camera can be seen on Christ's back as Ben Hur is leaving Nazareth to go to the galleys (widescreen version). See more »

Quotes

Messala: Just as I remember it. The courtyard where we used to play at changing the guard; the roof where we used to throw pebbles at the people in the street and then hide!
[to Miriam]
Messala: Ah, we were rascals, weren't we?
Miriam: No, you were good boys! I would have that time again.
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 Tiny Toon Adventures: Toons Take Over (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Overture
Composed and Conducted by Miklós Rózsa
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Human Drama, Grand Spectacle, Moving Divinity
4 November 2018 | by CubsandCultureSee all my reviews

This film is so much more than the chariot race. Undoubtedly, that is the most famous sequence and for good reason. It is stunning, electric, tense and the so very exciting. There is nothing like simply seeing a chariot race unfold by actually filming a group a chariots. But the sequence is filled with meaning because the film spends so much time building up the personal relationship between Judah and Messala; their hatred for each other displayed in the chariot race is alive and bitter. Because we have seen them expressing deep kinship and spiritual love.

There is a famous dispute between Wyler and Vidal about how much of the Judah-Messala relationship was intended to have a subtext of a gay jilted lovers. I think to dwell on that is to sort of miss the point. While it it is really easy to read an erotic love (especially on Messala's part) between the two it is clear that spiritual love is present in anycase. The erotic element is present if one cares to look but it is not needed. There is clearly an emotional intimacy between the two. This intimacy gets soured by politics. The story is richer, deeper and more personal as a result.

Richer is a good word for this movie. It is nearly 4 hours long but it is a fully fleshed out epic that engages the entire time. I rather enjoyed how the Christian themes are restrained-You never see Christ's face, you only hear what he says second hand etc.-it makes the film feel about Jesus of Nazareth and not necessarily Jesus Christ. I feel like it makes the film more accessible to nonChristians while Christians can infer what the wish. Biblical epics can often be very stuffy and overwrought. Wyler's use of deep focus really gives the film a feel of intimate epicness. The scope is grand; the focus personal,

Wyler was a very good filmmaker; this is something of a departure for him. Nonetheless this film is still the work of a master.


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