Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt's throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict.
A Jewish nobleman, Judah Ben-Hur, and his adopted Roman brother Messala are best friends despite their different origins. Messala enlists in the Roman army and fights in the Roman Empire's wars in Germany. Ben-Hur also develops feelings for the family slave Esther although their different station in life compels him not to pursue her. But when her father Simonides seeks to marry her off to a Roman, Ben-Hur declares his love for her and takes her as his wife. Three years later, Messala returns as a decorated Roman officer. His return coincides with a rising insurrection by the Zealots, Jews who are opposed to the oppressive nature of Roman rule..
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 »
As the Romans march into Jerusalem, establishing shots show the Roman soldiers lining up across the entire visible length of the city's main street, and Pontius Pilate rides in the very center. As soon as the column reaches the house of Judah Ben-Hur though, we suddenly see the very end of the column as if Pilate had inexplicably fallen back in line or the column had shrunk. See more »
Huston conveyed emotion, remorse, rage, resignation and relief with depth and the effortlessness of truth: each won by long years of pain or the grace of an instant. A sort of well, dare I say 'goodness' seems to emanate from the man. He is blithely naive, callow, filled with talent and care for his fellow man and beasts. A mantle of grace rests upon him....you can feel it.
I would give his performance 10 stars. In fact, I do.
The film, however...
I do not like the inclusion of contemporary music in historical settings. It grates at the suspension of disbelief required to be lost in the time and place being brought to life. It holds the entire narrative up against a shadow puppet screen and says 'remember, this isn't real.' That's not what I want. Contemporary music plays at the close of the film, I recall.
Also, the costuming.... they didn't get away with the use of polyester fabrics ~ particularly with metallic elements. They could be seen and were glaring anachronisms, particularly in the women's clothing and in the beginning scenes. Again, jarring to one wishing to believe he is indeed looking upon the time roughly corresponding with the beginning of our calendar system.
The costuming recovers, however. Huston's tunics and attire are flawless. But what about Freeman's Tuareg clothing? Was he a Moor? A Tuareg? An Amazight? They might have made it more clear which sort of African he represented.
The film is worth seeing. It is stirring. It touches the depths of suffering and sorrow and leaves an impression if not a few tears.
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