Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy
If any film defined ‘Epic’ this would be it! It is epic long at 3 1/2 hours, it features the ultimate hero, Jesus and it spans time and space… oh and it has a really exciting chariot race! Tick, tick, tick!
You must watch this film in two halves, nicely divided by an intermission, as the second half may pass you by. It is long and a little slow but filled with incredible, though sometimes stiff, performances, amazing sets, action, adventure and heart-felt dialogue.
For those of you who cannot remember what it is all about (as I did), Ben Hur is about the life of Jesus, a wealthy Jew, Judah Ben-Hur and the Roman occupation. The sub-title reads, “A Tale of the Christ by General Lew Wallace”, the author of the novel on which the film was based. It begins with the birth of Christ, then onto Nazareth where Mr Ben-Hur resides. A new Tribune, Messala (Stephen Boyd) arrives in town. He is Judah’s old boyhood pal! Then a new Governor arrives and is nearly killed accidentally by Ben-Hur’s sister.
They all get arrested, Messala refuses to help because of a former agro conversation he had. On his way to the galleys, Judah meets Jesus who gives him a drink of water. On the high seas all hell breaks loose but he saves Consul Quintus Arrius (Jack Hawkins) who then adopts J-Hur as his son. Things are looking up! Then Judah goes home
He meets his former slave’s daughter Esther (Haya Harareet) and falls deeply in love with the rustic beauty. He meets Messala as a son of a Consul and demands to see his mum and sis. They have since contracted Leprosy and have been shipped off to the local leper colony. Esther tells Judah that they have died.
Ben-Hur travels around and meets Sheik Ilderim (Hugh Griffith) who has a set of beautiful and fast horses. The badly made up Griffith looks like he is covered in Vegemite… just looks so wrong. However, he’s a great character, a wheeler and dealer. And then there was the chariot race! Naughty Messala has spikes put on his chariot to give him the upper hand! I won’t spoil it for you but it’s action packed, incredible cinematography!
Things happen, people get hurt and then it’s off to save the family. Jesus pops his head back in for a quick sermon on the mount then Judah grabs the girls and watches Christ’s final walk through the streets of Jerusalem. The death of Jesus brings renewal of all things good and there you have it!
This is an incredible film. It is so engrossing. Though it is long, every part of it is so well crafted it just takes you along for the ride. The chariot race is so exciting, there was no need for a soundtrack, just a few oooo’s and aaaah’s from the crowd. Though it is rated G (in Australia) I wouldn’t recommend it for kids. There are a few gory scenes (sinking of the ship, the chariot race finale and, of course, the crucifiction).
Heston is a standout, believable in every way. Those spectacular blue eyes and broad shoulders, well, you just wanna give him a big old hug! The scenery is spectacular, mostly filmed in Libya or Israel (when they were kicked out by the Muslim Libyans). I loved the Valley of the Lepers, the landscape and the reproduction of Rome.
This is a soulful film. It is filled with truths about relationships, injustice, hope, faith and the power of love. A few fav quotes are: Balthazar says to Judah as he’s on his way back to Rome, “don’t insist on death”; and after encountering Jesus, Judah says, “…and i felt his voice take the sword out of my hand”.
This film is well worth the time. It highly deserves the 11 Oscars it won. It is brilliant. Check it out and let us know what you think!
Ben Hur Trivia: