It has been 62 years since Ben-Hur graced the silver screen and went on to win an astonishing 11 Oscars, a new record for the time. This epic masterpiece was joined by West Side Story just two years later in the 11 win circle, and together the pair ruled the cinema universe until 1997 when Titanic joined them with 11 wins off their 14 nominations. The Return of the King (2003) became just the fourth film to ever win 11 Oscars, a record all four maintain to this day.
Ben-Hur used special effects that were way ahead of its time in 1959. Whether it was the epic boat fight sequence or the famous chariot races, Ben-Hur wouldn’t have been so excellent and memorable if it wasn’t for advancements in technology.
It would go without saying that the film wouldn’t be so endearing to the audiences if it wasn’t for the performance of Charlton Heston. He may be fondly remembered as Moses in The Ten Commandments or as Taylor in the Apes saga’s Planet; however, more people probably remember him as Ben-Hur than any other character.
It had been about six years since I last watched Ben-Hur, and in that time, I had totally forgotten a lot of the main story points. I did not remember Ben-Hur being a slave on a boat who saved his Captain’s life. I had totally forgotten that his mom and sister, who he loved dearly, would wind up with leprosy. I vaguely remember that Ben-Hur crossed paths with Jesus Christ on several occasions, including the two times they exchanged water.
I was quite surprised that the final act followed Ben-Hur as he chased down the Messiah on the way to his crucifixion to cure his mom and sister. It has totally slipped my mind how intertwined this film was with religion, but it all made sense considering the backdrop was the Roman Empire.
The character of Ben-Hur is remembered for so many reasons. Whether it was his false arrest and imprisonment to his fearless attitude about getting revenge, this character brings a lot to the table, and there is a lot to dissect. He was a man of the people and a leader of the people. He never sought their affection but earned it the only way he knew how, through hard work and sire determination.
You could ask anyone if they know anything about Ben-Hur the movie, and most people will answer the famous chariot scene. This iconic scene is one of Hollywood’s most remarkable cinematic experiences ever captured on film. Those moments just grew the character’s legend, which showcased his intelligence and burning desire to be successful while overcoming any and all obstacles.
I’d give this classic film a higher score, but there were many slow parts in this 3:44 long movie. The entertaining features make up for any and all slow parts; however, it was hard to stay engaged in the long saga when it’s just talking. All those moments build-up to one of the greatest stories ever told, but there is a reason why I only watch this film once a decade. 7/10