Ben-Hur is the latest adaption of a book written in 1880 by Lew Wallace. Taking place in biblical times, Ben-Hur tells the story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman who is ultimately betrayed by his best friend (Messala, a Roman) and sent into slavery. It culminates into a tale of redemption and revenge. It could be proudly said that Ben-Hur as a story is undoubtedly one of the greatest epic adventure stories ever written. It has been remade several times, the most notable being the 1959 version with Charlton Heston.
There are several differences in the plot. Most notably the omission of certain key characters in the second half of the story. Judah’s romantic intentions with Esther are played down in this movie. Mostly just from the idea that they are already married by the time most of the film’s events take place. There is less screen time for his family, and is more character driven from his point of view than in the original ’59 version. Honestly, it works. Ben-Hur, first and foremost is an adventure story, as such, any remake should be updated from an action movie standpoint, thus helping increase the movie’s introduction to newer audiences. However, the story remains classic.
Undoubtedly one of the key s scenes of any versions ins the chariot race scene. A scene that had undoubtedly burned into the back of one’s eyes and truly cannot forget. The updated version was quite good, although if anything ill had to be said of it, it would have to be the rather obvious placement of 3D elements into the film. Regardless, this movie did that right too. Fast paced, strong emotional states, and clearly shows the dangers of chariot racing more graphically than any of the previous versions ever could.
Anyone familiar with the original, knows that Jesus plays in the story as a minor character, this was done brilliantly in the original as a non speaking role. In this film however, he remains minor, but still unforgettable. Judah’s brief interaction with the carpenter help his motivations. In that, one could assume this remake did much better than the previous ones. The themes presented in this version are more rooted in redemption than revenge, and in doing so further shows the complexities of the charters throughout the film.
In short, this film is not at all compatible with the original. Let’s face facts, nothing, no remake of this already classic tale will ever surpass the original. But the action, the acting, the storyline has been reintroduced to a whole new generation in such a way that the Biblical epics of the 1950’s would be proud.
Final Score: 6/10
Jack Huston………….Judah Ben-Hur
Morgan Freeman……….Sheik Ilderim
Sofia Black D’Elia………..Tirzah