Ben-Hur

As the prince accused of treason by the orphan sibling who is now an officer in the Roman guard, Judah Ben-Hur is sent to five years in a ship’s galley before returning to Jerusalem to get his revenge. There has only been one other film in cinema history that ALL three versions have pleased me, that being The Thing from Another World, remade as The Thing by John Carpenter and the Mary Elizabeth Winstead version from a few years back – all unique perspectives on the same story. I’m one of those who prefers the 1925 Ramon Navarro silent version of Ben-Hur to the 1959 Academy Award winning film with Charlton Heston, which was wonderful also; the difference between the two was in how they presented the story with its Christian message intact. This third version (ignoring the 2010 TV miniseries completely) is more aligned with its silent roots, in that Christ plays an important role for both Romans and Jews. Upon his release from bondage, Judah comes into contact with an African sheik who scours the Holy Land for gambling possibilities thanks to the roman circus. Another difference in this interpretation is that animals (specifically the horse) are treated with compassion, unifying spirits of man and beasts. Naturally, if you have seen either of the previous films, everything is heading for the chariot race pitting brother against brother – both of whom have a deep distrust of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judaea who sees “zealots” as a thorn in his career plans. Jack Huston is Judah and Toby Kebbell is his brother Messala, perfectly matched in a more fast-paced retelling of the time of the Christ!

[PG-13]