Sunday, April 11, 2010

#91 Ben-Hur: A strange inconsistency in this man

1959. dir. William Wyler, starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd.

Seen it before? No.

A huge movie in every respect; scope, cast, budget, running time (at 3 hours and 42 minutes, it's the longest movie we've seen so far, and maybe the longest on the whole list; I'm not sure). This film won 11 Academy Awards, which is tied with Titanic and Lord Of the Rings: Return Of The King for the most ever. A lot of the attention this movie received is due to the chariot race scene, which was awesome.

It's a fairly simple story. Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) is a Jewish nobleman. His childhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd) becomes the Roman tribune in charge of Judea. The Jews are resisting the rule of the Romans, so Messala makes an example of Judah by selling him into slavery. Judah then saves the life of a consul, who brings him to Rome and employs him as a chariot driver. This puts him in a position to obtain his revenge on Messala. So if you're thinking, "Hey, isn't that basically the same plot as Gladiator?", give yourself a gold star.

Of course the plot takes sort of a strange turn at the end, where this robed guy whose face we never see gets crucified, and this somehow magically solves everyone's problems. What's up with that? Totally gimmicky, deus ex machina ending. Disappointing.

Position on the list: 140
Homoeroticism, yay!: Gore Vidal was an uncredited screenwriter on this movie, and deliberately added some sexual tension between Judah and Messala.

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