Wednesday, April 21, 2010

#91 Ben-Hur - there's a whole lot of sexual tension going on...

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

Seen it before? No.

Sam wanted to count this as his yearly "church" service in honor of Easter but we ended up watching it a bit after Easter due to my niece and nephew staying longer to play video games. After watching the movie I have decided that it does not contain enough of Jesus' story despite "Jesus" appearing in the movie...

Judah Ben-Hur is a prince who happens to be Jewish. His long time friend Messala is a Roman who, in order to move up the ranks and show his ability to command, arrests Ben-Hur to make an example of him when a higher ranking Roman gets pegged by a tile which fell from the Hur compound. Somehow Ben-Hur ends up a slave and saves yet another higher ranking Roman who adopts him as his heir. A chariot sponsor admires how Ben-Hur handles his horses and hires him to compete in a chariot of his competitors? That's right, Messala...

Where does Jesus fit into all of this? At the beginning there is a census that requires everyone to go back to their place of origin...completely improbable today...I'd have to go back to Quezon City, Sam would have to go to Ravenna, OH and so someone would have to take Daniel to Arlington Heights...I digress, anyhow, Mary and Joseph are heading to Nazareth to partake in the census and she is pregnant. Then we see Jesus (the back of his head anyway), as Ben-Hur is dying of thirst and is the only one of the slaves who is forbidden water, putting a ladle to Ben-Hur's mouth. When BH finally rises he looks in what I can only imagine is supposed to be awe (though it's Charlton Heston so you can probably figure out what his face looks like acting awe)...Jesus is referred to in later parts of the movie as a healer and preacher then gets crucified at the end (come on that is absolutely NOT a spoiler since most people know that's what happens to him according to the Bible).

There are a bunch of sub plots...A strange sexual vibe between BH and Messala. BH hits on his slave girl (inherited from his father) who he gives permission to marry another. BH's mother and sister get imprisoned and end up lepers who miraculously become healed after meeting Jesus while he is carrying his cross to his death.

It's a good story despite how long it goes on for. The first 6 minutes or so were excruciating...not because the score was bad, on the contrary it was actually quite good, but due to the fact that there was nothing going on but music...sounds dumb coming from me, a fan of classical and orchestral pieces in general but I knew the movie was over three hours long and I was impatient to be done with it so no action in the first 6 minutes or so of the movie playing without actors on screen got me antsy. The chariot scene was not what I thought it would be seeing as my only memories of Ben-Hur from when I was a kid involved ONLY the chariot race and I was disappointed (kind of) that the chariot race was not the main crux of the movie...ce'st la vie.

See it again? Sure, I'm sure someday I'll sit through it when Daniel watches it in a few years.
Own it? I'll buy it when the movie industry decides that they are making the last copies of the movie available for sale.

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