All Day To See The Race!
TITLE: Ben Hur
GENRE: Biblical Epic
CAST: Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Haya Harareet, Jack Hawkins, Hugh Griffith and Sam Jaffe
PLOT: Re-union of boyhood friends does not go well at all. One has become a Roman ruler in Judea and the other is a prosperous Hebrew, our hero, Judah Ben Hur. Their conflict forces the Roman Massala(Boyd) to exile Hur into galley rowing slavery. During a sea battle, Hur saves the life of the Roman Consul and is rewarded by eventually becoming the adopted son of the Consul. Returning to Judea for revenge, we pass through the sport of the era, Chariot racing. Hur had become one of Rome city's most celebrated drivers; while in Judea, Massala is the eastern Empire's best, The duel in the Chariot race is acknowledged as a few of the most suspenseful moments in Hollywood history. Hur renounces Rome, seeks his family out, gets to see Jesus perform miracles and die. The Christ story part of this is central yet is played down only to be resurrected when the other story stumbles.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT: 7 of 10; at almost 4 hours (and it'll be longer than that if you do the DVD extras), you need to sit through poor character development which is the big drawback. The rest of the film is to be as expected from such a huge budget blockbuster. The movie's music score, the costume, the sets and stunts are all top notch.
DVD BONUSES: Heston comments on the making in a parallel track. The filmography of several actors is given
ADDED NOTES: This movie is all about the chariot race. Heston (and Boyd) had to join the ranks of less than a dozen skilled drivers of four horse chariots in the world. He even, he says, had to work as an extra at times when the chariots were shown at range and drivers were needed. (I think I saw him once or twice as the driver during some horse practice run scenes. Yes, this battle with horses is worth watching the movie for (But if that's all you want to see, It's just after the intermission on side 2)