Sunday, March 7, 2010
Ben-Hur(1959) is an epic film directed by William Wyler starring Charlton Heston, and it's 3 hours thirty two minutes long. It's incredibly long, but somehow it's not quite the bore that I thought it might turn out to be. The thing that really stands out in this film is not the performances, and certainly not the dialogue, but there are some great action scenes and incredible set designs.
Charlton Heston plays a well off merchant Jew, Judah Ben-Hur. His childhood friend Messala(Stephen Boyd), originally a jew, has returned as a Roman Tribune(one of the higher ups in the army). They're all buddy buddy happy to see eachother once again, but things soon turn sour when Messala asks Judah to basically become an informant, and turn in some of the Jews who are rebeling against the Roman occupation of thier land. Judah refuses and Messala is very angry about this, boo hoo, and they both go thier separate ways. When a Roman Governer visits the town, Judah's sister accidently knocks over a loose tile from the roof, and it falls hitting the Governer and killing him. Messala arrests Judah, even though he knows it was an accident, and sends him to the galleys. Judah's mother and sister are also arrested for no reason and are sent down into the dungeons. Judah vows to return and take revenge on Messala and reunite with his family. Revenge! Hell Yeah!
The chariot race is obviously the best part about this film. It's simply fantastico. I don't need to go on about this. Most people know that there is an awesome chariot race that everyone needs to see once before they die. But it really is that good. The one thing that annoyed me about this film is the religion aspect of it. Spoiler! Judah basically gets kicked in the nuts at every turn he makes, and it's cool to see him rise up and take revenge against Messala. But just when he's about take on Rome(now that would have been cool to see), since Rome the empire is basically THE enemy throughout(it turned his old Jewish pal into an almighty prick), religion creeps into the movie and saves the day! Basically magic happens. Hocus pocus. Judah's family, who bacame lepers in the dungeons, are totally cured because they see Jesus being crucified! What the hell is that about?? So the message is that no matter what happens, believe in Jesus or something, and one day if you're a leper some sort of wizardry might happen and totally cure you???? I could go on about it but you really have to see it for yourself to make your own mind up about it. That part made no sense to me.
Anyway, overall this was not such a chore to watch, given the length of time and all. Charlton sucks as a hero(I think that he'd have suited the villain role much better, he's just that sort of asshole), but the action scenes and some of the revenge themes makes this somewhat enjoyable to watch.