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Movie Review: Ben-Hur

A Timeless Classic with Eternal Implications

Ben-Hur (2016) is a story of Jewish Prince Judah Ben-Hur who seeks to avoid scrutiny in the first century Jerusalem as he navigates the tricky ground between Jewish zealots and the Roman occupiers, all while doing what is right.

When an act of generosity brings about his ultimate betrayal, Judah ends up a slave. He survives and works his way back to Jerusalem, using his knowledge of horses to do so. He searches for his family and lost love, while seeking reconciliation with his estranged stepbrother.

There is, of course, an epic chariot race at the pinnacle of this action-adventure movie. The story also provides intrigue, interesting personal dynamics, and romantic elements, offering something for everyone.

We see Jesus in a minor recurring role throughout the movie’s overall arc, but his climatic crucifixion toward the end and what happens afterward is the major point of the movie and a most rewarding conclusion.

If you’ve not seen this 2016 version of Ben-Hur, check it out. Or watch it again.

Ben-Hur Background and Other Versions

A big reason why I put off watching the 2016 version, was that I had been underwhelmed by the 1959 version, despite it starring Charlton Heston. Though critically acclaimed and award-winning—amazing eleven Oscars—the long-run time of 3:32 minutes was enough to deter my appreciation or discourage additional contemplation. That was a mistake.

In addition to the well-known 2016 and 1959 versions of the movie, IMDb notes additional productions of Ben-Hur. Major ones include the original 1907 silent short, lasting fifteen minutes; the longer 1925 silent movie, lasting 2:23 and which was later dubbed with music and sound effects for re-release in 1931, and a Ben Hur miniseries in 2010, which interestingly was only three hours long.

The story originates from an 1880 book Ben-Hur: The Tale of Christ written by Louis Wallace. The best-selling book was called the most influential Christian book of nineteenth century.

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