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Darrel Manson

Ben-Hur

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I'm boning up on this for the press day on Monday re: the Bluray release. I've never seen the film - clips, sure, but not the whole thing, or even most of it. 222 minutes is a lot of movie. I'm working my way through the vanilla DVD. I'll need to find a friend with a bluray that will let me spend some time with it to have something to say re: commentary and bonus disc. The DVD set I'm watching is 4 disc - not sure what's beyond 1 and 2.

Some early notes: Starts off with a 6 minute Overture with nothing on screen except the hands from the Sistine Chapel Creation of Adam and the word "Overture". Then the MGM lion (no roar). Then a 5 minute version of the nativity - co-mingling the Mt and Lk stories. Then the title and credits. Then the story starts. First words of the film after the overture are (printed on screen) Anno Domini, then spoken "The Year of Our Lord"

It is important to keep in mind that the subtitle of the book was "A Tale of the Christ".

I'll probably post some other observations as I work my way through. Also thinking about why it was this film fits it time so well.

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I'll probably post some other observations as I work my way through. Also thinking about why it was this film fits it time so well.

Looking forward to more, as there is so much worthy of discussion here. I was unaware of this new release.

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Ryan H. wrote:

: Did we not have a thread on this film before now? 8O

Google turns up a thread on the live musical version, but that's it. The site's built-in search engine is useless, alas, since it doesn't search for words of three characters or less, and this movie's title has two of 'em.

FWIW, links to a few (amply illustrated) blog posts of mine on this film:

'The ox and the ass at Christ's manger.' (Dec 2008)

'Romans drinking and driving, again.' (Jul 2008)

'Depictions of Mary in the Ben-Hur movies' (Sep 2006)

Might as well post the remaining footage from the 1907 version of this story, too:

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The new set will include the 1925 version in the bonus material.

(for the search engine: benhur wyler heston)

Edited by Darrel Manson

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Today was a press day for the DVD release. They showed us some scenes up on the large screen, including the whole chariot race. Wow! This is one that does really well on the big screen. They said it will be having a screening at a festival in NYC early next month. I hope they'd come up with a way to have a re-release of the remastered film.

Watching the chariots today, my impression was that this was equine NASCAR.

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Screenwriter Gore Vidal has died. I made a thread for him here.

Vidal famously claimed to have altered the screenplay of Ben Hur to add gay subtext:

Of course, as Wikipedia points out, Vidal's claims aren't exactly universally accepted as true.

Edited by NBooth

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Some observations about how Wyler's film (not entirely successfully) reshapes the book.

 

The end of the novel, I would argue, is a bit more emphatic about contrasting the healing power of Jesus and his message with the futility of Judah’s quest to establish a kingdom of God’s chosen people through political or military ends. Judah is a Jew, but remember, he is a Jew written about by a Christian. While Wallace sees his theistic devotion as greater than the Romans’ paganism–one Roman in Wyler’s film openly admits that the gods to whom he prays are fiction–there is still a need to have Judah’s embrace of Jesus entail an admission of the insufficiency of his Jewish identify. In the novel this means that even though Judah is right about the identity of the Messiah, he must come to realize he is wrong about the Messiah’s purpose in coming and the nature of his kingdom.

 

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