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Feb 06, 2012

MPAA Rating:


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William Wyler


Charlton Heston


2001 Warner Brothers

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Still shot from the movie: Ben-Hur.

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Overall A-
Run Time222

Making the Grades

Over forty years ago, Ben-Hur raced into movie theaters and garnered 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for a young Charlton Heston. With the recent releases on DVD and Blu-ray, Warner Home Video (who now hold the movie's rights) may be hoping this epic saga of betrayal and revenge, will win again.

Heston plays Judah Ben-Hur, a wealthy Jewish prince and merchant living under Roman rule in the city of Jerusalem during the time of Christ. When his childhood friend Messala (Stephan Boyd) returns to the city as Commanding Officer of the Roman Legion, Ben-Hur is pleased to renew their friendship. But an unlikely accident soon pits the two men on opposite sides of the law. Seeing a chance to secure his position with his ruling peers and leaders, Messala withholds important information about the incident and allows Ben-Hur to be sentenced as a galley slave while his family is sent to the dark cells of an underground prison.

Harboring a rage that grows with each stroke of the oars, Ben-Hur vows to avenge their unwarranted betrayal. During a seemingly disastrous sea battle, he escapes the sinking ship and is set adrift in the company of Quintus Arrius (Jack Hawkins), the commanding officer of the Roman warship. Impressed by the captive's will to live, Arrius takes Ben-Hur as his slave, training him to become a renowned charioteer in the Roman Coliseum.

Years later, after finally earning his freedom, Ben-Hur returns to Jerusalem and confronts Messala in one of the best-known chariot races ever recorded in cinematic history. Yet the malice Ben-Hur feels continues to haunt him and sour his personal relationships until he hears of Jesus and his teachings.

Clocking in at 212 minutes, this movie, littered with a heavy dose of Roman violence, is a full evening of entertainment. However the impressive sets, intriguing cinematography and solid storyline of personal struggle make this classic 1950's film worth every minute of watching.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Ben-Hur.

“The stone that fell from this roof so long ago is still falling,” says the servant girl Ester (Haya Harareet) to Ben-Hur. What do you think she means by this statement? How did this one incident change the life of Ben-Hur and his family?

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Canadian Movie Ratings

Not Rated
AB Not Rated
MB Not Rated
ON Not Rated
QC Not Rated
Not Rated

Canadian Home Video Rating: PG

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Details on home video releases of Ben-Hur...

Blu-ray Notes: Ben-Hur: 50th Anniversary Edition

Release Date: 7 February 2012

Ben-Hur releases in a 50th Anniversary Edition in a 4-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack. Bonus extras include:

- Commentary by film historian T. Gene Hatcher and Charlton Heston

- Music-only track showcasing Miklós Rózsa’s score

- Theatrical trailers

Home Video Release: Ben-Hur: 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition

Release Date: 27 September 2011

The classic movie Ben-Hur releases to Blu-ray in a 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition 2, which includes:

- Charlton Heston & Ben-Hur: A Personal Journey (HD Documentary)

- Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic

- Screen Tests

- Vintage Newsreels

- Highlights from the 1960 Academy Awards Ceremony

- Trailers

- Audio Commentary

- Ben-Hur: The 1925 Silent Version

- Ben-Hur: A Journey Through Pictures

- Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema

A Limited and Numbered Edition of Ben-Hur is also available and features a reproduction of Charlton Heston’s Personal Diary.

Release Date: 13 September 2005

If Ben-Hur wasn’t of epic proportions before, it sure is now! This four-disc set answers everything you could ever even think of to ask about this 1959 classic. Bonus materials include: a commentary by film historian T. Gene Hatcher (with scene-specific comments from Charlton Heston), a vintage newsreels gallery, highlights from the 1960 Academy Awards ceremony, a theatrical trailer gallery, screen tests (of Leslie Nielsen and Cesare Danova, Leslie Nielsen and Yale Wexler, as well as George Baker and William Russel) and details about actress Haya Harareet’s hair and make-up.

There is also a wealth of documentaries. Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema provides interviews with current filmmakers, such as Ridley Scott and George Lucas, and their reflections on the importance and influence of this movie. The 1994 Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic, hosted by Christopher Plummer, and the1986 Emmy Award-nominated film directed by William Wyler are part of the package too. Fans of pre-production paraphernalia will appreciate, Ben-Hur: A Journey Through Pictures - an audiovisual recreation of the film via stills, storyboards, sketches, music and dialogue, while film historians will be happy to take a look at the 1925 feature-length silent version of Ben-Hur, presented with a stereophonic orchestral score by composer Carl Davis.

The Ben-Hur: Four Disc Collector’s Edition is available in English and French (both audio tracks are recorded in Dolby Digital 5.1), with subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

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