Directed By: William Wyler Starring: Charlton Heston

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An Epic for the Ages

by Bill McGarry on 11/1/2004

Ben Hur is an example of the best the old Hollywood system could create when it put its mind to it. It is, in the end, a story of revenge, but Ben Hur has a gravitas that the shoot em up revenge movies of today totally lack. Made 45 years ago, it has aged well. The action sequences were all done live, and it is still amazing that they could have been filmed at all. You MUST buy this in the wide screen edition, the pan and scan does not do the movie justice. Ben Hur has all the hallmarks of a well done epic: Grand music that fits the scenes, Dialogue that does not sound trite, A commanding lead actor - Charlton Heston, and a scene (the chariot race) that will never be forgotten once you have seen it. The entire movie, all 3 1/2 hours of it will fly by as you are enveloped in the multi layered story that is thoughtfully presented. I think it stands with the best films ever made.

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Product Overview

A jewish nobleman in palestine is drawn into a heroic odyssey that includes enslavement by the romans, a bold escape from an embattled slave gallery, vengeance against his tormentors during a furious arena chariot and fateful encounters with jesus christ.


Studio Warner
SKU 40147876
UPC 012569550629
UPC 14 00012569550629
Format DVD
Release Date 1/16/2007
Rating Rating
Ancient World
Based On A Novel
Bible Epic
Essential Cinema
Period Piece
Theatrical Release
Editors Note
Note Anno Domini: the seventh year of Augustus Caesar's reign. In the Roman province of Judea, Jews return to the city of their birth for the census. A bright star in the night over Bethlehem marks the birth of Jesus Christ. Years later, Roman commander Messala (Stephen Boyd), who was brought up in Judea, takes command of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. His Jewish boyhood friend Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) greets him. Messala is delighted. But when Judah refuses to name Jewish patriots, Messala sentences him to the slave galleys and imprisons his mother, Miriam (Martha Scott), and sister, Tirzah (Cathy O'Donnell). Judah vows revenge.^In BEN-HUR, William Wyler's much-lauded epic, the story of Judah's search for his mother and sister and his quest for revenge intersects with crucial biblical events such as the Sermon on the Mount and the crucifixion. Wyler gets fine performances from Heston, Boyd, Jack Hawkins (as a Roman admiral who befriends Judah), and Hugh Griffith (as an Arab sheik who dreams of racing his beautiful white horses against Messala). Among BEN-HUR's vivid dramatic sequences are a violent sea battle and the famous chariot race that pits Judah against Messala in one of cinema's great action sequences.
Plot Summary
Summary William Wyler's biblical epic is a production of unheard-of scale, exhibiting the work of literally tens of thousands of people. The film tells the story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Judean prince who as a galley slave saves the life of a Roman nobleman, changing his life forever. The 1880 novel by Lew Wallace had previously been filmed to great acclaim in 1927 with Ramon Navarro.
Variety "...William Wyler's 1959 Roman drama still has a self-confidence and sheer scope that's jaw-dropping..." 03/05/2001 p.42
Premiere "[H]istorically significant and fascinating." 10/01/2005 p.126
William Wyler
Charlton Heston
Cast & Crew
Charlton Heston - Actor
Hugh Griffith - Actor
Jack Hawkins - Actor
Stephen Boyd - Actor
Lew Wallace - Based on Novel By
Robert Surtees - Cinematographer
William Wyler - Director
Miklos Rozsa - Musical Score
Sam Zimbalist - Producer
Karl Turner - Writer
Technical Info
Original Release Date 1959
Catalog ID 65506
UPC 00012569550629
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 222 minutes
Color Color
Original Language English
Available Subtitles English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Available Audio Tracks English, French Dubbed
Aspect Ratio
Oscar (1960) Charlton Heston, Winner, Best Actor,Robert Surtees, Winner, Best Cinematogrphy, Color,Elizabeth Haffenden, Winner, Best Costume Design,William Wyler, Winner, Best Director,Miklos Rozsa, Winner, Best Music, Original Score,Sam Zimbalist, Winner, Best Picture,Hugh Griffith, Winner, Best Supporting Actor
ReviewSource Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide
Review Heston and Boyd are well matched as the proud Jew Ben-Hur and his boyhood friend Messala... the galley-slave sequence, and climactic chariot race (directed by Andrew Marton and staged by the legendary stunt expert Yakima Canutt) are still great...
Reviewer Leonard Maltin
ReviewRating 9
DVD, Widescreen, Commentary, No Longer Produced
Product Attributes
Actor Heston,Charlton
Label Warner Home Video
Music Format DVD
Video Format DVD
Bosley Crowther, The New York Times A rich and glowing drama that tanscends the bounds of spectacle.
Find-A-Video A biblical epic on a scale even the Caesars could appreciate...

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An Epic for the Ages by Bill McGarry on Nov 01, 2004