Just a few weeks ago, Turner Classic Movies celebrated the 60th anniversary of the classic epic Ben-Hur by reviving it in select theaters, which I was fortunate enough to see.
Ben-Hur is directed by film legend William Wyler and is set in biblical-era Rome during the invasion of Judea, where a Jewish prince named Judah Ben-Hur meets with a childhood friend turned Roman tribune, Messala, who Judah feels has been corrupted by Rome. Following an unfortunate accident that leads to the death of a Roman governor, Judah is condemned to the galleys as a slave by Messala. In a shipwreck, he saves a wealthy commander, who turns him into a successful charioteer, though he still longs for his home and family in Judea. Along Judah’s journey, multiple encounters with Jesus of Nazareth inspire him and a great number of people in Rome.
Ben-Hur is an epic in every sense of the word. Seeing it in theaters is definitely ideal, considering the sweeping beauty and scale of this film. Knowing the film’s backstory is also important because seeing the many incredible scenes, such as the iconic chariot race and naval battle, and knowing that it was created over 60 years ago just adds to the magic of Ben-Hur. Of course, the movie isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Some people don’t want to stomach a nearly 4-hour biblical epic, but if you enjoy that time period as well as the experience of watching an epic film, I recommend putting Ben-Hur on your list, as it is one of the best. The acting, especially from leading man Charlton Heston, is phenomenal, the set design is magnificent, the cinematography is beautiful, and the screenplay is both colossal in its scope and scale as well as intimate and personal. Definitely keep an eye out for Ben-Hur’s next revival if you didn’t have a chance to catch it this year.