Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Ben Hur (1959)

In the beginning, there was a five minute overture of music before the film even begins.

Ben Hur is a story of a respected Jewish noble (the titular Ben Hur, played by Charlton Heston) and his clash and "revenge" against his once good friend. If that opening line is any indicator, this film is long - almost four hours. And I think most of the glut comes from shots of people simply moving from point A to point B.

It really is a big movie.

I can see why they did it though - the sets are amazing and the sheer scale of the number of people involved in some scenes is impressive. I quite like the miniatures during the ship combat too. There's really something about old fashioned, tactile movie magic that for me still trumps even the best CGI effects / people duplication techniques.

Of course it does face the problems of old, such as one part where a distant car is clearly heard in the background and having odd cuts when scenes were clearly retaken. Behind the main plot (well, sort of interwoven) are parts of the New Testament which might leave some people scratching their heads. I do quite like how they portray Jesus in the film though: they don't. He's a "foreground extra" whose face you never see and used to decent effect.

Overall I liked the movie. A lot of set backs for Ben Hur lead to a lot of action pieces, though the number of time skips was a bit much. Definitely worth watching, but due to the length I'm not sure I'd be too eager to see it again. I give it three and a half javelins out of five.

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