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Ben Hur - 50th Anniversary Edition [DVD] 
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William Wyler directs this historical epic starring Charlton Heston in the title role. Judah Ben-Hur (Heston) is a Jewish prince who falls out with his close Roman friend Messala (Stephen Boyd) when he refuses to promote Roman rule over his people - his mother and sister are imprisoned and he is enslaved. Hur plans and achieves revenge after three years as a slave and later becoming a charioteer, but finds true peace when he returns to Jerusalem and joins the new following of Jesus Christ. The film won eleven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Heston) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Hugh Griffith).
The biggest (and arguably the best) from Hollywood's Golden Age of Epic, Ben-Hur cost a staggering 15 million dollars in 1959 and was one of the largest film productions ever undertaken: the Circus Maximus set alone, constructed for the climactic chariot race, covered 18 acres and was filled with 40,000 tons of Mediterranean sand. Fittingly the movie scooped an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards that year, an achievement only equalled three decades later by Titanic, another bloated, wildly costly epic, albeit one with a distinctly less literate script (Gore Vidal provided uncredited script-doctoring for Ben-Hur). Director William Wyler, who had been an assistant on MGM's original silent version back in 1925, never sacrifices the human focus of the story in favour of spectacle (he had the good sense to leave the great chariot racing scene to second-unit director and experienced stuntman Yakima Canutt). Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur dominates an appropriately vast ensemble cast, while Miklos Rozsa's majestic musical score adds immeasurably to the sense of occasion. The Christian theme, the very crux of Lew Wallace's original novel, is handled sensitively, focusing on the central character's love and compassion for his family (evoked by the discovery of their leprosy), and heavy-handed sermonising is thankfully avoided (the figure of Christ is seen but never heard--his presence signalled by a serene musical motif instead).
On the debit side, at four hours it's a long haul especially given some of the portentous dialogue--"You can break a man's skull. You can arrest him. You can throw him into a dungeon. But how do you fight an idea?"--but worst of all is having to watch it on a tiny TV screen (and any TV screen is too tiny for this movie). The movie's theatrical aspect ratio is 2.76:1, so the widescreen version plays out in a little horizontal band framed by two huge black borders; while the pan & scan version sacrifices great swathes of the original frame, making this vast epic look like a tame TV mini-series. All in all, a great movie but one best seen on the biggest screen possible. --Mark Walker --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.See all Product description
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I would say that anyone who saw this film with love it, iv'e been waiting for this film to be released on bluray......Read more
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