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on 7 May 2017
It was delivered The day before Good Friday where it was shown on tv!! Doesn't matter as I still think of it as one of my favourite films. Yes it's dated, but Christian or not it's still go such a powerful storyline it's worth every penny. It is a long film as I think it has two discs. It was shown in cinemas when they had intervals!! i won't tell you the story but if you've never seen it, give it a chance and buy it, it was under five pounds!! Get the tissues ready as there are parts that will make you shed a tear or more.
Never been a great Charlton Heston fan but in this he is just gorgeous!!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 April 2016
VIDEO:

MGM originally filmed the movie in Camera 65. Video resolution now is 1080p with 2.76:1 aspect ratio. The film has been spread across the set's first two discs (BD-50) with the break coming at the film's intermission. The work on this release began several years ago and has involved a $1 million restoration frame by frame from an 8k scan of the original 65mm camera negative. It had been hoped to have the work completed in time for a 2009 release (hence the 50th anniversary designation that still appears in the release title), but the meticulous process took longer than expected and to Warners' credit, they did not rush it to meet an artificial marketing deadline.

The extreme width (2.76:1) is requisite to convey the breadth and grandeur of the settings, and when you see the Roman legions marching from one end of the screen to the other, you know it's wide. And all those spectators in the stand are not digital artifacts, but real people.

To complement the screen's vast dimensions, the colour and definition are superb. Indeed, the high-definition image is spectacular, beautifully restored and remastered from 65 mm elements, remarkably detailed, always sharp, always brilliantly in focus, and more clearly delineated than ever before. Grain is handled extraordinarily well. Colours look vividly deep, particularly reds and blacks, accompanied by pinpoint definition, and have been treated with utmost care: even the skin tones (typically a trouble spot for films from the 50s and 60s) come off cleanly and accurately. Black levels are also rock-solid. The halos and edge enhancement that marred the earlier 4-disc DVD editions have been erased completely. The picture quality is so rich, and the dimension so vast, the resultant picture on my 12 foot wide screen using anamorphic lens is simply breathtaking. (5/5)

AUDIO:

The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is a force of nature - it's a perfect way to enjoy Ben-Hur's original sound design. This mix is decidedly front-heavy - as it was originally intended - but opens up in action sequences in order to augment an already exciting stereo mix. Dialogue sounds spit-shined perfect. Miklos Rozsa's score is placed into the soup with clarity and robust, dynamic punch, and the action scenes literally sizzle with exemplary exploitation of atmospherics and sound effects. (4/5)

I always enjoy the music of Miklos Rozsa. He is always regarded today as one of the greatest film score composers of all time. In a career that spanned over fifty years, he composed music for nearly 100 films, including Spellbound (1945), Quo Vadis (1951), Ivanhoe (1952), El Cid (1961), and King of Kings (1961). In Ben Hur, he won an Oscar for Best Music Score. His original long-case 2 CD box set of the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Ben Hur, released in 1996 by Rhino, is a nice complement to this movie.

Ben Hur is considered as an epic movie. At the time, it was the most-expensive movie ever made, and its rewards were not only to become a box-office smash but to earn a record-breaking eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture (Sam Zimbalist died during filming due to stress, and his wife accepted the award on his behalf), Best Director (Wyler), Best Actor (Charlton Heston), Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffin) and Best Cinematography (Robert Surtee, who had also won in King Solomon's Mines, and The Bad And The Beautiful). This record was not equalled until the arrival of Titanic!

The film's major drawback, its extreme length, may also be for many viewers among its chief strengths. I found much of the middle portion of the film flagging, but the length enables a good deal of character growth, and it gives extended time for the chariot race. Legendary stunt man Yakima Canutt was second-unit director on "Ben-Hur," and he was responsible for staging the action and training Heston to do much of his own chariot driving.

In addition to William Wyler's 1959 remake of "Ben-Hur," the Blu-ray set includes the original 1925 silent version as well, directed by Fred Niblo and starring Ramon Novarro as Judah Ben-Hur and Francis X. Bushman as Messala. The movie is 143 minutes long, mostly in black-and-white. This "Ultimate Collector's Edition" also contains a 128-page replica of Charlton Heston's journal and sketches (he avidly kept notes on each of his movies), and a 64-page hardbound book of text and rare photos. They are housed in a handsome box, all of which I will treasure.

This Ultimate Collector's Edition's package is similar in size to that of The Sound Of Music, Wizard Of Oz, Gone With The Wind and The Ten Commandments. Putting them next to each other in one place forms a nice way to display all these beautiful box sets.

As noted before, this monstrous epic took home eleven Academy Awards and almost single-handedly made Charlton Heston a superstar. It's required viewing for anyone who even slightly cares about what big-budget epics from the olden days of Hollywood looked like. If you don't care about the extra goodies (thus higher price), I am sure that movie-only blu ray disc will be eventually released next year (just like movie-only discs for Wizard Of Oz and Gone With The Wind, being released now). With the state-of-the-art video and Miklos Rozsa's music, this is definitely The Ultimate version of Ben Hur. This box set is also a Limited Edition of 125,000, with each set numbered (mine 64,402), Lastly, thank you to Warner for spending time and money to restore this epic film to its original glory and splendor. This "52th" Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition is definitely worth the wait and is very highly recommended.
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on 17 February 2006
Warner Bros.have gone and done it again.You know the story by now so let's just focus on this gorgeous 4 disc presentation.
The print has got to be seen to be believed,crisp sharp,colourful everything this classic deserves.
And what of the extras? WOW!!! First of all you get two documentaries-one from 1994 which was on the 2001 edition but the one made in 2005 is so impressive.
The best extra ever in this reviewers opinion has go to be disc 3 which features the entire 1925 silent version with a new score by Sir Carl Davis.
What more could you ask for? Superb,worth every penny.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 March 2014
I saw this superlative film around 1960, just after it was first released, and was completely blown away. I was about thirteen. Later, I tried to read the book on which it is based, written by Lew Wallace in 1880.I was amazed at how such a badly written book could make such a brilliant film.
Judah Ben Hur is a wealthy Jewish prince in Jerusalem when he meets up with his childhood friend, Messala. Ben Hur will not give his allegiance to Rome as Messala wishes and is unjustly condemned to be a galley slave. He undergoes a series of dramatic adventures before the great chariot race in which he finally defeats Messala.
The sub-plot is concerned with the life of Jesus, who ministered and died during the time Ben Hur is being pushed to the limits of his endurance by Messala. As a young teenager, I was deeply impressed by the sensitive way this sub-plot was treated. Jesus and Ben Hur meet briefly and their lives intertwine dramatically, yet Jesus is never named and his face is never shown. You just know, from the profound response he is given. (To me, this was forever the model for the way this religious theme should be treated. Generally - and this is a very personal response - I am sometimes repelled by films about the life of Jesus, because of the ponderous, humourless, unnatural way he is portrayed. I make an exception for The Passion of the Christ, a wonderful film.)
Charlton Heston was an ideal choice for Ben Hur, though he was far from the first choice. He had the physical stature and dignity for the role, and had already played Moses in another religious blockbuster. He won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ben Hur. The Israeli actress Haya Harareet played Esther, the slave girl and Ben Hur's love interest. She was stunningly beautiful. There are number of memorable actors in the film - Sam Jaffe was terrific as Simonides and so was Hugh Griffith as Sheik Ilderim.
This was a very expensive film to make, and it shows in the magnificence of the production. Apparently, it was the second highest grossing film ever (the first was Gone With the Wind) and saved the studio. It won eleven Oscars, as well as other awards.
In this edition, sound and picture quality are really good. The film has dated a bit, but it is still a marvellous movie, to be savoured and watched time and again.
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on 28 June 2013
BEN-HUR [1959] [3-Disc Ultimate 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray] The Entertainment Experience of a Lifetime!

Meticulously restored frame by frame and digitally remastered. This High-definition Blu-ray 3-disc masterpiece, hits greater heights with the arrival of this stunning visual splendour, thundering action and towering drama of this record-setting winner of 11 Academy Awards® including Best Picture. Charlton Heston brings physical and moral presence to his Best Actor Oscar® winning his role of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman in Palestine, whose heroic odyssey includes enslavement by the Romans, vengeance against his tormentors during a furious arena spectacular chariot race and the fateful encounters with Jesus Christ, Best Director Oscar ® winner William Wyler masterfully grips the reign of an enduring and spellbinding spectacular. Narrated by Finlay Currie.

FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 32nd Academy Awards® for Best Picture for Sam Zimbalist (posthumous award). Academy Awards® for Best Director for William Wyler. Academy Awards® for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Charlton Heston. Academy Awards® for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Hugh Griffith. Academy Awards® for Best Art Direction for Set Decoration, Color, Edward C. Carfagno and William A. Horning (posthumous award) (art direction); Hugh Hunt (set decoration). Academy Awards® for Best Cinematography, Color, Robert L. Surtees. Academy Awards® for Best Costume Design, Color, Elizabeth Haffenden. Academy Awards® for Best Special Effects for A. Arnold Gillespie, Robert MacDonald and Milo Lory. Academy Awards® for Best Film Editing for John D. Dunning and Ralph E. Winters. Academy Awards® for Best Music for Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Miklós Rózsa. Academy Awards® for Best Sound Recording for Franklin Milton for M-G-M Studio Sound Department. Andrew Marton received a Special Achievement Award for directing the chariot race sequence. Charlton Heston was nominated for a Golden Globe® Awards in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture and Drama category. The picture also won the BAFTA Award for Best Film, the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film, and the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Motion Picture for William Wyler's masterful direction.

Cast: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Cathy O'Donnell, Sam Jaffe, Finlay Currie, Frank Thring, Terence Longdon, George Relph, André Morell, Claude Heater, Les Ballets Africains (uncredited), Ady Berber (uncredited), Marina Berti (uncredited), Hugh Billingsley (uncredited), Jerry Brown (uncredited), Robert Brown (uncredited), Joe Canutt (uncredited), Otello Capanna (uncredited), Richard Coleman (uncredited), Antonio Corevi (uncredited), Michael Cosmo (uncredited), Alfredo Danesi (uncredited), David Davies (uncredited), Princess Carmen de Hohenlohe (uncredited), Victor De La Fosse (uncredited), Liana Del Balzo (uncredited), Mino Doro (uncredited), Franco Fantasia (uncredited), Dino Fazio (uncredited), José Greci Richard Hale (uncredited), Claude Heater (Jesus uncredited), John Horsley (uncredited), Eddie Juaregui (uncredited), Duncan Lamont Howard Lang (uncredited), Lord Layton (uncredited), John Le Mesurier (uncredited), Cliff Lyons (uncredited), Luigi Marra (uncredited), Ferdy Mayne (uncredited), Aldo Mozele (uncredited), Remington Olmsted (uncredited), Laurence Payne (uncredited), Stella Rho (uncredited), Count Mario Rivoltella (uncredited), Noel Sheldon (uncredited), Ralph Truman (uncredited), Raimondo Van Riel (uncredited), Irina Wassilchikoff (uncredited), Joe Yrigoyen (uncredited) and Nazzareno Zamperla (uncredited)

Director: William Wyler

Producers: Sam Zimbalist, Joseph Vogel (uncredited), Sol C. Siegel (uncredited) and William Wyler (uncredited)

Screenplay: Christopher Fry, Gore Vidal, Karl Tunberg, Maxwell Anderson and S. N. Behrman

Composer: Miklós Rózsa

Cinematography: Robert L. Surtees

Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]

Aspect Ratio: 2.76:1 [Ultra Panavision 70 and MGM Camera 65]

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 5.1 Dolby Digital, 5.1 Castilian Spanish, 5.1 Czech, 5.1 French, 5.1 German, 5.1 Italian, 5.1 Brazilian, 1.0 Portuguese and 1.0 Hungarian

Subtitles: English, Brazilian Portuguese, Castilian, Spanish, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Latin Spanish, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Swedish and Thai

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 3

Running Time: 212 minutes

Studio: Warner Home Video

Andrew's Blu-ray Review: ‘BEN-HUR’ is A Tale of the Christ is one of the most beloved literary classics of all time, and although it's seen numerous film iterations before, especially in 1907 and 1925, both of which were silent films, and it was William Wyler's retelling in 1959 that really made 'BEN-HUR' a household name, and there's a host of reasons for that. The first of which being a story that's epic in both concept and scope for Judah Ben-Hur, a wealthy prince in Jerusalem, seemingly has it all. His people are kind to him, and in turn, he's kind to his people. Not in a 'worship me or it's a thousand lashes' kind of way, but he genuinely treats the people who serve him as equals, friends even. However, things change when Judah Ben-Hur is visited by Messala, an old friend that now serves the Roman Empire as a military tribune. The two get along swimmingly just as if old times were upon them, but it isn't long before Messala lays out a terrifying ultimatum: Judah Ben-Hur must tell his people to roll over and be conquered, and if he doesn't, then Rome will take it by force. Judah insists he will do no such thing, and the two part ways. As promised, Rome's military marches into Judea with the understanding that their presence isn't welcome. Watching from a roof top is the Judah Ben-Hur family, where suddenly a roof tile slips and strikes the governor appointed by Rome. Although Messala knows Judah Ben-Hur is against violence and would never stoop low enough for such a stunt, he sees the situation as an opportunity. By turning on an old friend and his family, he could make the people of Judea fear him, so he promptly condemns Judah to the galleys and imprisons his mother and sister. Judah Ben-Hur vows to one day return and have his vengeance.

Personally, I went a really long time in my life without paying any attention to the likes of ‘The Ten Commandments’ or ‘BEN-HUR,’ as I thought them to be religious films and honestly, I'm not exactly the religious type. That being said, when I did decide to put my bias aside and give them a try, I fell in love. There's so much to appreciate in ‘BEN-HUR.’ Because of the massive set designs, insane amount of extras and wardrobe, and the finest details paid to the practical effects in the film, ‘BEN-HUR’ is impressively immersive for a film that's 50 years old. Despite a running time that one would expect to make a film feel like it's dragging on forever, ‘BEN-HUR’ is engaging from beginning to end for all of the reasons I've praised above. Even when the film isn't being 'busy' with a confrontation or action or anything else 'exciting', the character development is done well enough to ensure things move along at a very nice pace. More importantly, ‘BEN-HUR’ also seems to have quite a bit of replay value to it. I've seen it before, and now I've seen it again, for what seems like the first time thanks to the restoration on this stunning Blu-ray disc, but we'll get to that in a minute... yet I already feel like I want to schedule a little time to give it yet another screening. I don't care if you're 20 and have some kind of disposition that makes you think a film from the 1950's can't be good, or if you're 60 and have seen this film 15 times, then ‘BEN-HUR’ is a timeless classic and one that I personally believe can be enjoyed by most everyone. If you've been hesitant because of its age, don't be. When people praise films as being timeless, this is the kind of film they're talking about. If you've been hesitant because of a possible religious element at play, don't worry. The religious aspects aren't so in your face they're preachy. Trust me, put these typical and yet understandable, concerns aside and see what you've been missing.

Blu-ray Video Quality – For many of you, I'm sure this is the part of the review you're most curious about. Although the previous inferior NTSC DVD release looked okay, but has this 6K restoration and sourced from an 8K restoration. really served this film's justice, being superior in high-definition in every perceivable way. Oh boy it is totally awesome. The ‘BEN-HUR' 1080p encoded transfer and the awesome 2.76:1 aspect ratio is the most astonishing catalogue title I've ever seen. As I have said at the beginning of the review. Anybody out there that still clings such ignorant claims as 'old things can't look any better in HD and should watch this Blu-ray and educate themselves in what film looks like, no matter the era it came from. Yes, make no mistake about it folks; ‘BEN-HUR’ is the best looking release of 2011. Film enthusiasts everywhere have needed to rejoice. There are so many titles, and Warner Bros. is typically an offender here, that are a given a swift kick in the pants just so they can be pushed onto retail shelves, but ‘BEN-HUR’ is exactly what film enthusiasts crave. The image has been faithfully preserved to retain natural grain structure, while also faithfully reproducing every last detail and colour to perfection. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this film looks better than it did during its theatrical debut. Not only does everything look immaculate up close and personal, but details in the distance look just as good as if you were looking out a window. I don't think I've ever written so much for a video portion of a review, but ‘BEN-HUR’ deserves every word. Simply put it, this release is a no brainer in terms of upgrading from your old horrible inferior NTSC DVD, as ‘BEN-HUR’ debut in high-definition is reference quality that every catalogue title should strive to achieve.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Unsurprisingly, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track also achieves perfection. The previous inferior DVD's, although sounding quite good, didn't exactly sound natural. Sound effects were a little loud for the track, probably just for the sake of being so. The same can be said for the score, which to my ears sounded like it was a little harsh at its peak moments. This has been rectified for this Blu-ray release, as the sound effects sound natural and 'fit' better in the overall sound design, and the score now sounds majestic instead of just noisy. Dialogue is always clean and crisp, and never sounds tinny. A good chunk of the track overall comes through the front speakers, and the most sound envelopment you get for the most part is hearing dialogue fade from left to right. There are some sound effects that come from the rears for ambience though, which completely took me by surprise for a film that's 50+ years, and they actually don't sound 'tacked on'. They too, sound natural. The entire sound stage actually gets rather rowdy during the sea battle and chariot scenes though, and you'll be impressed just by how immersive those scenes can be. Honestly, any and all of the faults that can be found in the sound design is just that, a fault of the sound design, most likely of the time. However, this is the most faithful representation of ‘BEN-HUR’ I've ever experienced, and is likely to be the best we'll ever hear. More top notch marks for a stunning release!

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Disc One and Two:

Newly re-mastered and restored from original 65mm film elements.

Audio Commentary: Commentary by Film Historian T. Gene Hatcher with scene specific comments from Charlton Heston: Commentary by T. Gene Hatcher with Charlton Heston is a little different than most commentary tracks we've accustomed to listening to, as T. Gene Hatcher and Charlton Heston were recorded separately. Charlton Heston provides commentary for nearly a third of the film in bits and pieces, whereas film historian T. Gene Hatcher fills in the rest of the time frame. Although you'd expect the commentary to be dry since the two people involved weren't in the same room to bounce off of one another, this couldn't be further from the truth. Heston remembers many details about his time filming ‘Ben-Hur’ and is able to provide discussion that has a wealth of information and just as much as heart. Hatcher is very knowledgeable about the film and provides a very factual, yet thoughtful account in regards to the history of ‘BEN-HUR’ and its production. It's a long movie, and a lengthy track, as is continued on Disc 2, but if you've seen this film numerous times, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not listening to what these guys have to say, especially Charlton Heston. This really feels more like history than a commentary!

Special Feature: Music-only track showcasing Miklós Rózsa's score: The music-only track shines a beacon on Miklós Rózsa's glorious score, which could easily stand alone as a major symphonic work. The gifted composer brilliantly evokes the Biblical period with a majestic main theme, but his subtle underscoring of incidental moments lends the movie great warmth and fervour. Rarely does film music merit an isolated track, but Miklós Rózsa's exceptional, OSCAR® winning score deserves to be not only heard, but honoured, and thankfully Warner has done just that with this track.

Theatrical Trailers: 1959 Loew's Theater Teaser; 1959 Theatrical Trailer; 1961 General Release Trailer; 1961 General Release Trailer and the 1969 70mm Re-issue Trailer.

Disc Three:

NEW! Special Feature: Charlton Heston & BEN-HUR: A Personal Journey [2012] [1080p] [78:00] This is an all new, feature length documentary in 1080p, that chronicles Charlton Heston's life while filming the cinema changing ‘BEN-HUR.’ In 1958, Charlton Heston travelled with his family to Rome by steamship on a risky gamble in– the making of an epic film which would become known as one of the most successful and critically acclaimed films of all time, ‘BEN-HUR.’ It would eventually go on to win eleven Academy Awards® and including Best Actor for Charlton Heston, but no one knew that at the time. ‘BEN-HUR,’ directed by William Wyler, would either make or break not only the studio, M-G-M but also determine the fame, fortune and career of actor Charlton Heston. Charlton Heston and ‘BEN HUR’ incorporates never-before-seen 16mm footage and photographs taken on the set of ‘BEN-HUR’ by Charlton’s wife, photographer Lydia C. Heston, as well as interviews with Heston’s contemporaries, including Tom Selleck, director Mike Newell, producer Peter Snell and filmmaker (and son) Fraser C. Heston, his daughter Holly Rochell and his wife, Lydia Clarke Heston. The film shows the inside story of the making of ‘BEN-HUR’ from Heston’s perspective and how it formed him as an artist and actor in the years to follow. Directed by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Laurent Bouzereau and executive produced by Fraser C. Heston for the 50th Anniversary release and restoration of ‘BEN-HUR.’ It is a Warner Brothers Home Entertainment production, in association with Agamemnon Films and Blue Collar Productions.

Special Feature: BEN-HUR 1925 silent version, from the Thames Television restoration with stereophonic orchestral score by composer Carl Davis [143:00] Finally, out of the 'behind the scenes' sub-menu, we come to the silent film that preceded William Wyler's epic by 34 years. At nearly two and a half hours in length, the silent picture is interesting to see, although I admit it's not a style that I can really sit through entirely. What I did see was fairly impressive though - There were many more extras than I would have anticipated for a film this age, making the amount of costumes to be seen rather astonishing, and the picture quality is quite good considering. But, the rest is fairly typical for silent films of the era. Most of the physical acting and emoting are absolutely dreadful. Over-acted and almost comical to see, this really does destroy the epic-ness that this story deserved. I guess in 1925 though, you didn't have much choice! Still though, again, this is a great piece for such a historical collection contained within a box.

Special Feature Documentary: BEN-HUR: The Epic That Changed Cinema [2005] [58:00] Current filmmakers such as Ridley Scott reflect on the importance and influence of the film on modern epics. This documentary appeared on the 2005 DVD release, and no expense seemed to be spared in order to deliver the goods. Contained within are interviews with William Wyler (archive footage) and Charlton Heston (2001 Interview archive footage), as well as some modern day filmmakers Ridley Scott and George Lucas and fans of the film alike. Whereas the previous documentary really goes as 'behind the scenes' as you can get, this one reflects mostly on the impact ‘BEN-HUR’ had on cinema as a whole. Other contributors to the special documentary are Bruce Crawford, Ben Burtt, Arnon Milchan, Fraser Clarke Heston, Robert Dalva, Ernest R. Dickerson, Arthur Max, Don Davis, Irvin Kershner, Anthony Pratt, Janusz Kaminski, Sharen Davis, Elia Cmiral, Joel Cox, Caleb Deschanel and Michael Douglas.

Special Feature Documentary: BEN-HUR: The Making of an Epic, hosted and narrated by Christopher Plummer [1994] [58:00] Pretty much anything that wasn't mentioned in the detailed commentary or documentaries listed above is included here. This supplement details the path the story took from novelisation in 1880, to stage productions, to silent films in 1907 and 1925, to the 1959 epic featuring Charlton Heston. Interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with members of the cast and crew that were on the scene are all included here. Consider this an 'overall' look at ‘Ben-Hur' and its history through expressions and art. Appearing in the special documentary are Rudy Behlmer, Gore Vidal, J.J. Cohn, William Wyler (archive footage), Catherine Wyler, Ralph E. Winters, Edward Carfagno Jr., Richard Edlund (Special Effects Director), David Raksin (Composer), Joe Canutt (Stunt Man), Yakima Canutt (2nd Unit Director archive footage), Cesare Danova (archive footage uncredited), Haya Harareet (archive footage uncredited), Marc Klaw (archive footage uncredited), Benito Mussolini (archive footage uncredited), Irving Thalberg (archive footage uncredited) and Edward D. White (archive footage uncredited).

Special Feature BEN-HUR: A Journey Through Pictures [1959] Audio-visual recreation of the film via stills, storyboards, sketches, music and dialogue: This is pretty much just a still gallery in motion, but it's worth taking a look at all the promo material that's here. This Blu-ray boxed set is seemingly very much geared towards those with an interest in cinematic history, so this shouldn't disappoint.

Special Feature: Screen Tests [1959] [30:00] Leslie Nielsen and Cesare Danova / Leslie Nielsen and Yale Wexter (without sound) / George Baker and William Russell, Haya Harareet Hair and Makeup Test (without sound).

Special Feature: Vintage Newsreels Gallery: Costliest Film Makes Screen History / The Night BEN-HUR Comes to Broadway / West Coast Welcomes Ben-Hur / VIP Opening: Capital Welcome for Ben-Hur / Japan's Emperor Goes to the Movies / Oscar Likes Ben-Hur.

Special Feature: Highlights from the 4/4/1960 Academy Awards® Ceremony [10:00] This is a lengthier look at the 1960 Academy Awards® includes acceptance speeches from most of the 'BEN-HUR' winners. We see Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis, Haya Harareet, Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, and Eddie Fisher arriving at the gala, and such notable presenters as Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, Olivia de Havilland, Gene Kelly, and John Wayne. Wyler accepts both his own Best Director award and Hugh Griffith's supporting Oscar, and Sam Zimbalist's widow takes home the Best Picture honour for her recently deceased husband.

Theatrical Trailer Gallery [14:00] A trailer gallery showcases a teaser and four theatrical previews, all of which trumpet the movie's drama, spectacle, and inspirational nature.

Finally, 'BEN-HUR' is the quintessential epic, and this spectacular 50th Anniversary Edition from Warner Home Video may just be the quintessential Blu-ray collector's set. Boasting arguably the finest 1080p transfer of any classic film, exceptional audio, supplements galore and classy packaging, this is without question one of the top Blu-ray releases of the year and a must-own for every film aficionado. So clear some shelf space and give this thrilling Academy Award® winning film a prominent spot in your library, and enjoy the passion, spectacle, and, above all, the eye-popping, fully restored image of one of Hollywood's grandest and greatest achievements. So all in all I am so proud to have this in my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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on 7 April 2012
i have the 4 disc dvd set and there is a differance in the last 10 minutes that is of concern to me ans ineed anyone who saw the orginal release or knows more about this to answer this question

in the dvd which is just ch 60 and blu ray 60/61 the scenes are much lighter in colour perhaps too lighter to a degree but this clearly shows the poigniancy of the blood of christ in the river which is vital to show its in thwe water for a reason i christs blood and the miracle of the lepers being cleansed is what i take on board from that scene

then in the hurs fallen estate scenes too are lighter but the biggest issue is the last schot of the crosses on the hill whicxhg is ligth in the dvd and you clearly see white sheep and shepherd

on the blu ray all the above are darker perhaps too dark in the river you can only just make out a brownish color ie blood whixh is more red in dvd so has more of an impact

the estate scenes while darker i have no issues with being dark or light they are not such pivotal scenes but on the cross on hill last scene its so dark we can only just make those sheep out

so what version at the last few scenes is more correct blu ray or dvd ?

personally the scenes showing christs blood are more stunning on dvd

but does anyone recall who saw this at cinema on ealry releases how light the last 10 mins was ?

regards paul
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on 12 April 2012
For larger-than-life films, Ben-Hur is probably my all time favourite. It is probably the single greatest performance ever given by Charlton Heston and arguably the greatest epic ever filmed. The ambitious cinematography and music scoring certainly added to the final, stunning end result and were responsible, cumulatively, for my viewing of this masterpiece many, many times during my youth and early adulthood.
When I ordered this Blu-Ray set from Amazon.co.uk I was prepared to be disappointed as previous re-processed, re-mastered and re-anything else films I've ordered have fallen short of the mark to me. Not this one, I am happy to report!

This 3-disc set is packaged in a nice slipcover box containing the three BD discs (no booklets or other extras in this set). We get the 1959 film Ben-Hur spread over discs 1 & 2 for maximum quality (with minimum compression) and presented...finally....in it's original aspect ratio of 2.76:1. Filmed on 70mm stock utilizing 65mm for picture information and the remaining 5mm for its 6-channel stereo soundtrack, MGM called this amazing widescreen technology Camera 65. In general parlance this was Ultra-Panavision, the widest of the wide screen formats (it was used subsequently in the single-camera Cinerama releases which followed the triple-screen presentation How the West Was Won). Ergo: Ben-Hur was filmed in the widest format ever used! Note the attention to composition, scene-balance and lighting that the cinematographer (Surtees) and Director (Wyler) exhibited here. Great stuff!

Ben-Hur has been painstakingly restored. So painstakingly in fact, that the actual 50th Anniversary of this epic (2009) was missed by two full years in order for the restoration team not to have to compromise their objective of providing film buffs with the very best picture and sound possible with today's technology.
The colour quality and picture detail have to be seen to be believed. I spotted no artifacts, scratches or colour shifting at all. It was as if I was transported back to 1959 and was watching the original road-show release on brand new film in a state-of-the-art cinema (right down to the Overture at the beginning and filmed-in Intermission just before the famous Chariot Race).
I must state emphatically that I have never seen any Blu-Ray restoration come close to this presentation of Ben-Hur in quality and consistency. They have outdone themselves here (another viewer who sat through the close-to-four-hour presentation with me opined that the movie was so grain-free it almost looked like it had been filmed on hi-quality video tape rather than on film stock). The colour, contrast and absolute `snap' in the sharpness blew me away.

A quick word about the sound quality. There are no multiple choices for playback modes, just DTS-HD 5.1 Surround. A not-too-shabby sound format which gives more of a frontal soundstage effect as it probably sounded in the cinema (no head-spinning pseudo rear-channel fluff here). I actually didn't hear much rear speaker info save in the thunderstorm after the crucifixion. This particular segment near the end also had some very L-O-W frequency sound to exercise one's subwoofer. Very impressive albeit somewhat distorted. All in all the sound was a wee bit more `trebley' than in the more modern releases but this minor flaw was easily forgotten as I was enveloped in Miklos Rozsa's almost-symphonic score with each character having his or her own specific and identifiable theme woven throughout.

There is a generous quantity of amazing Bonus features to be found on disc 3 including newsreels, trailers, screen tests, a music-only soundtrack AND an amazing film chronicle, Charlton Heston & Ben-Hur: A Personal Journey; lovingly compiled and presented by the star's filmmaker son, Fraser. As if all these extra features are not enough, the original 1925 silent version of Ben Hur is also included (this segment I have not viewed yet).
This 3-disc 50th Anniversary set coupled with Amazon's speedy delivery and generous pricing make one hungry for more of these classic epics to be released in BluRay HiDef format and with the same attention to detail as this team achieved (perhaps a region-free BluRay version of El Cid is coming soon?).

I cannot recommend this BluRay Ben-Hur Anniversary set highly enough! If you are a lover of classic films and appreciate technical excellence, you must own this release. I give it an unequivocal 5+ stars!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 9 November 2011
Ben Hur is, quite simply, a lesson in filmmaking. Once you take a step back its hard to believe that, what is arguably one of the top ten greatest motion pictures of all time was produced over 50-years ago, and twelve-million dollars was breaking the bank of MGM. Yet it remains as epic as what it surely must have been when it was first released, and perhaps most prevalent, is even more inspiring than what can expect today from any release. This is sad, for it demonstrates that no matter how much computer power you can pack into a room, or how monstrous a budget the studio and producer are willing to settle, neither technology nor money can conjure up epic craftsmanship. It is clearly a sign that something has gone wrong when we can today fail so miserably with more resources than anyone could even need.

This is where Ben Hur strikes hot - the amount of heart that was put in to every single aspect of the production. The whole reason MGM were willing to spend so much when they were already in trouble was to create the "modern masterpiece", the film to which others could be judged beside. This testament holds true even now. When you watch the famous chariot race scene, you are completely aware that just about every Health and Safety procedure we know today is completely abandoned. So crucifying are some of the stunts and moves as thrown riders are dodging and trampled by horses that you can't help but gasp and cringe.

Equally, Heston's inspiring performance cannot help but bring a tear to the eyes of anyone watching as he is reunited with mother and sister at the end of the film, following the sacrifices of 'Jesus'. I'm far from a religious man, but it says a lot when a film can so artistically portray the wonders of biblical adventure, and make it worthy to sweep '11' Academy Awards.

The restoration for this Blu-ray is another achievement on its own, given the apparent state of the original negatives. It was an 8K scan (currently the highest resolution possible) on the original 65mm film, which itself is already a leap up from regular 35mm film stock. Aside from some very minor 'streak' issues now and again (which are barely noticeable to the untrained eye), it is a revitalisation to which others should be judged by. It is breathtaking. Natural grain is readily intact, and appears very filmic as it doesn't have the 'floaty' or smudged look that many studios compromise when cleaning up their films. The film shows absolutely no signs of digital enhancement or tampering in the cause of clean up. Detail is simply amazing for a film this old; I would say it easily surpasses any 'modern' film I've seen on Blu-ray. What I'm most intrigued by is how much of that detail fills the backgrounds, for you can see so far into the distance and everything is still defined. Even the colours have a natural Technicolor glow and show no signs over over-saturation which, again, can happen in some film restorations.

Of course, since the film has such a wide aspect ratio (2.76:1) you will certainly need at least a 32" TV to start appreciating the detail and scale of this movie. I'm pretty envious of those fortunate enough to have projectors/plasma displays!

Ben Hur's soundtrack also plays a major contribution to the enjoyment of the film, so fans will be pleased that this also has an excellent new reproduction. It sounds absolutely marvellous for its day, so you won't be afraid of cranking it up in all its uncompressed glory. Its like having an orchestra in your room.

Included are a modest variety of bonus features that do a great job of outlining the films production; the best being one dedicated to Charlton Heston's own diary, as narrated by his son, daughter, wife and many other people whom were a part of his life. This is a very fascinating documentary that, at almost one and a half hours long, cottons rare home film footage (16mm), pictures and accounts of his life.

The film is spread across 2 x Blu-ray discs, with a third being dedicated to the extras to ensure maximum quality of the film.

Less is probably more when reviewing a film like Ben Hur, as it has been documented so much already. All the customer needs to know with this release is that it represents ridiculously good value for money; you're getting one of the best films ever made, a restoration that has surely set a new standard and some excellent quality bonus features. Don't forget the posh slip-cover too!
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on 6 April 2008
Today the news told of the death of Charlton Heston. I have owned this set for some time and have waited for the right opportunity to watch the main feature - today seemed to be that day. In tribute I watched the 1959 version of Ben-Hur that is on this DVD set.

The 1959 version we all know is spread over two discs, and is presented in a 2.76 aspect ratio which is very wide. Visually it is mostly excellent, with great clarity and vibrancy lending an intimacy and opulence (or oppression) to scenes that compels the viewer. Colour, light and shadow are used to great effect and most scenes have a detail and depth to them that is rare, especially so for a film nearly 50 years old. As I understand it from the extras disc, the camera system used was brand new at the time, utilising a 65mm film that was about four times the size of conventional film. Alas there are some flaws, although they can be forgiven when so much is so good. The most glaring flaw is I believe a product of the DVD encoding process, where solid reds such as the Roman cloaks are jaggedly framed against high contrast backgrounds and the body of red colour is rendered unsightly. This is evident mostly in medium and close shots and at times it is so artificial looking that the cloaks appear as if they are CGI additions. Fortunately the film is so detailed and intricate it is no burden to look elsewhere to avoid occasional visual offence. I've seen this in other discs also (the bar scene in Glengarry Glen Ross with the solid red background comes to mind). That or my DVD player is showing its age. The audio is in Dolby 5.1 and is excellent throughout. The surround channels even get a bit of a workout in some scenes, adding further to the film.

The 1925 version is included on it's own disc. I watched this a few weeks ago and found it a reasonably compelling film. The story is the same, but details differ. This is apparent in the slightly different trajectory of the characters' developments, which seems to take the momentum out of some scenes. I was surprised to see the sea battle and the chariot race in there, and I was even more surprised at how good they were. Particular mention goes to the use of primitive monochrome colours used in some scenes. The sound accompaniment was a little overwhelming for me, as it never lets up. I prefer the 1959 version in every way, but it still stands up as a good film and a great extra in this set. The remaining disc is full of extras, which will probably tell you everything you might ever want to know about the two films. I found the screen tests most interesting. I must mention that there is a commentary for the 1959 version by Charlton Heston and T. G. Hatcher (film historian) that I look forward to listening to in the future.

If I've learnt anything from Charlton Heston, it is to never break a stare and never blink, just let the look convey the scene. He does that a lot as Ben-Hur. Charlton Heston is gone now, but we can hold the stare and let the eyes glaze. That is enough to convey the loss. This is most definitely one of the greatest films made and this DVD set is superb. Aside from a few forgivable flaws the film as presented here is excellent and most highly recommended.
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on 31 March 2012
Please accurately describe the audio and video quality of any Blu-Ray you review. Thanks to those who do this.

The video quality of this Blu-Ray is excellent. I give it a 9.98 on a 10.0 scale. It looks perfect, except for some very, very fine grain that is barely noticeable in some scenes (mostly the sky). I sit about 7 feet away from a 52" LCD, and I could hardly even see it. You can pretty much say that there is no grain in this Blu-Ray movie. Colors are fantastic. Sometimes faces seemed a little soft. But I am being very picky with these criticisms. Blacks are black, without grain, and without any distortion. This is the best video quality I've ever seen in an older movie, and I cannot remember any newer movie looking better.

Sound is DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, which is adequate at most times, very good during a few instances. Mostly there is no surround sound, but when you hear it, it is subtle. Except at the end, when surround sound is strong. There could have been more surround sound during the chariot race.

Aspect ratio is wider than the usual 2.35:1. I think it is listed as 2.76:1, but it looked more like 2.5:1 to me.

This is a very long movie, on two discs. The movie lasts 2 hours and 22 minutes on the first disc, and an hour and 20 minutes on the second disc, for a total of 222 minutes (3 hours and 42 minutes). The first disc ends with an intermission. At the beginning there is an Overture that last for several minutes. There are no credits at the end.

I did not look at the special features on the third disc.
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