Ben-Hur (1959)

Ben-Hur is a movie based of the story of the book by Lew Wallace about an upper class jew, Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), in Jerusalem and his journey from there to being a slave in the galleys and eventually to a very successful chariot racer. It’s a film about a person’s life over many years after some dramatic changes, similar to movies like Doctor Zhivago or Forrest Gump. I personally enjoy movies like this as they haven’t failed to disappoint for me. David Lean is especially keen with these movies and I was surprised to find out that he hadn’t directed this one. More about the movie, It’s one of the longest movies I have ever seen at 3 hours and 42 minutes long, but I wasn’t bored for a second. William Wyler does a spectacular job of making a very visual story that a deaf man could follow along with. Charlton Heston’s character of Judah Ben-Hur is performed in a way so that you feel for him and understand him and his motives. Stephen Boyd who plays Messala does a great job of being dislikeable. The movie was also easy to understand plot-wise, you don’t need to be a major nerd on the movie to know what’s happening. The cinematography was amazing, almost every shot, especially shots from the chariot racing scene, were memorable. There was a scene in which Ben-Hur is a slave being dragged across miles and miles of land to be sent to the galleys and they eventually get to a small village where there is a person who gives him some water even though the Roman guards told people not to give water to Ben-Hur specifically. The way that the scene is shot makes you feel like this person is going to be a major character, and the camera is about to show their face, but it just doesn’t. The viewer is desperate to know who it is but the film refuses to let them know, and the movie is arranged so well that everything else in it distracts you from the mystery of who this person is so it doesn’t bother you for the entire movie, potentially ruining the experience for yourself. This movie is a masterpiece.