starring Jack Huston, Morgan Freeman, Toby Kebbell, Nazanin Boniadi, Haluk Bilginer and Rodrigo Santoro
written by Keith Clarke and John Ridely
directed by Timur Bechmanbetov
Another film adaptation of the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, by Lew Wallace. Film adaptations include a 1907 silent film (directed by Sidney Olcott); a 1925 silent film (directed by Fred Niblo); the famous 1959 Academy Award-winning version featuring Charlton Heston (directed by William Wyler); and the 2010 Canadian TV mini-series (directed by Steve Shill), which I watched and mistook for a BBC miniseries. I keep looking for a re-make to match the 1959 classic. If that was the intention of the 2010 Canadian production, or this newest version directed by Timur Behmanbetov then they fail badly. I rented this one specifically because Morgan Freeman is in it, so I hoped it would rise to the level of his talent and reputation, and be better than the last one I watched (the Steve Schill version). Too bad. What is it? To challenge the magnificence of Charlton Heston’s version would require a fantastically large budget, and maybe that is dissuading movie studios. But without that kind of commitment all these re-makes unavoidably have a made-for-TV appearance and quality to them, which is not what I want. If anyone is interested in Ben-Hur I recommend reading the book and watching William Wyler’s 1959 extravaganza.
I remember as children my brothers and I excitedly acting out the famous chariot race in our home’s rec room. We had these 1970s-era pastel yellow swivel chairs that were removed from my father’s office waiting room when he re-decorated. We knelt on the chairs facing backwards and abused them like chariots in the circus until they broke. My parents weren’t happy.