Saturday, May 20, 2006


One of those films that's so legendary I just had to see it at some point in my life. It was absolutely huge (both in terms of box office and production costs) for its time, and looks it.

It's very long, for a start, and there are more extras than I remember seeing in any film apart from Metropolis. The story is another epic one, and as such it starts out a bit slowly. I didn't realise it's also the story of Jesus, but apparently that's one of the main points of the whole thing. Seemed like a bit of a sideline to the whole Ben-hur thing to me, though.

Another thing I didn't know was just how homoerotic the thing is - lots of semi-naked men looking longingly at each other, having long, lingering embraces. Watching the documentary, it seems this was intentional in at least one of the scenes. The initial reunion between Ben-hur and his childhood Roman friend was scripted as an actual lovers' quarrel. The unstated subtext was that they'd had some kind of relationship before the Roman went away, and the Roman wants to renew it now he's returned.

Ben-hur's spurning of him is the catalyst for pretty much all the following events in the movie. I'm not sure if this was commonly known when the film was contemporary, but it certainly makes things a bit more interesting!

Anyway, once things speed up a bit, this is quite an enjoyable, if simple film. The chariot race is renowned as one of the greatest movie action sequences ever, and justifiably so.

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