Film Review by Kam Williams
Faithful Remake of Oscar-Winning Classic Revisits Biblical Themes and Breakneck Chariot Race
It takes a lot of chutzpah to remake the Hollywood epic that won the most Academy Awards in history. But that's just what we have in Ben-Hur, a fairly-faithful version of the 1959 classic starring Charlton Heston.
The films are based on Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, a novel published in 1880 which quickly surpassed Uncle Tom's Cabin as the best-selling American novel of all time. The book's author was Lew Wallace, a Civil War General who had led Union soldiers at the battle of Shiloh.
His inspirational tale of redemption's success was credited to the fact that its timely themes of family, freedom and patriotism helped unify a citizenry torn asunder by years of war and then Reconstruction. Its compassionate tone particularly appealed to Southerners, because of its sympathetic treatment of slave owners, encouraging resolution via reconciliation rather than revenge.
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), this incarnation of Ben-Hur stars Jack Huston as the title character, although the supposed star is easily overshadowed by the film's narrator, Morgan Freeman, who enjoys a very expanded role as Ilderiim, a wealthy Nubian sheik.
Rated PG-13 for violence and disturbing images
Running time: 124 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
To see a trailer for Ben-Hur, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLJdzky63BA