Thursday, July 19, 2007


BEN-HUR (1959, USA, William Wyler, Karl Tunberg screenplay from Lew Wallace novel)

I love Pauline Kael's summation: "Lew Wallace's hectic potboiler-classic has everything – even leprosy." Not to mention a chariot race. The 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (penned by a Civil War general) got the silent treatment in 1907 and then again in 1926, but it was the late fifties version that pulled out all the stops and nicked all the hardware, taking home statues for eleven of its twelve Oscar nominations. The story of a Jewish prince who vows revenge after being betrayed into slavery by a Roman officer unfolds against the backdrop of Jesus' life. Pretty much the flagship of the Romans vs Christians sub-genre of sword and sandal flicks, with uncredited writing contributions by heavyweights of the mid-century religious drama movement Christopher Fry and Maxwell Anderson and just general all-round literary heavyweight Gore Vidal. Apparently the stormy crucifixion scene made quite an impression on Adele Reinhartz, who sees it echoed in climactic moments of THE TRUMAN SHOW, SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and PLEASANTVILLE.


Available at Videomatica

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