Three ‘Ben Hur’ films, the earliest which dates back to 1907, have made history for different reasons. This video explores whether the 2016 ‘Ben Hur’ remake can live up to previous films’ legacy.
Did we need another ‘Ben Hur’ remake?
Another ‘Ben Hur’ remake – the classic story of betrayal, revenge and redemption in the time of Christ…
The latest version, directed by Timur Bekmambetov.
So why make another version of a film that won eleven Oscars in 1960 including Best Picture, Best Director for William Wyler and Best Actor for Charlton Heston?
Speaking at a press conference in Mexico, ahead of the movie’s release, Jack Huston, who plays Ben Hur, said the new film is a different story:
“The 1959 version was a story about revenge, and this, which is kind of beautiful, is a story about hope and redemption and forgiveness.”
The book that the films are based on was written by Lew Wallace in 1880, called ‘Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ.’
Executive Producer of the new film, Roma Downey, says their telling of the story is much closer to the book:
“There are very different plot points in this story, so just because you may have seen the Charlton Heston movie 55 years ago, you haven’t seen this story. You haven’t seen it told this way.”
But there was another film that goes by the exact title of the book made in 1925…
Arguably, a movie that’s put a bigger dent in film history than 1959’s ‘Ben-Hur’ in that it currently holds three Guinness world records.
With a production budget of just under $4 million, ‘Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ’ is the most expensive movie of the silent era.
Starring Ramon Novarro in the title role and directed by Fred Niblo -, it used 48 cameras in it’s sea battle: the most cameras ever used in a single scene.
And the 200,000 ft of film shot for the chariot race, had to be cut down to 750 ft – making it the most edited scene in cinema history.
But film treatments of the book go back even further still…
In 1907, a short called ‘Ben-Hur’ was directed by Sidney Olcott, Harry T.Morey and Frank Rose.
And that production too made it’s mark in history: for being produced without permission from the author’s estate.
A case which ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court, and led to changes in the rules surrounding securing film rights to books.
Given the history of ‘Ben-Hur’ films, the latest version faces a tough challenge living up to the notoriety of it’s predecessors.
Perhaps, once again raising the question: did we need another remake?