Ben-Hur (movie, 1959)

Ben-Hur is an American film of William Wyler released in 1959 .

Adapted from the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ , of Lew Wallace appeared in 1880 , the peplum epic whose action is in the st century, is a film in the history of the monument by the extent of its implementation on stage and sequences with a great show such as the naval battle , the chariot race and the crucifixion of Christ . It also remains one of the three most awarded films with eleven Oscars .

The original novel was the subject of three other adaptations, including that of 1925 with Ramón Novarro in the title role.


Jerusalem in the st century. Judah Ben-Hur, prince of Judea , finds his childhood friend Messala come to take the head of the Roman garrison of the city. Messala is drunk with the power conferred on him by Emperor Tiberius , while Ben-Hur only wants to live in peace, despite the threat of rebellion in Judea. Having to choose between his friendship for Messala and his loyalty to his homeland, Ben-Hur chooses the loyalty that binds him to his people, which earned him the ferocious hatred of Messala. Back home, he learns that Esther, the daughter of his steward, a slave, is getting married to a man she barely knows. Ben-Hur, despite her love for her, gives her freedom as a wedding gift.

Shortly after, while the new governor , Valerius Gratus , parade in town, tiles fall from the house of Judah and fail to kill the Roman. Messala knows his innocent friend but, having the task of subduing the rebellion, considers that he will be dreaded if he shows himself capable of cruelty towards an old friend; he betrayed Judah by condemning him to the galleys and throwing his mother (Miriam) and his sister (Tirzah) into prison. When Esther and her father come soon to worry about their fate, it is also thrown into the dungeon.

On the way that leads him into captivity, while he dies of thirst, Ben-Hur is denied the right to drink, but he receives water from the hands of a mysterious man that even Roman soldiers respect ( it is actually Jesus of Nazareth ). Three years later, the Romans decided to purge the Mediterranean Sea of Macedonian pirates . During the confrontation, the person in charge of the galley where Judah, the Roman consul Quintus Arrius, is suffering falls to the sea and Ben-Hur saves his life. His fleetannihilated, convinced of his defeat, Quintus Arrius wants to put an end to his life, but Ben-Hur prevents him from doing so. Collected later, they will learn the Roman victory. To thank him for saving his life, and having obtained for him a favor from the Emperor Tiberius , Quintus Arrius adopts Ben-Hur and offers him freedom.

During his stay in Rome , Ben-Hur meets a friend of Arrius, Pontius Pilate, and is also a skilled tank driver. Despite his victories and paternal affection, he longs to return to Judea. Back home, he meets Sheikh Ilderim, owner of four beautiful white Arabian horses , who offers him to become his charioteer during a chariot race to be held in Jerusalem.. Learning that Messala has won this event multiple times, Ben-Hur declines yet. He returns home to discover that his steward is still living in his dilapidated palace with his daughter and a mute prisoner he met during his detention; he was tortured and lost the use of his legs, but was able to hide the fortune of his master who remained intact.

Worried for his sister and mother, Ben-Hur will question Messala; he presents himself to him in a toga under his new Roman identity Arrius the Younger and, realizing that his former friend does not know the fate of his detainees, swears to return the next day. Messala then orders that we find the prisoners; After consulting the archives and descending into the deepest dungeons, we discover that they are still alive and have contracted leprosy , a contagious disease that is then incurable. Driven from the city, they secretly go to the courtyard of their former home; Esther sees them then, and after inquiring about Judah’s fate, they make Esther promise that she will announce their death so that he can keep their image intact in her memory, a promise she will keep.

He meets Pontius Pilate , who has become Governor of Judea to replace Gratus, who announces that he has become a Roman citizen . He sees the means to avenge Messala and eventually accepts the offer of Sheik Ilderim.

At the start of the race, Messala arrives in the arena with a Greek tank whose wheels are equipped with spikes used to destroy enemy tanks or hurt the horses. The race is terrible because the drivers are fighting a fierce battle, Messala being the most formidable. He forces Ben-Hur to perform various feats to stay on the track and alive. Following a violent collision between their tanks, Messala falls and is trampled by his own horses and those of other tanks. Ben-Hur wins the race and accepts the laurels of glory . He then goes to the bedside of Messala who, before dying as a result of his wounds, cruelly announces the fate of Miriam and Tirzah.

Collapsed, Ben-Hur goes home. The next day, despite the danger of being contaminated, he goes to the Valley of Lepers at the gates of Jerusalem, where the incurables and the plague victims are reclusive . He then sees Miriam and Tirzah at a distance, which are fed by Esther. An altercation ensues, he accuses the young woman of lying, while she reproaches him for having become like Messala, feeding on hatred and seeking revenge. But their feelings are stronger. Esther confesses her love to Ben-Hur and then tells him to know someone who can heal the lepers: Jesus of Nazareth. They decide to leave to find him in Jerusalem.

But it is too late because Pontius Pilate has just sentenced Jesus to death. During the Stations of the Cross , Ben-Hur recognizes the man who once quenched his thirst and tries to return the favor, but he is brutally repulsed by the Roman soldiers while Jesus is led to the place of crucifixion. While Esther returns to the valley with Miriam and Tirzah, Ben-Hur attends, upset, at the death of Jesus.

Two miracles then occur: the storm breaks, the earth trembles, and the rain falls, refreshing and washing the land of Judea. The women, taken refuge in a cavity at the foot of Mount Golgotha , the place of Christ’s torment, are wet with the blood flowing from the wounds of the crucified. Back home, Ben-Hur finds them cured. He can look to the future with serenity. The last shot shows a shepherd leading his sheep in front of the Calvary and his three crosses whose bodies were lowered, standing out against the sky of a new dawn, while the choristers of the Sistine Chapel chant an alleluia on the main theme of the film.

Technical sheet

  • Original title: Ben-Hur
  • Director: William Wyler
  • Director (second team): Yakima Canutt and Andrew Marton for the chariot race, as well as Sergio Leone and Mario Soldati
  • Director (third team): Richard Thorpe for the naval battle between Romans and Macedonians
  • Scenario: Karl Tunberg , based on the Ben-Hur novel : A Tale of the Christ by Lewis Wallace
  • Artistic direction: William A. Horning and Edward C. Carfagno
  • Sets: Hugh Hunt
  • Costumes: Elizabeth Haffenden
  • Makeup: Charles Parker
  • Hairstyles: Gabriella Borzelli
  • Photography: Robert L. Surtees
  • Sound: Franklin Milton , assisted by Sash Fischer and William Steinkamp
  • Editing: Ralph E. Winters , John D. Dunning and Margaret Booth (uncredited)
  • Music: Miklós Rózsa
  • Production: Sam Zimbalist
  • Production Companies: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Loew’s Incorporated
  • Distribution Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
  • Budget: 15 million $
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Format: Technicolor Colors – 65mm Anamorphic (MGM Camera 65) – 2.76: 1 ( Ultra Panavision 70 ) 1 – 6-Track Stereo Sound (Westrex Recording System)
    • Copies 70 mm the ratio 2.59: 1 (anamorphic) and 2.20: 1 (flat screens) – stereophonic sound six magnetic tracks
    • 35mm copies at 2.55: 1 ratio (anamorphic) 2 – 4-track stereo sound 3
  • Genre: Peplum
  • Duration: 214 minutes – 31 Reels = 6,032 m. = 19,791 feet 4
  • Release dates:
    •  United States :
    •  Quebec :
    •  France :(premiere at Gaumont-Palace in the presence of Charlton Heston) 5 – Adaptation of the original dialogues in French: Jean Anouilh (uncredited) 6
  • All public


  • Charlton Heston (VF: Jean-Claude Michel ) 7 : Judah Ben-Hur
  • Jack Hawkins (VF: William Sabatier ) 7 : Quintus Arrius
  • Haya Harareet (VF: Maria Tamar ) 7 : Esther
  • Stephen Boyd (VF: Marc Cassot ) 7 : Messala
  • Hugh Griffith (VF: Robert Manuel ) : Sheik Ilderim
  • André Morell (VF: René Arrieu ) : Sextus
  • Martha Scott (VF: Mony Dalmès ) 7 : Miriam
  • Cathy O’Donnell (VF: Jeanine Freson ) 7 : Tirzah
  • Sam Jaffe (VF: Henri Ebstein ) : Simonides
  • Finlay Currie (VF: Jean Marchat ) : Balthazar
  • Finlay Currie (VF: Jean-Paul Moulinot ) : the narrator
  • Frank Thring (VF: Jean-Pierre Marielle ) : Pontius Pilate
  • Terence Longdon (VF: Jacques Thébault ) : Drusus
  • George Relph (VF: Henri Cremieux ) : Tiberius

French version realized in the summer of 1960 under the artistic direction of Jacques Barclay in the MGM Parisian auditorium on rue Condorcet, 9th arrondissement 8 (credited only on 70mmcopies ).

And, among the uncredited actors:

  • Adi Berber : Malluch
  • Marina Berti : Flavia, companion of Ben Hur in Rome
  • Lydia Clarke : a guest of Quintus Arrius in Rome
  • José Gréci : Marie
  • Richard Hale : Gaspar
  • Claude Heater : Christ
  • Réginald Lal Singh : Melchior
  • Duncan Lamont : Marius
  • Howard Lang : the hortator
  • Tutte Lemkow : a leper
  • Laurence Payne : Joseph
  • Mino Doro (VF: Gérard Férat) : Valerius Gratus
  • John Le Mesurier (VF: Roland Ménard ) : the arena surgeon
  • Stevenson Lang (VF: Paul Ville ) : a blind man
  • Aldo Silvani (VF: Gerard Férat) : a Nazarene
  • Noel Sheldon (VF: Michel Gatineau ) : a centurion


The film is registered since 2004 at the National Film Registry to be kept at the Library of Congress because “culturally, historically or aesthetically important. ” 9


With eleven Oscar, Ben-Hur is the most awarded movie in the history of cinema, later joined by Titanic in 1998 and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2004.

  • Oscar 1960 :
    • Oscar for best film for producer Sam Zimbalist
    • Oscar for Best Actor for Charlton Heston
    • Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Hugh Griffith
    • Oscar for Best Director for William Wyler
    • Oscar for Best Artistic Direction for William A. Horning , Edward C. Carfagno and Hugh Hunt
    • Oscar for best photography (color) for Robert Surtees
    • Oscar for Best Costume Design for Elizabeth Haffenden
    • Oscar for Best Visual Effects for Milo B. Lory (audios), A. Arnold Gillespie and Robert MacDonald (visuals)
    • Oscar for Best Editing for John D. Dunning, and Ralph E. Winters
    • Oscar for the best film music for Miklós Rózsa
    • Oscar for the best sound mix for Franklin Milton
  • Golden Globes 1960:
    • Best Dramatic Film
    • Best director for William Wyler
    • Best Supporting Actor for Stephen Boyd
    • Special award for Andrew Marton as director of the chariot race
  • British Academy Film Award for Best Film 1960
  • David di Donatello of the best foreign production in 1961


  • Oscars 1960 : Best adapted scenario for Karl Tunberg
  • Golden Globes 1960: Best Actor in a Drama for Charlton Heston





Quadriges during the chariot race scene

The highlight of the film, the famous chariot race , required five months of preparation and 78 days of filming (61 thoroughbreds were selected). Its development and training is done on a replica of the track arranged behind the terraces of the circus. It was taken care of by Andrew Marton and Yakima Canutt , action scene specialists. The 8-hectare setting featured a 1400-meter track running around 26-meter high monumental statues. 3,600 tons of sand from various Mediterranean beaches were needed for the construction of the site. 10 He could receive between 6,000 and 15,000 spectators on the plateau dug in Cinecittàwhere the whole film was made for 9 months after 2 years of preproduction 11 .

The use of a 65 mm wide film , whose photographed image was anamorphosed by a prism with a ratio of 1.25 (ie a surface 275% larger than that of the standard 35 mm ), allowed a particularly sharp shooting. , very luminous, brightly colored and without grain, almost three times wider than it is high (2.76: 1). The cameramen used pick-ups thatsupported the equipment and their technicians as close as possible to the crews. In crashes, small loads of dynamite commanded by the drivers sprayed the wheels, while the horses were automatically unhooked from their team and continued their gallop without being injured, each tank weighing more than 400 kilograms. One of six bulky camerasMGM 65 whose price was then $ 100 000 the unit was destroyed during the pursuit, two charioteers having poorly negotiated a bend 12 .

The white horses of the Ben-Hur team were reportedly transported from Czechoslovakia by first class aircraft. These are actually three crews of four similar Lipizzan horses that appear on the screen; trained one at a trot, another at a gallop near the platforms supporting the cameras, and the last at jumping. For the dangerous sequences that Charlton Heston was not allowed to make himself by the insurance, a flexible molding of his face was applied on the traits of the stuntman Joe Canutt (son of Yakima Canutt ), to complete the illusion that the actor himself led the ensemble 13. The scene where Ben-Hur was rejected at the end of his chariot and managed to go there, is actually an unexpected accident occurred to stunt 14 . The shots were kept and integrated into the film with a close-up shot of Joe Canutt wearing Ben Hur’s soft mask on the face, followed in a different angle from a tighter Charlton Heston shot on the drawbar and spanning the chariot. to take his place by seizing the reins again.

Two doctors and two nurses were permanently in a relief post near the plateau with twenty beds. Nine drivers were seriously injured.

Finally, the catches kept in editing are only a tiny part of all those shot. In duration, the ratio between the two is indeed only 1 in 263 15 .


Projection format

It is difficult to define the original projection format of the film since the Ultra Panavision 70 was created to allow a variable ratio, just like the Todd-AO , developed by Michael Todd in 1954 to compete with the Cinérama process , too expensive and complex.

At the end of La Tunique in 1953 (the first film in CinemaScope ), the vast majority of cinemas had two 35 mm projectors operating alternately to chain reels continuously (the horizontal single-loop platters do not exist yet). They were equipped with lenses anamorphic Hypergonar 2.66: 1 ratio and 2.55: 1 after the addition of magnetic soundtracks, and corresponding screens 16. The space requirements to integrate a monophonic optical track had subsequently reduced the image to the 2.35: 1 ratio. Screens remained in larger size were then reduced in width by moving borders of black velvet including metal substrates moved horizontally on rails – and vertically to the 70 mm – in order to guide the different formats projected at the time 17 .

The “high-end” cinemas had opted for 70 mm film projectors (such as the Philips DP 70 or Victoria 8) 18 , offering a 2.20: 1 image quality significantly better than the format. 35 mm anamorphic, hypergonar lens sometimes causing at the time geometric deformations and a lack of sharpness undesirable. Finally, some high-end cinemas were equipped with curved screens reminiscent of Cinérama and other equivalent systems, including the Kinopanorama (curved screen of 240 2 ) in Paris where 70 mm spherical copies were used.

With MGM’s finances in danger at the end of the 1950s and the Ben-Hur project launched to re-float, the studio could not afford to try to impose a new format. The need was therefore to produce a film that could be simultaneously projected in anamorphic 35 mm at a ratio of 2.55: 1, while having the visual quality sufficient to make copies 70 mm at the ratio of 2,20: 1, or even Cinérama. For this purpose, the producers chose to shoot with 65 mm cameras equipped with an anamorphic prism of 1.25 ratio (credited to the credits under the name MGM Camera 65 ) offering a ratio of 2.76: 1 19 .

This system referred to hereafter Ultra Panavision 70 allowed out copies to 2.59: 1 ratio (close to the Cinerama report), copies anamorphic 35 mm cropped ( soft matte ) 2.55: 1 and 2.35: 1 and copies “Plates” 20 70 mm at a ratio of 2.20: 1, in order to broadcast the film in as many rooms as possible.

Upon its release in 1960, Ben-Hur was mainly projected copies 35 mm 2.55: 1 with four stereo magnetic tracks; France copies in 2.35: 1 were also distributed as a result of the addition in parallel half wide emergency optical track of 1 mm , then prints 35 mm anamorphic with only a monaural optical track have circulated for rooms not equipped 21 . It has also been used in “flat” 70 mm copies at a ratio of 2.20: 1 with 6 stereo magnetic tracks in the prestige rooms, the 5 mmadditional (compared to the format of the negative) allowing the addition of two magnetic sound tracks on both sides of the perforations, are four separate channels in addition to the other two placed to the right and left of the photogram . A few 70 mm rooms equipped with a 2.76: 1 screen and the anamorphic lens at 1.25 ratio, but this remains very anecdotal.

At its new operation in 1969, flat copies and some copies spherical 70 mm for curved screens were projected alongside 35 mm anamorphic 2.55: 1 existing. If the original shooting format of Ben-Hur is therefore 2.76: 1, its projection format was mostly 2.55: 1.

Box office

The film garnered US $ 74 million in revenue during its first US operation 22 and totaled 13,853,547 admissions in France in the last 50 years (including 1,199,966 in Paris) placing Ben Hur at the top of the films released. in 1960 23 .

Emerged [ change | change the code ]

Ben-Hur was released on Blu-ray in the United States on September 27, 2011 and in France on October 26 following. For the first time, the original negative 65 mm was scanned in 6K high definition and is presented in its original format of 2.76: 1 (providing a broader picture but not as high as in the cinema exhibition). Restored frame by frame for a total cost of one million US dollars it is presented under Warner Bros. label .

The film is accompanied by an unprecedented 78-minute documentary on Charlton Heston’s life, illustrated by 16- mm family photos and family films shot by his wife Lydia Clarke. The comment is provided by their son Fraser, who reads many pages of the diary of his father, written during the nine months of filming, whose first “crank turn” was given May 20, 1958 Cinecitta studios in Rome.

After restoration, the film is available for theatrical exploitation in DCP (Digital Cinema Package) which is the equivalent in digital cinema of the silver print of traditional cinema.


Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (translated on the French versions of the posters in 1960 by ” Ben-Hur: An account of the evangelical times “)

Whether in VO or VF, this title in its entirety, wanted from the beginning in 1880 by the author of the novel Lewis Wallace , therefore places the heart of the story Jesus of Nazareth . In fact, already in the version of Fred Niblo in 1925 , the scenes where appears the silhouette of Christ are presented in color.

In 1959, singer Karl Tunberg and director William Wyler made the choice to ask the composer Miklos Rosza to transpose the main theme in a very sweet version performed on a church organ and broadcast in the room speakers. projection, suddenly providing peace and serenity. This theme returns throughout the film when it is alluded to Jesus. For example, when dying of thirst on the way to Tire , a carpenter from Nazareth , defying the prohibition of the Roman guards, gives drink to Ben-Hur. Or in the galleywhen he says after he has been removed from the chain that hindered him: “Once already a man helped me in pain, I still do not know why …”. Same thing when under the tent of Chek Ildérim, the old Balthazar tells him that in his youth, the child he saw born in Bethlehem is indeed the “son of God”.

Ben-Hur defends himself against this belief which finally manages to convince Esther; and he will be certain only when he recognizes on the way of the cross , the stranger who five years ago had quenched him in the desert. At this point in the film the sequence is reversed on the screen, and it is no longer the Nazarene who follows Ben-Hur’s gaze to go to the galleys, it is Ben-Hur who sees helplessly, Jesus walk towards the ultimate sacrifice. The red coats of two centurions then meet, giving the impression that a curtain is closing. The following plan shows Jesus crucified and we hear three shots of mass driving the nail into the feet of the tortured; THREE TIMES, as in the theater, and that’s what it’s all about since the era of the new Alliance will begin . To Ben-Hur’s question: “What did he do to deserve this? ” Balthazar replied:” He agreed to take upon himself all our sins , that’s why he says he came into this world. ” “For this purpose,” laments Judah. “This beginning,” rectifies the old man. Then Ben-Hur’s gaze is transformed, hatred, anger, and the desire for revenge disappear as soon as Jesus dies when he becomes Christ . The elements are unleashed, the storm breaks out, from the foot of the cross the blood flows and will mingle with the water flowing on the ground of the Holy Land, and beyond all over the world. This is shown to us thanks to a backward traveling and diving running through the gnarled trunks of the olive trees; the camera will stop its race only to discover, in a vertical pan , a sky of a peaceful blue and an intense light through the foliage. When Judah finally returns home, it is to confess to Esther: “Even at the moment of his death I heard him say – my Father forgive them, because they do not know what they do – and to the sound of his voice all spirit of hate has abandoned me.

Around the film

seesections “Trivia”, “Other Details”, “Did you know? “,” Quotations “,” Around … “,  etc. , may be inappropriate in articles  (December 2013) .
  • In his opening remarks at Cinéccittà in April 1958, William Wyler told his team: “Gentlemen, I was an assistant on the 1925 version. So one of you will probably do the next one. Ben Hur at the xxi th century ! » 24
  • William Wyler demanded actors with a British accent for the Romans, and an American accent for the Jews. Anxious not to shock Christians and Jews, he requested the presence of representatives of the Vatican and the Jewish community for all religious aspects of the film.
  • Judah and Messala could not have eyes of similar colors, Stephen Boyd was forced to wear brown lenses for the role.
  • The film also holds the greatest number of speaking roles (490) [ref. necessary] .
  • Martha Scott performer for the second time the mother of Charlton Heston, after his role in The Ten Commandments of Cecil B. DeMille in 1956.
  • Other actors have been offered the role of Ben-Hur: Rock Hudson , Paul Newman and Burt Lancaster . The latter declined the offer ( he explained that having grown up in a district of New York with Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Irish, Blacks, in an extremely diverse environment, he refused to embody anyone ” to the triumphant and ultimately sectarian faith. “In addition, Lancaster was one of the few American actors to call himself agnostic, which was very frowned upon [ref.). As for Paul Newman, it is by coquetry: he claimed not to have adequate legs to wear costumes, unconvincing argument since Judah Ben Hur being Jewish is never led to don a Roman officer’s uniform that actually discovered his calves.
  • In order to prevent the sets (representing 300 different sites) from being reused without permission by Italian producers, the MGM decided to have them destroyed at the end of the shoot.
  • The galley used in some fight scenes also caused a lot of problems:
    • the model made according to the plans of a historical specialist was too heavy and did not stand on the water during sea trials. It was therefore installed in a pool with cables attached to the anchor to ensure its stability .
    • the water of the pool not having the color of the Mediterranean , a chemist was engaged to remedy it. However, the chemical components he used created a crust on the surface of the water, which had to be removed at great expense from the sides of the ship.
    • bulky cameras 65 mm (each costing 100 000 $ at the time) could not be operated on board the galley was removed from the pool, cut in half and placed on a tray for filming indoor scenes.
    • the oars, too long, had to be shortened; but having become too light to maneuver, they became little credible. The problem was solved this time by using hydraulic cylinders that pulled them down.
  • 600 sets and 50,000 costumes were made, and many Italian women “sacrificed” their hair (about 200 kilograms) to make wigs and beards that were to be worn by thousands of extras.
  • In total 381,000 meters of film in 65 mm were impressed 25 .
  • The chariot race alone required nearly three months shooting (78 days) with certain plans for the presence of 15,000 extras, the trained horses can not work beyond 45 minutes 26 .
  • Mario Luraschi , trainer and stuntman in almost 500 films, answering a question from Bernard Achour, says: “In my opinion, horses are best trained in Ben-Hur ” 26 .
  • Despite all the care taken in the sequence, we can see many times the tire tracks of the vehicle used for the shots. The most egregious are visible on the 25’14 e blu-ray, in the turning e race turn to the left of the image.
  • On the other hand at the moment of the perilous jump of the tank above the obstacle (chapter 8 at 27 minutes and 6 seconds) one sees very briefly but clearly a 65 mm camera placed on the ground in slight low-angle and sheltered from the sun by a sheeted support, at the bottom of the right edge of the screen 27 .
  • The French expression “Stop your chariot, Ben-Hur” previously existed in the form of “Stop your cart” in the sense of “charrier”, then would have been changed in the popular speaking after the success of the film in 1959 28 . Another funny phrase created on the occasion of the film: “Put it there, Ben Hur! “(In reference to Messala).
  • It is the only film of the MGM when Leo , the iconic lion is static and silent at the express request of William Wyler who wanted to keep without breaking the three notes fortissimo of musical opening 29 .
  • When it was released in France in 1960, the MGM equipped some of its private theaters with a “bi-amplification” sound system, such as the Plaza cinema in Toulouse , a luxurious 1 890-seat theater. Frequencies lower than 120 Hz were separated on the magnetic soundtracks by a cut-off threshold and processed by specific amplifiers supplying 55 cm diameter screen loudspeakers reacting only at the low spectrum between 120 and 20 Hz. . The effects thus obtained gave a very effective acoustic relief to the musical score of Miklós Rózsa, as well as spectacular sequences such as the naval battle, the chariot race or the unleashing of the elements at the time of Christ’s death and the miracle that ensues. This application was not repeated for Ben-Hur’s subsequent releases after the closure of many theaters sold in 1963 in the United States and Europe (including the Plaza ) as a result of MGM’s financial problems.
  • The excellence of the work dubbing into French of Jean-Claude Michel gave Charlton Heston to write him a glowing letter after the Paris premiere, which took place in his presence October 6, 1960 at the Gaumont-Palace 30 . Here is an excerpt:”I’ve always been opposed to dubbed versions of movies. An actor is naturally very sensitive to seeing his own work reinterpreted by another actor, and almost impossible to satisfy. Yet what you did in the role of Judah Ben-Hur pleased me greatly. It must have been an almost incredible difficulty to render with such precision the interpretation and the emotional atmosphere I created in English. [..] If the French love what I did in this film, it’s you I have to thank. I wish to express my gratitude to you. Very sincerely, Charlton Heston 31 ” .
  • Arguing that the film represented the person of Jesus, Ben-Hur was banned from showing in Saudi Arabia . In some communist countries such as the former Yugoslavia , the scenes in which Christ appears are cut off.
  • The death metal group Children of Bodom used a passage from the film as an introduction to their song The Nail .
  • The first three fortissimo notes of the original music of Miklos Rozsa are included in the film Two at a quarter before Jesus Christ of Jean Yanne .
  • As explained by the Arab Sheik performed by actor Hugh Griffith , the four white horses that guide Ben-Hur during the chariot race are all named stars: Antares , Aldebaran , Altaïr and Rigel .

Other adaptations

  • 1907 : Ben-Hur , short film American silent of Sidney Olcott , with Herman Rottger (Ben-Hur).
  • 1925 : Ben-Hur , American film of Fred Niblo , with Ramon Novarro (Ben-Hur).
  • 2003 : Ben-Hur , animated film by Bill Kowalchuk .
  • 2016 : Ben-Hur , American film of Timur Bekmambetov .
  • 2010 : Ben-Hur , European mini-series directed by Steve Shill, with Joseph Morgan (Ben-Hur).
  • Ben-Hur : Robert Hossein’s French show(September 2006 at the Stade de France )

DVD and Blu-ray

There have been many editions of the film in DVD and Blu-ray format by the publisher Warner Home Video.

  • Double Face DVD Box 2.55: 1 format (*) 16/9 widescreen in French and English Dolby Digital 5.1 with French, English, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, German, Romanian, Bulgarian and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing. On side A, the 1 st part of the film with the interval and the audio commentary of Charlton Heston. On the flip side, the e of the film with the second part of Charlton Heston audio commentary; the Making Of of the film; the test tips and a photo gallery with a collector’s booklet 32 . (*) announced in 1.66: 1
  • DVD Double Face Snap Case on with the same technical specificities as the previous 33 .
  • Prestige 3 DVD box in cardboard sheath with the same technical specificities as the other editions but with a difference: on the side A, in addition to the audio commentary of Charlton Heston and intermission, the only musical track is present and on the B side, the only musical track is also included. On the second DVD, the 143-minute silent subtitled version dating back to 1925. On the third DVD, a 60-minute documentary “Ben Hur Revisited”; the making of 58 minutes; reports on William Wyler; Essay of the actors; Period Report: Oscars 1960 Ceremony and Trailers 34 .
  • Ben Hur Collector’s Edition 3 DVD Digipack on in 2.55 format: 2 widescreen 16/9 in French, English and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 with French, English, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, German, Romanian, Bulgarian, English and Italian subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing. DVD 1 contains the 1 st part of the film with Charlton Heston audio commentary and T. Gene Hatcher, film historian; Entracte; Music track only. DVD 2 contains e of the film with the rest of the audio commentary of Charlton Heston and T. Gene Hatcher and the only music track. The DVD 3 is the one of the bonuses present in the Prestige Box previously published 35 .
  • Ecological DVD case WB Environmental on which is the edition of the first DVD published in 2001 36 .
  • Case Keep Case on which is the same edition as the previous one of 2010 37 .
  • Ultimate Edition Metal Case on  containing 6 discs and a collector’s book (3 Blu-ray, 2 DVD and 1 audio CD):
    • Blu-ray 1: 1 st part of the film in high definition in 2.76: 1 aspect ratio 16/9 1080p in English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian, Polish and Czech and Hungarian 5.1 Dolby Digital 1.0 with French, Spanish, Castilian, Portuguese, Brazilian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Croatian, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Romanian, Korean, Thai, English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, German for the deaf and hard of hearing and Italian for the deaf and hard of hearing; 5 trailers and isolated music track. Disk Zone A, B and C
    • Blu-ray 2: e of the film with the same technical specifications as the first disk. Disk Zone A, B and C
    • Blu-ray 3: New making of Laurent Bouzereau in 78 minutes subtitled HD; Making of 58 minutes dating from 2005; Making of 1993 in VOST; Slide show of the film; Ben Hur film of 1923 present in the prestige edition; 4 actors’ essays; 6 cinema period newspapers; 1960 Oscars ceremony.
    • DVD 1 and DVD 2 of the 2009 Collector’s Edition.
    • CD of the soundtrack of the film.
    • Book with glossy photos and production notes (68 pages).
  • Blu-ray Ben Hur on containing the first two Blu-ray of Ultimate Edition 38 .
  • Blu-ray Ben Hur in Steelbook Edition released on with two discs similar to those of the Blu-ray edition of 2012, a mix of the rebalanced French version including in the room ambience speakers (hence the total absence of breath), and the separate music track 39 .

Leave a comment