Ben-Hur (or Benhur) is a 1959 movie directed by William Wyler, and is the third film version of Lew Wallace’s novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880). It premiered at Loews Theater in New York City on November 18, 1959. The film went on to win a record of eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, a feat equaled only by Titanic (1997) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).
Director – William Wyler
Writers – Lew Wallace, Karl Tunberg
Release – 10 December 1959
Genre – Action | Adventure | Drama | Romance
Tagline – A Tale of the Christ
Awards – Won 11 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 5 nominations
Charlton Heston …….. Judah Ben-Hur
Jack Hawkins ………… Quintus Arrius
Haya Harareet ……….. Esther
Stephen Boyd ………… Messala
Hugh Griffith ………… Sheik Ilderim
Martha Scott …………. Miriam
Cathy O’Donnell ……. Tirzah
Sam Jaffe ……………… Simonides
Finlay Currie ………… Balthasar
Frank Thring ………… Pontius Pilate
Terence Longdon …… Drusus
George Relph ………… Tiberius Caesar
André Morell ………… Sextus
Judah Ben-Hur lives as a rich Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century. Together with the new governor his old friend Messala arrives as commanding officer of the Roman legions. When Prince Judah Ben-Hur hears that his childhood friend Messala has been named to command the Roman garrison of Jerusalem, he is thrilled. He soon finds however that his friend has changed and has become an arrogant conqueror, full of the grandeur of Rome.At first they are happy to meet after a long time but their different politic views separate them.
During the welcome parade a brick falls down from Judah’s house and barely misses the governor. Although Messala knows that they are not guilty he sends Judah to the galleys and throws his mother and sister into prison. When Judah refuses to divulge the names of Jews who oppose Roman rule, Messala decides to make an example of him and sends him off as a galley-slave. But Judah swears to come back and take revenge. Through fate and good fortune, Judah survives the galleys and manages to return to Jerusalem in the hopes of finding his mother and sister, who were also imprisoned, and to seek revenge against his one-time friend.
The chariot race sequence in the Circus Maximus (an amazing replica of the one in Rome) is one of the most thrilling and famous in film history. The site of the race, the Circus Maximus in Jerusalem (Judea), was constructed on over 18 acres of backlot space at Cinecitta Studios outside Rome, and the filming of the sequence took about five weeks. Except for two of the most spectacular stunts, both Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd did all their own chariot driving in the carefully-choreographed sequence.