Just saw Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s version of the epic story of General Lew Wallace’s 19 th century novel of Ben-Hur. When I was a boy I saw the Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur version. The photos are those of the record album of the William Wyler 1959 movie score and souvenir book. I saw it in Cinemascope at the Harris theater in downtown Chicago. It was quite the thrill to see that chariot race. Today I saw it in 3D and on the Ultra screen at the Marcus Majestic cinema here in Wisconsin. I found the new version to be well done. The story line was changed a bit and as far as I’m concerned it added a more in depth human
dimension to the story. Even Jesus is given lines which makes his connection with Ben-Hur all the more touching. Downey and Burnett also made it a tale of the Christ but also of redemption and not revenge. Jack Huston as Jewish Prince Judah Ben-Hur and Toby Kebell as his adopted Roman brother, Messala are convincing in their roles and powerful in their anger at each other and love for each other at the same time. The new chariot race scene will once again have you on the edge of your seat as it did for me over 50 years ago and again in 2016. Morgan Freeman as the African sheik was made for the role with that voice and presence he emanates with ease. Back in 1959 and now today you will find the story compelling but for different reasons. Today we see Rome at first trying to bring peace and then becoming ruthless. You see the Zealots provoking unrest and deaf to Judah Ben-Hur’s call for a peaceful resolution. You will see a very human Jesus who gives his life willingly as he actually speaks to the Judah Ben-Hur character. The twist of having the good thief, Dismas, (who is crucified with Jesus)as a character in the new version ties
the Plot lines together nicely. I encourage people to go see it. The story of love and redemption is just as impressive as the full throttle action sequences.