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Movie Review: Ben-Hur (1959)

Quick Plot Summary: Classic Best Picture winner tells the fictional, but believable, story of a Jewish man named Ben-Hur set at the time of Christ.

Rating: Great
Suggested Ages: 11+

Back in the 1950's/1960's there was a rash of epic Biblically-related films produced by Hollywood. Ben-Hur is definitely one of the best and won numerous academy awards including Best Picture.

In general, I am not a fan of such films because I don't generally like Hollywood's take on Biblical characters and don't really like mixing true & fiction together when it comes to Bible characters. However, Ben-Hur is different in that it is a fictional story that is simply set in the time of Christ and it reverentially and inspirationally deals with what it shows regarding Jesus. However, the bulk of the film deals with the Jewish man Ben-Hur and his childhood friend that grows up to be a Roman leader who eventually turns on him. While a fictional story, I do feel it "opens up" to the viewer a bit of a glimpse of some of the issues that were going on at the time of Christ and exploring the nature between the Jewish and Roman arrangement, how lepers were dealt with, and more. Ultimately, while the story is primarily focussed on Ben-Hur, it is bookended by the birth and death of Jesus and ends with the forgiveness & hope found in Jesus. You will likely leave this movie feeling uplifted.

This is a long epic movie that is well-produced and acted and is definitely worth a watch. Its most famous scenes are of the chariot race, which are indeed excellent to behold. The film has been remastered and looks stellar in HD.

Content-wise, there is some brutality and violence shown, which is why the suggested age is listed at 11+.

There are other versions/remakes of this film out there, including one from 2016. I have not seen any of those, however the 1959 version is the well-known "classic" and admitedly it is hard for me to envision any other version even getting close to touching it (though I have heard some Christians really like the shorter, but apparently more violent, 2016 version).

Reviewed by Christopher Long,
BodEquip Ministries

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