Ben-Hur Review

Ben-Hur Review



This film that was launched in August was miserable. Whether it is discussion, or word of mouth at the box office.

Rotten tomato only has 28% freshness.

Ben-Hur review








<<Hollywood Reporter>> comments: What were they thinking ?

Hollywood Reporter






The box office is even more cruel – invested 100 million USD. After 6 days on screen… North American box office only recorded … … 12 million, which is only one-tenth of the investment.

ben-hur review








It has been successfully nominated for the worst 100 box office in nearly 20 years of the North American film history. (No 63)

worst opening - super saturated







Allright, so what had this film done? If you are familiar with any films, you must have heard a popular film called ”Ben-Hur”, and the original novel was already very beautiful.
Written by Lou Wallace, published in 1880, and was a best selling novel in the 19th century. It had sold in numbers that were close to <<Bible>>. From the beginning of the last century, it was adapted into film and television shows, movies, animation, TV drama…. And up until now, it had 10 or more versions.

ben hur 1959

The earliest one was in 1907, and was a 15 minutes back and white drama.  At that moment, movie was only at its infancy stage. Those versions are nominated as natural beauty. They were 1959 film. Directed by William Wheeler.

ben hur 1959

At the 32nd Oscar, it was nominated by 12 and 11 won it. Actor Charlton Heston won the actor of the year.

Charlton Hayston


What was the concept? After that, Oscar had monster reappeared that had monopoly of 11 awards. That is “Titanic” 38 years later.  IMDb rated it as 8.1, “IMDb Top 250” club members. The movie Ben-Hur had a length of 212 minutes, with 4 hours in length. It is exhausting to watch it for 4 hours straight, but you will not be bored. I am not exaggerating. This film is now 60 years old. Even if you watch it today, you will not feel it is out of date. The color was better than oil-painting.

ben hur IMDb Top 250



The Ben-Hur story line is soul-stirring

About Revenge

Ancient Rome, the actor Bing Xu was originally a Jewish nobility. He was originally recognized as gay with Mizraim from the Rome. Bin Xu’s family was in jail, he was assigned to be a labor in warships. It had been a torturing experience for five years. Have a look at how the director uses cameras and angles to tell the story.


Bin Xu and a group of death row prisoners were locked up and assigned to paddle boats on board. The lieutenant was monitoring it himself. He urges the salve to paddle the boats quickly, and the slaves collapsed into exhaustion. The face of the cold-hearted lieutenant, and the hatred from Ben-Hur’s eyes can be repeatedly seen from screen. The drums went faster and faster, the paddles went faster and faster, and the more slaves collapsed. The switch of angles accelerates. At last, it fixed on the exchange of the anger glance between the lieutenant and Bin Xu.


In these few simple pictures, it had summarized how Bin Xu’s hatred had accumulated to an extreme.  Five years later, the warships were destroyed in battle. Bing Xu was washed to the shore, and he regained freedom. He seek revenge for his friends – then it was the climax of the entire film, the carriage wars.


Regarding the technology

At the time of 1959, green screen technology had not been developed yet. Even miniatures were non-existence. So, how to have it happen? Make it! Then, <<Ben-Hur>> had created the largest film in the history of scene — an ancient Roman arena, which covered 18 acres(About 73,000 square meters). It includes a statue up to 9 meters tall. The entire scene took 1000 labors a whole year to build. The crew shipped 36,000 tons of white sand over the floor all the way from Mexico. The group of people responsible for cry and cheers reached 8000 people. The 11 minutes carriage war took 15000 crews. It was Breathtaking.

 ancient Roman arena

The orgasm level is like <<The Fast and the Furious>> in human fresh. There were no substitutes for actors and they have to perform it all by themselves. 40 years later, despite <<Gladiator>> uses a lot of CG effect, in reality, it is nowhere near as beautiful. But, if <<Ben-Hur>> is only an exciting action film, then it can never conquer the cold and difficult Oscar judges.



Connotation of Expression

The powerful area lies in the coat under the story of vengeance. It also expressed the faith and forgiveness of the kernel. After seeing the entire film, you will discover that the main character is not Ben-Hur, but Jesus, who has not even shown his face once. Jesus’s back was facing the camera the whole time. Although Ben-Hur ‘s revenge was a success, he can never regain the happiness of his mother and sister, until he saw Jesus was nailed to death on the cross. Until then, he understands the meaning behind “forgiveness” .  Ben-Hur was relieved from “Living in hatred” and he is saved. The sence of Jesus death was gorgeous! So, whether it is from thinking or entertainment, the movie << Ben-Hur >> in 1959 was the work of god.



What about the new version? In fact, from the confirmation to shoot, the new version is full of difficulties.


About the actors

ben hur review

Originally they asked Tim Hiddleston to be the main actor – but they failed. And then they aimed at the “Wonder Women” – it doesn’t work out too.

Lastly, the main cast became the unknown Jack Houston (who has starred in the HBO drama “Atlantic Empire”) and the iran actress Nazanin Bonnati (who has starred in US drama “Homeland Security”). The level lowered dramatically. According to “Hollywood Reporter” evaluation: the actor put on modern clothes and hairstyle in a scene, which looks as if he is a handsome guy from city! Moreover, he was over passionate, and it seemed like he had not experienced the tragic fate of Ben-Hur at all.



About the director

A Russian-Kazakh film director , Timo Bekmambetov. I have no objective to this director. Actually, I like him a bit. Before coming to Hollywood, he had filmed two Russian fantasy film <<Night Watch>> and <<Shouren>>. He could raise a spinal neon sword from his the back of his neck. Really cool ,right ?

Night Watch

His style also also be seen in his two English film <<Wanted>> and << vampire hunter Lincoln>>, he can imagine using a keyboard to smash someone’s big mouth and say f**k you. It is so cool.


And the bullet twists and turns. In plain words, Beckman Bekmambetov is good at opening a hole in a brain. He loves using a lot of special effect. This style of filming has been demonstrated in <<wanted>>. I need to add points to that. But for <<Ben-Hur>>, it is not suitable. The new version of << Ben-Hur>> , whether it is the war in the ocean or the carriage chase, many of the scenes used a lot of CG. People and objects collided and flew everywhere. Even so, the real sensational shot of the old film is now long gone.


Time film critic Todd Gilchrist said:

The director always let the camera fly, and did not stop to shoot the emotional moments. This made the important character “Jesus” without dept. Finally, the death scene was like a “Show”, he failed to get the original essence. Where is the original essence at the end? Why a remake of the movie makes one feel it lacks the depth?

King Kong

King Kong

I understands that the essence and depth of a movie depends on the time. Good historic dramas are all modern drama. So, a remake of old film must be injected with modern essence to make it attractive. One of the successful example is <<King Kong>>. In the version of 1933, King Kong is a monster. It resembles the Great Depression in our society. At last, King Kong was destroyed, and leave our audience an escape path. It was a relieve. That type of psychology fully match how people “escape reality”. If you replay this in modern times, this is out dated. So, when Peter Jackson remade this version, he removed the wildness of King Kong and replaced it with more humanity. He also ambiguously injected King Kong’s feeling to the beauty… it is no longer the horrific monster, but a hero who sacrifice for love.



The remake renew woman’s aesthetic to men, which best suits modern audience who live in an impetuous, fast, spurious society. In these two years, the failure of <<Total Recall>> and <<Robocop>> had already proven that special effect is not the main element that determines a better film. The 1987 and 2014 version of <<Robocop>> shown that if it does not suit the taste of the audience, it is useless no matter how big the scene is.

I afraid that one day he will see a remake version of <<Forrest Gump>>, Gump might be lost a present, it is useless to circulated around the world for 3 times because no matter how exciting the main character is in this remade film, it is not the original.

Give him a modern gene, only then will the audience buy it. Movie is all about psychology, if you do not understand psychology of the audience, no one will buy your work..