DISTANCE TO GREATNESS: "BEN-HUR" 2016 VS. "BEN-HUR" 1959 Continue Reading

By Gerardo Valero With more than a little hesitation I recently attended the latest version of “Ben-Hur," directed by Timur Bekmambetov. Its 1959 predecessor, directed by William Wyler, was not precisely a bona fide masterpiece but I’ve always had a soft spot for it. As a kid I grew up believing that the religious-themed mega productions from the 1950s represented Hollywood at its most spectacular.

Their epic lengths and musical overtures/intermissions only added to this idea (I also used to be convinced that their content was surely 100% faithful to history!). Wyler’s version of “Ben-Hur” was (and still is) head and shoulders above all other entries in this category. It didn’t suffer from “Samson and Delilah’s” (1949) cheesiness (think of the phony lion fight and falling temple) nor was it quite as overblown as Charlton Heston’s own “The Ten Commandments” (1956).

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