Movie Review: Ben-Hur
Mon famille! Happy weekend, trust the weekend has been good. Of course you know it’s time for a pleasant and didactic review of a movie. Today, it’s the review of a movie that is every bit of the word epic and didactic, it’s the movie review of Ben-Hur.
Ben–Hur is an American epic historical movie originally produced in 1959 with an incredible remake in 2016 as the the fifth film adaptation of the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace.
Ben-Hur the movie reflected the reign of the Roman empire, an empire nourished by blood and secured by fear. Always leaving her people with a desire for revenge. The movie started with a flashback scene showing two young men who were happily horse-racing, one was Jewish Prince Judah Ben-Hur and the other was his adopted Roman brother Messala. The brothers were lovingly devoted to each other. During the horse race, Prince Judah had a scary accident that his family especially Messala feared that he will die, thankfully Judah survived and was restored.
Messala thought he had had enough of being taunted because of his biological lineage and wanted to create another history for himself which will include enviable achievement of himself. He decided to join the army of the new Roman Governor Pontius Pilate who just took residence in Jerusalem. While Judah married Esther, the family slave.
After 3 years, Messala returned to Jerusalem as a senior officer fighting in the Roman army. One could see the effects of war on him but the brothers were overtly delighted to be reunited. The unification’s scene of Messala with Judah’s family was a sweet one that attempted to make me cry and smile at the same time.
Messala sought for Judah’s mediation to help maintain zealot Jew’s peaceful stance with the Roman oppressive rule and Judah agreed. Unfortunately, an attempted assassination was made by one of the Jewish teenagers in Judah’s home. In retaliation, the Roman army stormed Judah’s household.
The scene was a pathetic one, watching how the irrational action of a clueless youth incurred death, pain and separation to the entire peaceful Judah’s household; the pain of horror in Judah’s face and how he admitted that he was the one who committed the crime and cried for Messala’s help which yielded nothing.
Judah Ben-Hur and Messala had fall out with each other. Judah’s sister and mother were sentenced to crucifixion while Judah’s wife escaped and Judah was led to the prison galley.
On his way to the galley, Ben-Hur encounters Jesus who fetches him some water. Judah was enslaved as a rower aboard a Roman prison galley under the command of Quintus Arius until he was involved in naval battle that he managed to escape and he was found by an African Sheikh.
Judah’s remarkable skills with in racing gained him favour with the Sheikh who had horses as he helped to excellently manage Sheikh’s horses. Judah and Sheikh travelled to Jerusalem and Judah located his wife who had become a devout follower of Jesus of Nazareth, the Carpenter. Judah got to know his Mother and Sister were dead, fuelled with revenge he made attempt to meet with Messala and possibly kill him.
‘Hate, anger and fear those are lies they use to make us go against each other. When you set aside the hate that’s when you realise that love is our true nature’. Those were Jesus words to the mob who were stoning a man. Coincidentally, Pontius Pilate and Messala witnessed this scene and Pontius Pilate told Messala that Jesus of Nazareth that gives the people hope, love and compassion is more dangerous than the Zealots who fights with sword against the Roman army.
Sheikh advised Judah on how he can justifiably execute his revenge plans on Messala by sporting in the circus. He trained Judah to be a chariot racer so he could sport in the circus. Sheikh wagered on him to join the Chariot race against Messala, ‘If Messala is the pride of Rome, take their pride, get in the circus. Give them a shame they will understand’
Esther who now involves in charity and actively giving to the needy, tried to dissuade Judah from embarking on vengeful mission against Messala because his first attempt of vengeance to Messala resulted to the death of 20 Jews but Judah didn’t heed. As a result, Esther and Judah had a fallout Judah successfully won the chariot race leaving Messala injured with one of his legs amputated.
It was at this time that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus to the Roman army and there was the reoccurrence of a similar scene that as Jesus was being led to the cross. Judah attempted to provide water to drink for Jesus just like Jesus did for him when he was led to the prison galley.
Judah’s encounter with Jesus at his time of crucifixion and death broke Judah and made him truly repent of his vengeance. Jesus’ death rained forgiveness to Judah’s heart for Messala and healed Judah’s sister and mother. Judah asked for Messala’s forgiveness and the miracles of forgiveness and unity flowed. The Judah Ben-Hur family reunited with forgiveness and understanding to give hope and promise for a better way, to fight the good fight, to finish the race, to keep the faith.
I leave you with Sheikh’s words to Judah ‘Don’t look back Judah, your whole life is ahead of you’. The movie ended joyfully watching Judah and Messala in a horse race again.
Ben-Hur the movie is an epic movie that I loved and cherished every minute of watching and reviewing the movie and gleaning lessons especially the lesson of forgiveness in the movie. Do enjoy the rest of your weekend. Je t’aime mon ami.