I recently watched this film and I have to say that I was quite impressed. I hadn’t seen the original Ben-Hur film released in 1959 so I had a “fresh eyes” approach to it and I quite enjoyed it. I love how Ben-Hur and Jesus of Nazareth were both contemporary in age and how they crossed paths a few times throughout the film. How Jesus’ example very much impacted Judah Ben-Hur’s life each time he would see or interact with him. Of course, this interaction between Ben-Hur and Jesus probably did not happen in real life but I love how in this movie it did.
Ben-Hur is about Judah Ben-Hur, a prince who is wrongly accused of betrayal by a Roman officer, who also was his adopted brother and how years later comes back home seeking vengeance but what he discovers is freedom.
In the first scene of the movie we meet Judah Ben-Hur and his adoptive brother Messala, both are very close despite their different origins, Judah was Jewish and Messala was Roman. We see that they are racing each other but when Messala gets gravely hurt, Judah carries him all the way home. We quickly notice that Messala doesn’t feel part of the family even though they’ve treated him like a son so, in search of being with his own people, he enlists in the Roman army and fights with them in Germany. Back home Ben-Hur has feelings for Esther, the family’s slave, even though they’re from different levels in society. But when Esther is being married off to a Roman, Ben-Hur comes to terms with his feelings, declares his love for her and they marry.
A few years later Messala returns to Jerusalem as a Roman leader right when the Zealots, opposers to Roman rule, are rising in numbers. Judah at one point treats and gives shelter to a Zealot called Dismas even though it could bring much danger to him and his family. Later Messala joins the Ben-Hur family for dinner and informs them that the new Roman governor Pontius Pilate will now be in Jerusalem and he doesn’t want any incidents during the governor’s visit. A few days later Pontius Pilate alongside Messala enter through Jerusalem and march closeby the Ben-Hur residence where Judah and his family were watching from the balcony. But suddenly Dismas appears from high up with a bow and shoots an arrow towards Pilate. The Romans know it came from the Ben-Hur residence so they storm inside and arrest Judah and his family. Ben-Hur assumes the responsibility for the attempt of assassinating Pilate and is sentenced to go aboard a galley ship and his mother and sister are sentenced to be crucified. On his way to the galley, Ben-Hur encounters Jesus as the teacher himself offers water for him to drink.
Ben-Hur is aboard the Roman galley for five years. In a battle with the Greeks in the Ionian Sea, the ship where Ben-Hur is in is destroyed and he does everything he can to survive. He manages to hang onto a mast and after being stuck at sea finds land and swims ashore. In land, he is found by Ilderim who knows he is a galley slave who managed to escape. Ilderim is set to take Judah back to the Romans but he convinces the man to let him stay and he would treat one of his racing horses who happened to be ill.
Ben-Hur still wants vengeance for all the horrible things Messala did to him but Ilderim convinces him to leave a message to him and the Romans, to hurt their pride. So he enlists Judah in a chariot race that will be held by Pilate in the new Roman circus. Ilderim puts all bets on his racer and makes a deal with Pilate that if his racer wins, all his faults would be eliminated. As Pilate agrees, Ilderim then trains Judah in how to be a chariot racer and gives him techniques to help him win. Apart from this, Judah is desperate to find his family and although he was told they were dead, he discovers that they actually live but his mother and sister are suffering from leprosy.
What will happen to Judah Ben-Hur in the race? Will he win? Will he encounter Jesus again? You have to watch this amazing film to find out. It’s full of adventure and great themes as well. You can find Ben-Hur in the online Fishflix store here!
Here are other movies inspired by biblical times that I quite enjoy: