“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
The golden days of Hollywood loved an epic. They loved a biblical sword and sandals epics the most. And when they wanted to make a biiiig movie in the 50s, they needed a biiiig an actor. An actor who knew no subtlety. An actor who’s most restrained moments would make the sets of this movie look like model miniatures. So when it was time to make this massive, epic tail, with its massive, epic budget, it was time to call in the massive, epic Charlton Heston. The result was a movie so epic and massive, it became the go to comparison for anything of ample size. It became Ben-Hur.
It’s the year 26A.D, and the Roman rule of Jerusalem is getting a little more handsy than it had been until then. Up and coming Roman kiss-ass Messala (Stephen Boyd) returns to the Jerusalem town where he grew up. Leaving as a boy, he returns as the man who will run the show, on behalf of the Emperor. There’s a happy reunion with his childhood friend, the Jewish prince, Judah Ben-Hur. The happy reunion doesn’t last long. Messala’s ruthless ambition leads to Ben-Hur sent off into slavery for a crime he didn’t commit, while his mother and sister are sent to prison. Swearing revenge, we cut to Ben-Hur several years later, chained to the oar of a Roman ship. (more…)