Sunday, April 04, 2010

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

Ben Hur 1925
If you've never heard of Ben-Hur, get out of the rock you're hiding under. This review covers the 1925 silent version of this tale. The movie starred Ramon Novarro, Francis X. Bushman, May McAvoy, Betty Bronson and was directed by Fred Niblo.

The advanced nature of the cinematography for what you would normally expect in 1925 is phenomenal. There were forty-eight cameras used to film the epic sea battle, which was a record for number of cameras used for a single scene. 42 cameras were used in the chariot race. Few films today could pull that off, and none would have had thousands of extras, they'd mostly be CGI today. Almost all the religious scenes, specifically when Jesus is present during the film, were shot in two-strip Technicolor so you'll actually get some color in this film! Had the Academy Awards been around in 1925, this film would have surely been nominated across the board and would have likely won a slew of those awards.

William Wyler, one of the assistant directors filming the chariot race of this movie, went on to be the director of the 1959 version of Ben-Hur. This was the version that starred Charlton Heston as Ben-Hur.

Sure it's silent, sure it's mostly black and white, but does that make it less enjoyable? Not on your life.

**** and a half out of *****

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