ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Ben-Hur (1959)

Updated on September 27, 2016
Stevennix2001 profile image

Steven Escareno is an amateur film critic who writes about movies in his spare time.

Stevennix2001's Rating:

9.9 / 10


  • Charleton Heston gives a command performance as Judah Ben-Hur, which gives off a larger than life feel that captures both the strength and vulnerability of the character.
  • Cinematography work was excellent. Very well shot. I especially loved the camera work that was utilized in the chariot race scene.
  • Direction was great
  • Well developed characters, and nicely written script.
  • The pacing for this film was amazing, as it flows at a great pace.
  • Musical scoring was excellent.
  • Unlike the original, the focus was kept purely on Judah Ben-Hur this time, so it never felt like he was ever pushed aside whenever the Jesus Christ portions of the story popped up.
  • The choreography during the chariot race was outstanding, and still holds up well.


  • The romance involving Judah's character felt a bit rushed.

"Ben-Hur" is arguably becoming one of cinemas greatest underrated classics, as time moves on.

Everything that the 1926 silent film version of "Ben-Hur" tried to be back in it's heyday, the 1959 version pulls off in spades. "Ben-Hur" is based on a novel called "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ", which features the story of a young Palestinian Jew by the name of Judah Ben-Hur (played this time by Charleton Heston). In this story, Judah is falsely accused of a crime he did not commit, and sentenced to slavery aboard a Roman ship by his childhood friend, Messala, who happens to be a high ranking official of the Roman empire.

Although Messala knows of Judah's innocence, he condemns him anyway to make an example out of him, which causes Judah to vow revenge. After serving three years aboard a Roman war ship, he inevitably escapes after it sinks in battle, and manages to save the captain of the ship along the way. Although the captain yearns for death because of his failure, Judah won't allow him to kill himself. Needless to say. Judah's kindness, and determination to be with his family again, impresses him so much that he ends up adopting Judah as his surrogate son.

Like the silent film version of this story, Judah also goes on to become a famous chariot racing champion across Rome. However, Judah yearns to leave his new lifestyle of privilege to find his family again. Although his new father does advise him to wait until the political structure changes in their favor, when Messala is replaced by a friend of theirs, Judah fears that it'll be too late by that point; hence he renounces his new Roman birthright to go back to find his mother and sister.

Of course, he meets his former servant, and daughter, whom he had something of a crush on, during his earlier years. The two get married, as he works to seek revenge against Messala in the grand chariot race.

And like the last movie, a huge bet is wagered that makes this contest an epic battle to the death both figuratively and literally, while having Judah's story coincide with Jesus Christ's story from his birth all the way up to his crucifixion.

If you've seen the original silent film of this story, then you should already know how this entire movie plays out, as it still follows the same story structure. However, the key difference here is that it's executed a lot better.

For starters. Unlike the 1926 silent film version, the story remembered to keep the focus on Judah. Even when the Jesus parts of the movie were brought up, it was still ultimately Judah Ben-Hur's story. The plot only moved along whenever he did, and it was told primarily from his point of view. When Jesus gets crucified on the cross, it was told from Judah's perspective the whole time, so it never felt like the story pushed him aside as a minor character whenever those parts showed up, which is exactly what the 1926 silent version did.

Another key difference here is the fact that a lot of corny moments were either toned down, or they were taken out of the film completely. Judah didn't form some massive army, to serve Jesus like it was in the 1926 movie. No, they had the crucifixion happen so fast, in context of when it took place within the story, that Judah really didn't have time form anything to try to help Jesus, which makes the scene a bit more realistic. And of course, there's no message from god speaking from the skies this time, as the religious aspects to this film were a bit more subtle this time; hence making it seem less corny and pretentious.

As for Charleton Heston himself, I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with his performance. Not only did he embody both the confidence and spirit of Judah, but I also loved how he was able to capture his vulnerability as well. For instance, when Judah found out his sister and mother were stricken with leprosy, it was heartbreaking, and Heston's performance conveyed the deep tragedy his character was going through knowing he was unable to help the ones that he loved, which makes his character all the more sympathetic.

Like most of his earlier work, his performance had something of a larger than life feel to it that sticks with you, after you see it. Sure, "Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ" had it's moments, but I felt like this film rounded out Judah more as a character.

One thing that did surprise me about this film was it's pacing. Unlike the original movie that felt bogged down because of too many pointless scenes, this one seems pretty straight forward. Because it does a better job meshing the story of Jesus with Judah Ben-Hur's adventure more cohesively, the film flows at a more decent pace; hence making what's actually a three and a half hour movie seem more like it was only ninety minutes long, without ever feeling rushed.

This was a huge improvement that the 1959 remake accomplished that makes the story a bit more easier to digest.

While I would hesitate to call this Charleton Heston's best movie, I will say that it features arguably one of his better performances. And even if you're not a religious person, the 1959 story of "Ben-Hur" still offers a surprisingly deep and engaging story about redemption and hope, in a cruel and unjust world. While this film may be getting lost in the sands of time, it's definitely worth checking out.

© 2016 Stevennix2001


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)