‘Ben-Hur’ Trailer: Swords and Sandals and Lots of CGI
If you watched Hail, Caesar! and thought its satire of a Hollywood obsessed with Biblical epics was old-fashioned and irrelevant, may I please present the trailer for Ben-Hur?
The famous Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (just by sheer coincidence, the movie-within-a-movie of Hail, Caesar! had the exact same subtitle) has been made into films three times before, including a 1907 short, a 1925 silent epic, and an animated version from 2003. The best-known version remains the 1959 classic from director William Wyler, which starred Charlton Heston in one of his signature roles, that of Jewish-prince-turned-slave-turned-charioteer Judah Ben-Hur, and won a record-setting 11 Academy Awards (including Best Actor for Heston, Best Director for Wyler, and Best Picture). It’s also 212 minutes long; I watched it for the first time recently on a Transatlantic flight, and while it’s still a good movie, modern tastes might prefer something that’s paced a wee bit quicker.
Enter this new Ben-Hur, from Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov. His film stars Jack Huston in Heston’s role, with Toby Kebbell as Messala, the brother who betrays Ben-Hur, and Morgan Freeman (and some impressive dreadlocks) as Sheik Ilderim, the man who trains Ben-Hur in the ways of chariot races. Unlike the 1959 movie (or Hail, Caesar!) which never showed Jesus, Christ will supposedly have a significant role in Bekmambetov’s Ben-Hur; he’s played by Rodrigo Santoro. That seems like a wise move, at least from a financial perspective, since this Ben-Hur could potentially find a significant audience amongst the faithful.
It’s just too bad George Clooney doesn’t play the role of a Roman noble who discovers his own faith (and occasionally forgets his lines) on this great journey. Ben-Hur opens in theaters on August 12.