BITT: Hollywood resurrects Ben-Hur almost 60 years later

Oh Hollywood. Why do you do these things?

For today’s Back in Times Thursday (BITT) we have another case of remake-itis we are getting a new Ben-Hur movie this August despite no one asking for or desiring it.

The film stars Jack Huston (HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and 2013’s American Hustle), a dreadlock wearing Morgan Freeman – we all have bills to pay – and is helmed by Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) so at least we can expect some good action sequences. I checked out both trailers (the first is below) and it looks like any generic swords and sandals period drama that just happens to have the title Ben-Hur attached to it.

The story is from the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ and tells the tale of fictional Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur who is enslaved by the Romans, becomes a charioteer and later a Christian after viewing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Row, row, row your boat...
Row, row, row your boat…

It was adapted into a silent film in 1925 and again in 1959 with Charlton Heston as the titular character. The 1959 film, directed by William Wyler, had the largest budget and sets of any film of that time, was at the time the second highest grossing film of all time after Gone with the Wind, won a record 11 Academy Awards included Best Picture, Actor and Director, and is regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time.

If you have not seen the film then half of your life has been missed. The acting is grand, the costuming is excellent, the drama is epic and the chariot battle scene is one of the greatest action sequences ever put to film, and this was long before the days of computer effects and CGI.

I'm getting excited just looking at the picture. Hiyah!
I’m getting excited just looking at the picture. Hiyah!

So of course this iconic movie is ripe for a remake? No, no it is not. Most fans of the original film would view the remake as sacrilege and the younger audience, which it seems to be aiming for, would have zero brand recognition. The second trailer (see below) plays up the Jesus Christ angle so the producers may be hoping to draw in the Christian demographic but that plan is hit or miss.

Now I was more positive about the upcoming Magnificent Seven remake, see my post here, but there are some movies that should just be left alone and Ben-Hur is very high on that list. Hollywood, darling, it is time for a remake intervention.

So how do you feel about the Ben-Hur remake? What did you think of the trailer. Feel free to comment below.

And for more historically dramatic movie posts you can follow me on Twitter @suprememango012 or subscribe via e-mail. Julien is outie like a navel. l8rs


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