Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Take a well-loved epic movie, with a cast of thousands, even a remake that eclipsed the original in standing, and then remake it again on a fraction of the budget for TV.

It's a complete mystery where these notions come from. How can anyone have thought that success in this endeavour might be achievable? This oft-shown story of a Jewish Roman galley-slave's journey through revenge doesn't even need updating, since the 1959 movie with Charlton Heston hasn't dated at all. After all, it is set 2,000 years ago, you can hardly go replacing all the scrolls with mobile phones.

And yet, a couple of years ago, Canadian TV had a (cough) stab at it anyway.

And you know what? I've never read the book, but I reckon they've done a pretty good job of such an impossible task. Despite the few times that Judah Ben-Hur meets his nemesis Octavius Messala after their rift, that central relationship smoulders, and the way that Judah's bitterness toward his enemy takes him over is realised here, in my opinion, better than in any other version that I can recall. (admittedly I saw the others a few years ago now)

When it comes to the famous chariot race, the adaptors have wisely gone for something of a cross-country course, requiring very few extras at any given point on the circuit. It's more reminiscent of the podrace in The Phantom Menace. When Judah eventually wins in this version, it's in quite an unexpected way, and the look on his face says that even he was trying to pull-up his horses at that moment.

In a subplot, there's another bloke who people are calling the King of the Jews who seems mostly irrelevant to proceedings, although when Judah helps him up with his cross near the end, it's unknown why he doesn't try to help him any further than that.

All in all, an okay telling of the story, but as I say, still a mystery why they didn't just repeat the talkie again, or make something fresh. :)

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1 comment(s):

At 1:54 pm, Blogger Maurice Mitchell said...

Yeesh, I can't imagine why anyone would remake that classic of cinema.


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