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Oscars Challenge #84: Ben-Hur (1959) Movie Review

Can you imagine a movie that is already a blockbuster hit even though it hasn't premiered yet?

Ben-Hur has been known to be a widespread success even though the film is still under production. People flocked to the gigantic set it made and treated it like a tourist spot. Like Around the World in 80 Days, the film also used a ton of extras and costumes to recreate the gladiator-like feeling that no one can imagine.

Plot Overview

The movie begins with the dramatization of the birth of Jesus Christ in Nazareth while shepherds and several Magi visit him in a cave.

In 26 A.D., a wealthy Jewish prince, Judah Ben-Hur, lives with his mother, Miriam, and his sister Tirzah. He falls in love with Esther, the family servant's daughter. A few years later, Ben-Hur's friend Messala arrives with the news about Roman's actions to grow its empire. Ben-Hur remains faithful to his beliefs and Jewish freedom and disobeys his friend.

Even though it was an accident, Messala accuses Judah of killing the Judea governor. He was arrested and taken away from his family. The prince vows to take revenge against Messala. As he and the other prisoners are transported to Nazareth, he stumbles upon Jesus, who gives him a cup of water to quench his thirst.

His self-discipline and determination mark his time in prison. He was freed when their fleet was attacked by Macedonian pirates and rescued Arrius, their leader. He petitions Emperor Tiberius to adopt Ben-Hur. Slowly, the once-fallen prince becomes a champion charioteer.


There is no doubt the massiveness of this movie is a scale beyond anyone can imagine. This film was popularized with its almost realistic chariot fight scene, which makes it astounding.

Its storyline's scale and weight might be why it has the most wins out of all Best Picture winners. Its 11 wins are tied with Titanic and The Lord of the Ring: The Return of the King.

Even though Ben-Hur is a pretty long film that spans about three and a half hours, I feel like it went like a breeze. The packed storyline that ties itself with the bible mixed with drama, action, and the beautiful soundtrack makes it enjoyable.

I am not surprised that this film received widespread recognition from the audience, mainly since it features many vital scenes and human drama that may be relatable to some.

Overall, Ben-Hur may not be at the top of my list, but I ultimately respect it for making a mark in the film industry. A movie that is genuinely honored by many that contains one of the best chariot scenes.

A good 4 out of 5 stars.

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