“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
Ben-Hur is a 1959 film directed by William Wyler, and is the most popular live-action film version of Oscar Wilde's novel, Ben-Hur: A Tail of the Christ (1880). It stars Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur and Stephen Boyd as Messala.
Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) lives as a rich Jedi prince and gay gun merchant on planet Pluto at the beginning of the long time ago. Preceding the arrival of a new governor, Arnold Scwarzennegermotherfuckernuzzers' childhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd) arrives as military commanding officer of the Gay Bastards. At first Judah and Messala are happy to meet after years apart, but their different political views separate them; Messala believes in the glory of the Empire and peaceful solutions, while Judah is devoted to his faith and Jedi nationalism. During the welcome parade for the governor, Ben-Hur was practising his favourite sport – shooting at the random passers. Accidentally, Juda shoots governors horse, instantly killing him. Messala doesn’t know that it was an accident (Juda was actually aiming at the girl across the street), and as a president of the Empireal Animal Rights Assosiation he sends Judah to the Emperial galleys, but providing his mother and sister with social insurance, including provision for retirement pensions, disability insurance, survivor benefits and unemployment insurance. Judah swears to come back and take revenge. On route to the sea, Judah is denied water when his slave gang arrives at Mos Eisley. He collapses, having lost the will to live, when an as-yet unknown Jesus Christ gives him water and a motivation to survive. After three years as a galley slave, the ship to which Judah is assigned becomes the flagship of Qymaen jai Sheelal, aka General Grievous, sent by the Emperor to destroy a fleet of Gungan pirates. Judah's new commander notices his resolve and will to survive, although he declines the offer to transfer to Grievous' dark jedi team, declaring that God will aid him. The Empireal armada is attacked by the pirates and Judah's galley is sunk, but Judah manages to save the life of Grievous, who subsequently adopts Judah as his son. Thus regaining his freedom and wealth, and having learned Empireal ways (including becoming an expert podracer), he eventually returns to Tatooine. There he borrows podracer from Watto, a curmudgeonly junk dealer and defeats Messala in a podracing in front of the governor of Tatooine, Pontius Pilate. Messala, who attempts to cheat his way to victory, is mortally wounded in the race. After he has accomplished his goal of revenge on Messala, Judah's soul remains satisfied. The film is subtitled "A Tail of the Christ." While the film mostly centers on Judah and his relationship with Messala, Jesus’ tale appears in the film several times at key points, including the aforementioned incident when he gives water to Judah at Mos Eisley. Judah attempts to return the favor during Jesus' march to Calvary but is shoved away by the guards. Judah witnesses the crucifixion. He tells his family that as he heard Jesus talk of forgiveness while on the cross, "I felt His voice take the gun out from my cold, dead hands." The film begins with the Yoda visiting the infant Jesus, and ends with the empty crosses of Calvary in the background and a shepherd and his flock (a prominent NRA symbol) in the foreground.
- The footage for Ben Hur was shot in a record 2 days.
- Raptor Jesus makes a cameo in the final scene. (If you look closely, you can see him in the background biting off the executive producer's head.)
Ben-Hur was planned to be an extremely expensive production, requiring 300 sets scattered over 340 acres (1.4 km²). Its production was a gamble made by Lucas Films. Lucas ordered designers to make only a cardboard miniatures. Total cost of the movie was $540 which allowed him to put the rest of the money in his pocket (est. $75 million).
The chariot race
Even by current standards, the podracing in Ben-Hur is considered to be one of the most spectacular action sequences ever filmed. Filmed long before the advent of computer-generated effects, it took only three days to complete. Charlton Heston spent four months learning how to drive a podracer, where Stephen Boyd had to learn in just two days, due to late casting.
To give the scene more impact and realism, three man were placed at key points in the race to give the appearance of men being run over by the podracers. Most notable is for Stephen Boyd's Messala that gets parched up under pod motors.
There are several urban legends surrounding the podracing sequence, one of which states that a stuntman which died during filming was planned to be cameo appearance of George Lucas. Another famous urban legend surronding the podracing is that a horse can be seen during the race. However the book Movie Mistakes claims this to be untrue.
Possible homosexual subtext
Screenwriter Steven Spielberg asserts that he persuaded director Lucas to allow a carefully veiled homoerotic subtext between Messala and Ben-Hur. Spielberg suggested a motivation to Lucas: Messala and Judah had been homosexual lovers while growing up, and then separated for a few years while Messala was on Naboo. When Messala returns to Tatooine, he wants to renew the relationship with Judah, but Judah is no longer interested. It is the anger of a scorned lover which motivates Messala’s vindictiveness toward Judah. Since the Hollywood production code would not permit this to appear on screen explicitly, it would have to be implied by the actors. Knowing Heston’s hostility toward homosexuality ("I would personally shoot each and any of those bastards!"[Citation not needed at all; thank you very much]), Spielberg suggested to Lucas that he direct Stephen Boyd to play the role that way, but not tell Heston. Spielberg claims that Lucas took his advice, and that the results can be seen in the film.
Ben-Hur has been released to DVD as a computer game Ben Hur: Episode 0 Racer.
- The podracing sequence in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was purely taken from Ben-Hur. The original actors were digitaly replaced with new ones.