Sunday, June 12, 2011

#339: Ben-Hur

Directed by: WILLIAM WYLER
1959, TSDPT Rank #359

This tepid, stilted blunder of a film is probably in my bottom five for those of the 1,000 Greatest Films that I've seen so far. It's highly overrated, pointless, stupid, and a poor excuse for epic drama. Furthermore, I'm of the opinion that its revered position in film history comes from the famous chariot race scene. Yes, this scene is very good, the best in the film. But the film is 3 1/2 hours long; what comes before the chariot race is bad, and what follows it is even worse. Besides having terrible acting and pacing, the plot is inexcusably ridiculous. It masquerades as "A Tale of the Christ", and tries to be, but is definitely no such thing. After a misplaced and unnecessary filler of a nativity prologue, Jesus appears two or three times in the film, is clumsily referred to a few times, and his death is presented as a horrible anticlimax, after which all of the characters are inexplicably and suddenly redeemed. The film doesn't have any idea what it is, or should be, instead unsatisfactorily detailing the exploits of a wronged Jewish prince (Charlton Heston), whose character is never anything other than a thundering but unconvincing soggy cardboard cutout (that Heston won an award for his acting is an outrage). This awful film has some big cinematography and one good scene, which has earned it its awards and reputation, but save your time - don't believe the hype.

(Rating: 2/10)

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