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Ben-Hur was the first film to win 11 Academy Awards, a feat now matched by Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.


Ben-Hur is certainly the epic it purports to be, though it certainly feels like style has been prioritised over substance in this instance. There are a few standout moments. The famous chariot race, for example, is exciting and a clear visual delight. The film also reaches some emotional heights, particularly in the poignant moment when Ben-Hur offers Jesus a cup of water as he carries his cross through the streets of Jerusalem. However, characters are left woefully underdeveloped, and everything moves at far to brisk a pace to allow for any real tension or interest to be created. Ben-Hur‘s basic premise isn’t a bad one, but its screenplay and execution let it down.

Rating: 4/10


Ben-Hur is simply an awful film. A bad script really doesn’t help the plodding storyline. Three cardinal script sins are committed on a regular basis:

1. Saying the characters name repeatedly to fill time (see Titanic review for further information);

2. Using awkward conversations between characters to set the scene rather than allowing the viewer to work it out or finding a more imaginative way to give the viewer the information (an early cringe-worthy example being Soldier A: ‘What village is this?’ Soldier B: ‘Nazareth’); and

3. Characters repeatedly speaking like complete imbeciles, akin to an acting class at RADA.

Ben-Hur is a victory of style over substance. Lots of attention has been paid to making it look and feel big and impressive; it is epic for epic-nesses sake, yet they forgot to write a good film along the way. It gets a point for the chariot race (which was impressive) and for having a map in the opening credits. The rest of this film should be erased from human history.

Rating: 2/10

Combined rating: 3/10

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