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On August 19, Paramount/MGM will release the new, highly-anticipated motion picture, “Ben-Hur”. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov and produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the latest film-adaptation brings a fresh approach to the classic story. With all the advances in film-making, it creates a spectacle even more thrilling for audiences today.

The film tells the story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jake Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother and friend Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer of the Roman army. Ben-Hur’s story takes a turn for the worse after he experiences a series of setbacks, including being stripped of his title and being separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi). Ben-Hur is ultimately forced into slavery and despair. But after years at sea, his story takes a breathtaking turn after a series of encounters with Jesus of Nazareth (Rodrigo Santoro) transforms not only his outlook, but also his faith, leading him to discover grace, mercy and redemption.
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If you’re wondering how the movie stacks up against the 1959 MGM film-adaptation starring, Charlton Heston, it does not disappoint. Yes, attempting to remake such a classic film, especially one that defined the term epic during the golden ages of Hollywood is a herculean task but Paramount/MGM has done just that with this film. The new release is a fresh imagining of Lew Wallace’s timeless novel, “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ” and the 1959 MGM classic, following in the footsteps of its previous incarnations, but also creative in its own right. It’s bursting with action and a number of new twists and turns – including a new portrayal of Ilderim, played by the talented Morgan Freeman, a clearer perspective of Jesus and a chariot race for the ages. You can expect epic from director Timur Bekmambetov, who is known for sensational action and spectacle in his films. I couldn’t stop holding my breath until the final chariot race scene entire scene was over.

But the chariot scene is not the only part of the movie that left a lasting impression. The personal conflict between Ben-Hur and Messala, former friends, is just as memorable as the climactic chariot race. The scenes that feature Jesus Christ, who crosses paths with Ben-Hur at several crucial points in the story, are also extremely moving. In the beginning of the film, we see Jesus depicted as a simple carpenter with a radical message of love – a message that gains Him many followers, including Esther, the woman Ben-Hur loves, but also a lot of enemies. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Pontius Pilate and Messala are riding through Jerusalem and encounter Jesus protecting a leper from stoning by the crowd. Jesus says to the crowd, “Hate, anger, fear, those are lies they say to turn you against each other.” In protecting the leper, Jesus Himself is injured by stone-throwers but the effect of His words on the mob is long lasting. Pilate warns Messala that Jesus offers the people “something more,” that by calming the crowd through compassion, He is more dangerous than all the zealots combined. The emotional themes throughout the film including radical love, forgiveness and healing are especially relatable today in a climate of such brokenness in our own world.

Stacked with unforgettable performances, powerful themes and a rich film experience, “Ben-Hur” is an epic and thrilling adventure for the ages. You don’t want to miss it!

Brother against brother. Slave Against Empire. Learn more about Ben-Hur today.

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