Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ben Hurry

that's his formal whip
My son calls this movie Ben Hurry.  I love the 1959 Charlton Heston version and it is an Easter weekend tradition for me to watch at least a little of it. I have ever since I was a small child.  Now I own a copy of it and can pop it in for a viewing whenever I might have a few hours with control of the television. But I rarely have control of the television or about three hours of time with nothing else requiring my attention, so Ben Hur is unwatched.  Except at Easter.
But enough about my schedule, let’s get back to Ben Hur and why I love it. It’s a really great dramatic story with all sorts of characters and themes and overt tie-ins to Christianity. There is slavery and betrayal and redemption.  The costuming and set decorations are simply wonderful (I think they are the reason I collect Fontanini nativity scene pieces). Plus a wonderful Roman naval battle and the epic chariot race sequence.  What more does a movie need?

They make a cute couple
Judah Ben Hur is complicated; a decent man who makes mistakes and comes out transformed by tragedy and the goodness of others. He’s the hero and rightly so.  But I have a sneaking admiration for the evil Messala.  First off, Stephen Boyd plays him perfectly; handsome, smart, and very clearly making a choice between being decent and being ambitious.  He’s wonderful to watch and whenever the two handsome leading men share scenes it’s hard not imagine some sexual sparks between them. Ah-hem. Messala has the best death scene.  I always fall for a great death scene.  My husband jokes that I only really like a movie when the hero dies.  Which isn’t very HEA. The story is still incredibly romantic and I sigh a lot when I watch it, even on what is surely the fifty-plus viewing.

blame Stephen Boyd for my slight addiction to be-toga'ed men
So, anyway.  Despite the floggings and leprosy and ships in flames with galley slaves still chained in the holds, Ben Hur is romantic to me.

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