Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Charlton Heston, Lew Wallace & "Ben Hur"

Charlton Heston died at the weekend. He was born 4 October 1923 (some sources say 1924). I'll not guess which is correct. I've recently read a few less than kind comments about this man. In real life he held some opinions which are opposite to my own, but this really is no time to throw stones. His name, back in the news, brought my favourite movie to mind.

"Ben Hur" originated as a novel by Lew Wallace, a military man born 10 April 1827 in Brookville Indiana. The novel has been adapted as a movie on several occasions, best known of these is the award winning 1959 version starring Charlton Heston. It seems appropriate to me that the tale's author was a Sun Aries. The epic movie's story is very Aries in flavour. It chronicles the adventures, trials and tribulations of Judah Ben Hur a prince of Judea at the time of Roman occupation and Jesus Christ's ministry. The movie concentrates more on the adventures of its hero than on the more religious aspects of the book, but it still tells how Ben Hur's life is mystically touched by that of his contemporary, Jesus.

There is Aries courage and resilience in the character of Judah Ben Hur. There's also a great driving hunger to revenge the wrong done to his family - a heaped spoonful of Scorpio! There's a love story too, secondary to all else. Yet though romance is missing in much of the film, the audience is always aware of an underlying longing, and rightly suspects there may be a happy ending. The love theme appealed to me a lot, so much so that when himself and I tied the knot, the Love Theme from Ben Hur was one of the two pieces of music played at our civil ceremony.

Charlton Heston's towering persona dominates the movie. I can think of no other actor who had persona huge enough to take on that character and carry the plot almost single-handed. It wasn't a case of his acting skills, which were not nearly as huge as the image he was able to portray, nor as well-honed as some of the character actors in the cast. We can't be sure of his birth year, so it's not useful to surmise, but I can't help wondering if Jupiter and/or Pluto are somehow prominent in his chart, perhaps near the ascendant, producing a larger than life, very powerful image, not only as Judah Ben Hur, but in starring roles in other epic movies.

RIP Charlton Heston, and thanks for "Ben Hur".


anthonynorth said...

I pretty much share your thoughts here. Didn't think much of his politics, but he was a great actor.

Twilight said...

Hello AN!

Yes, and even more than acting, that magnificent screen presence was his greatest attribute, I think. It's something you can't learn, a natural gift. :-)

R J Adams said...

I guess you already know my opinion from Sparrow Chat. I didn't rate him as an actor, or as man. Anyone who goes to such lengths to oppose gun control isn't much of a man, in my book. To me, he really showed his colors when he switched both his party allegiance and all his views, from the Democrats to the Republicans, after he'd become successful and made loads of money.

My wife agrees with you on his acting ability, though. ;-)

Twilight said...

I don't disagree with your views, especially with regard to gun control, RJ. I just think that it's more appropriate to look for the good in a man who has just shuffled off this mortal coil - there is some in all of us. ;-)