Monday, April 28, 2014

Re-inventing the (Chariot) Wheel

....Here they go again, trying to re-invent the wheel!

A re-make - I should say "another" re-make
- of Ben Hur is in the works, due for release in February 2016. What is wrong with these people? Re-making old movies can be a good thing, provided that existing versions are either outdated in some way, or were badly made or poorly cast to begin with. Re-hashing a movie of the stature of the 1959 version of Ben Hur has to be classed as sacrilege in my opinion, and foolhardy by any standard.

Reports indicate that this re-make, or "re-adaptation" will have a rather different focus, supposedly staying closer to Lew Wallace's original novel. The early days of Judah Ben Hur and Messala will be examined, their original youthful best-friendship and the way it disintegrated; while also telling, in more detail than the 1959 film, the story of Jesus Christ's ministry and his sentencing to death. That all sounds more like material for a TV mini-series.
(Photograph right: Wheel from a racing chariot used (below) in 1959's epic, Ben-Hur, on show at Planet Hollywood Cafe (from HERE).

Producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (known for involvement in Son of God and The Bible) are closely involved in Timur Bekmambetov's Ben-Hur re-make. Burnett will produce, Downey will executive produce. The couple are said to be devout Christians, so a more evangelical approach to Ben Hur this time around has to be expected, I guess.

I've always maintained that the 1959 movie was not "A tale of the Christ" as the subtitle of Lew Wallace's book promised, but an adventure story: The Adventures of Prince Judah Ben Hur, who accidentally bumped into Jesus a couple of times in the course of those adventures. That was the way I liked it, and what put it at the top of my favourite film list, where it has stayed since I first saw the movie in 1961. Whether the (metaphorical) wheel will come off the newest re-make's wagon is something we shall discover in time.

 Charlton Heston as Judah Ben Hur and Haya Harareet as Esther
As it's Music Monday, and as it's just a couple of days until my and Anyjazz's 10th wedding anniversary... 10 years ago Ben Hur's Love Theme played as we approached the Registrar, it's as good an excuse as any to listen again to
Miklos Rozsa' s wonderful music from the 1959 movie.


mike said...

Christian expression is the new patriotism...the nationalism of the post 9-11-2001 era has transmogrified and ebbed into the glory of Christianity...the cross vs the flag. Not that it was doing poorly prior, but the new "threats" to Christianity are strengthening the congregations. I've read a number of articles that claim Christian movies have performed (ie, made big bucks) in the mainstream theaters and Hollywood panders to the paying viewers, so expect an onslaught. Oddly, the patriotism years saw a huge increase in vampire and evil-doer films. Go figure.

Glad to see your post today...wasn't sure if the super-cell-tornadoes-with-baseball-hail were affecting you. Hotter than blazes here...103* yesterday, which broke the record for any day in April ever. It's a repeat today.

I assume the cooties have departed your household, scouting for new victims.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes, I've noticed there's an arising trend or fad for Christian-themed movies. The reasons you propose seem to fit! I just wish they'd go re-make some of the less worthy movies if they can't find anything new in the Bible. There were several such movies back in the 1950s I recall: Victor Mature as Samson; "The 10 Commandments", Paul Newman in "The Silver Chalice" (we were taken from school to see that one.. or was it "The Robe"?...I forget!) We must have come full circle in 2014!

We mercifully missed the worst of the tornado-laden storms here. A a fairly fast-movimng storm with a quick downpour was all we experienced. The line of storms must have picked up strength as it sped eastward.

103*? Wow! That's hot for April - we had one day last week with 88*, our hottest since last summer.

Cooties do seem to have left us both now, yes, thanks! Haven't quite picked up the level of enthusiasm needed to take off yet, maybe in a day or two we will.

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

I'm not the least interested in seeing any "died in the wool" republications biblical movies.

since this is their 3rd or 4th, I have to wonder if when doing the casting call they say NO GAYS allowed?
I mean they dont accept them in their personal life, so why should hundreds of gay extras help them make money off their movie. pfttt..
I never liked Roma Downey anyway, she always had such a snide, holier than thou look on her face and tone in her voice..
personally if all the repubs/christian coalition,, would go ahead an "ascend" as they love to discuss all the time about doing, on that wuuuuuuuuuuuuuunderul day when only the chosen are called upward, thats a day I could rejoice in too.. just for a different reason~!

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Agreed! LOL - and there were, if I remember correctly, whispers about gay relationships in two parts of the "Ben Hur" tale (posssibly not intended by Lew Wallace, but who knows?) One between the young Judah and Messala, the other when Judah was in Rome with Quintus Arius (Jack Hawkins) - I doubt both myself, but it's fun to imagine how the holier than thou crowd might get around that. Hmmm though, could be that I'm mixing movies - was it in "Spartacus" that I'm remembering something of the sort? - Tony Curtis in a scene with a bit of a gay fling with another young guy...Doesn't matter. :-)

I shall avoid all the new biblical flicks - starting with "Noah".

mike (again) said...


Re "Spartacus"

"The 1991 restoration includes several violent battle sequences that had been left out due to the negative reaction of preview audiences. It also has a bath scene in which the Roman patrician and general Crassus (Olivier) attempts to seduce his slave Antoninus (Curtis), speaking about the analogy of "eating oysters" and "eating snails" to express his opinion that sexual preference is a matter of taste rather than morality."

Re "Ben Hur"

"Vidal's claim about a homoerotic subtext is hotly debated. Vidal first made the claim in an interview in the 1995 documentary film The Celluloid Closet, and asserted that he persuaded Wyler to direct Stephen Boyd to play the role as if he were a spurned homosexual lover. Vidal said that he believed that Messala's vindictiveness could only be motivated by the feeling of rejection that a lover would feel, and claimed to have suggested to Wyler that Stephen Boyd should play the role that way, and that Heston be kept in the dark about the Messala character's motivations."

"Interviewed for the documentary "The Celluloid Closet", he [Gore Vidal] said he persuaded the director to liven up the relationship between Ben Hur and his Roman rival, Massala, with a scene where Massala, played by Stephen Boyd, casts longing glances at Heston as they sip wine.

The sub-text, driving the scene but which was never made explicit, was that the two characters had been teenage lovers and that Massala wanted to kiss and make up. That was explained to Boyd but kept secret from Heston, who would have 'fallen apart'."

mike (again) said...

Much like "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", movies are interpreted in the eyes of the viewers:

"'Frozen', the hit Disney animated musical about a girl who tries to save her kingdom and her ice-powered sister, has become the latest Hollywood movie to rile conservative commentators, with one pastor criticizing the film for indoctrinating homosexuality and bestiality in children."

Twilight said...

mike ~ Oh - good research there! Thanks. That has cleared it up. :-)
So it was really just a ploy to get some better acting out of Stephen Boyd - he was a much better looker than actor - but he did do fine in "Ben Hur", and looked the part exactly. Maybe in a future re-make, around 2035 or so, they'll do a version with Gore Vidal's idea openly included. :-)

(again) ~ "Frozen"? Really? Ye gods!! Those conservatives are paranoid ridiculous loonies!