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Location: Prague, Bohemia
Member Since: Tue Apr 06, 2010
Posts: 1,551
Subj: Peplum review 25: Ben-Hur (1959)
Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2020 at 05:54:04 am EDT (Viewed 88 times)

After many years, it was time to rewatch one of Peplum's shinning lights. It fits under my admittedly broad definition of peplums, although it is Hollywood produced. Hercules (1958) is really the grandfatherly inspiration for the peplum's that followed, but Ben Hur had a huge noticable influence, particularly on the religious peplums.

I watched it as a teenager and of course, the most memorable scene is the action paced chariot race. it holds up really well, better than any cgi nonsense shot today, with real tension and high stakes. I love the accuracy with the golden dolphins used as lap markers. Unfortunately, in Rome, nothing is really left of the Circus Maximus except the bowl shape, but it is huge. When I lived in Rome, I used to go jogging there (biggest surprise to me is remembering that I used to jog)

The cruxifiction scenes are just as if not more cheesy than I remember. I kind of forgot that the chariot race wasnt the climax of the film.

There are some homosexual undertones of Massala's character which I hadn't noticed, but his character is written well enough that it could be open to interpretation. Any of that probably went over Charlton Heston's head.

Overall, it holds up well (but nowhere near as in depth as Spartacus). I read that they did a remake a few years ago (I know this was a remake of the silent 1925 version) but that seems almost sacriligious (pun freely intended) because theres no way to improve on the 1959 chariot race, one of the finest action scenes on film. A true epic.

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