There are many problems with Timur Bekmambetov’s remake of Ben-Hur, but one of the more emblematic ones, I think, is the way he insists on adding dialogue to the chariot race. Bekmambetov can’t rely on the thrill of movement alone: instead, he has to pump the soundtrack full of exposition and dull action-movie banter.
In theory, there is no reason why anyone shouldn’t make a new version of Ben-Hur. Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel has been dramatized several times already, and the most famous film of them all — the 1959 adaptation with Charlton Heston — deviated from the book in ways that arguably made it a less-than-definitive adaptation of the source material. (Among other things, the Heston film is less overt about its Christianity than the silent 1925 version.) So I was prepared to give the new movie a chance.
Last week, the studio behind the upcoming remake of Ben-Hur released five clips from the film, all of which touched on the movie’s religious themes. Today we get our first “mainstream” clip from the film, in which Judah Ben-Hur and his nemesis Messala have one last exchange before the iconic chariot race begins — but you can still get a hint of the movie’s themes thanks to a speech by one Pontius Pilate.
The first five clips from the new version of Ben-Hur are now available via WingClips, a website that provides movie clips that pastors can use to illustrate their sermons etc. As you might expect, these clips focus on the religious themes of the film, rather than the action-packed spectacle that the trailers have tended to emphasize.