Ben-Hur has found its Esther and its Pontius Pilate

pascal-gadotTimur Bekmambetov’s upcoming remake of Ben-Hur may be different from the 1959 version in a number of ways, but in one way it will be remarkably similar: it will feature an Israeli beauty-contest winner as Esther, the Jewish slave girl that Judah Ben-Hur falls in love with.

In 1959, the part was played by Haya Harareet, who won one of the first beauty contests in Israel after that nation came into being in 1948; and now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the part will be played by former Miss Israel Gal Gadot.

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Bible movie of the week: Sins of Jezebel (1953)

On at least two occasions this year, I have grumbled about the relative lack of movies about the prophet Elijah.

He’s a very important figure in the Bible: not only is he one of two Old Testament figures who went straight to heaven without dying (the other is Noah’s great-grandfather Enoch), he is also one of only two Old Testament figures who appear with Jesus at the Transfiguration (the other is Moses). The Old Testament prophet Malachi predicted that Elijah would return before the great day of judgment, and Christians believe this prophecy was fulfilled by John the Baptist, while Jews set a cup of wine aside at the Passover table in anticipation of Elijah’s return.

But has Elijah received the same sort of cinematic attention as Moses and Jesus? Have there been any epic blockbusters about his confrontations with the prophets of Baal and their royal patrons, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel? Alas, no.

But that’s not to say there haven’t been any films about Elijah. There are, in fact, a variety of short films and other shows that have covered these subjects, and yesterday I finally got around to watching the one feature-length film version of his story that was produced during the 1950s, when the Bible-movie genre was at its peak.
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