(I am dun hand in)
Director Timur Bekmambetov
Date release 18 August 2016
About the Story
The movie tells the tale of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince from Jerusalem who is enslaved by the Romans after being betrayed by his adoptive brother Messala, a Roman officer. (Jesus Christ also factors into the movie).
This story is mostly about the two brothers. One brother, Ben-Hur is born the natural son of a privileged Jewish family and is a prince. The other, Messala, is his adopted Roman brother, who was found by their father a year before the father died and adopted into the family. It was the father’s hope that the friendship between the boys would be a good example to others.
However, the times this story takes place are harsh times. “In the time of the messiah the Roman empire grows to span 1000’s of miles. It is an empire that is nourished by blood and secured by fear. They will take everything you have. They will invite you to their games to watch others suffer and forget what you lost. They will leave you with bitterness and desire for revenge” This is narrated to us at the beginning of the story.
The Brothers are close and very competitive, “As young men the brothers were as devoted to each other as they were competitive”. One day the brothers go racing on their horses and Ben-Hur gets badly hurt when his horse falls. The boy’s family blames Messala and they start to alienate him from their Jewish way of life. This is mostly because he is a Roman and not many people liked or trusted the Romans at this time. Ben-Hur maintained the idea his brother was a good person despite his families beliefs.
As the story goes forward the alienated Roman son takes himself away from the family to prove himself. He does this by going away for years, joining the Roman army and fighting his way up the ranks to become a captain. He returns to Jerusalem and his family many years later under the command of Pontius Pilot and is again in conflict with his family because he is Roman and they are Jews. An altercation leads Messala to have to make a decision to punish his family and so he sends Ben-Hur to the Galleys, his mother and sister to the Cross. “Rome wants blood – I have to give them some”. Messala is forced to make this cruel decision in order to fit in with the Romans.
Years later Ben-Hur escapes the galleys and returns to Jerusalem, now under Roman rule. This comes about when he has washed up on the shore after his galley sinks in the Ionian Sea following a Roman battle with the Greeks. He now becomes indebted to Sheik Liderim, who finds him, “the bargain is this Judah Ben-Hur – You owe me your life. I expert that bill to be paid” and”How is it that you weren’t put directly to the sword”. Judah replies “I was born to station, a rich Jew sentenced to a slow death. I imagine there are many in Rome who find that amusing – Sheik Liderim agrees with Juda “Was there ever a kind more obsessed with the obscene? People starve. The masses are enslaved and Caesar asks for less bread and more circuses”.
Sheik Liderim actually is a good man, and his family has also suffered at the hands of Romans. The two men become friends after being honest with each other. He trains Ben-Hur to race his chariots for him. “Young men race chariots, old men wager on young men who race chariots. Sheik Liderim takes revenge by gambling against the Romans and winning their money.
In his role as chariot racer Ben-Hur meets his brother in a race. This conflict leads to a final competition in the Roman Circus. Only one of them could be the winner. The Jewish brother wins and the Roman brother loses the race and a leg. His army leave Jerusalem and leave him behind. They don’t won’t him anymore.
I think that Messala is interesting because he cannot place himself. He is isolated within his home because he was borne a Roman not a Jew, nor does he fit with the Roman way of life. An example of this is – instead of massacring the people of a village as an example to other villagers he just drove the Zealots away and let the rest of the villagers go free. In the movie we see the adult Messala playing swords with a young boy and then his commander rides in and demands to know why the village has not been wiped out. Messala replied “but who word plough the fields”. Then his commander interrupts with “we all have heard the stories about how your uncle had his hand in murdering Caesar. Are you as traitorous as he was”? His commander forces Messala to think again about his showing mercy.
.Messala had a similar conversation with his commander when he said the “Romans should stop taking stones from Jewish graves to build their arena”. This tells me Messala is an intelligent and thinking person who does not just act on prejudice. He tries to see further than his officers
In a small way I can relate to Messala because I cannot to fit in to my school life the same as he could not fit into his army life. I understand why he choose to go with the Roman army because at the time they were his best fit and substituted for his family. Later when he lost his leg he realised that they did not care for him in the way he believed they should.
Something I also found interesting was that when Messala sent his brother to the galleys he still followed up information about his brother’s ship, given to him, by the soldiers in his command. Messala was angry when he heard that his brother’s ship had been sunk. I think this shows he was undecided about which side he was on.
Challenges the characters had to overcome
Ben-Hur had to overcome the challenge of a family divided and the loss of a beloved brother to a way of life he could not agree with and his brother’s cruelty to the family. He also had to overcome his desire for revenge on Messala. He began to change following a chance meeting with a carpenter called Jesus Christ and being influenced by him. “Hate, anger, fear. These are lies they use to turn you against each other. When you set aside the hate they force you to carry then you know that love is our true nature”. Juda’s meeting with Jesus caused him to change his outlook on life and taught him about forgiveness. This was re-enforced by his wife, Esther, who chose a life of kindness and caring for others, spreading the word of Jesus when Judah had been taken away.
At the end of the story Ben-Hur had to overcome all the terrible things his brother did and take him back into his family and his brother resisted this. “Brother you remember I was hurt and you carried me even when your strength was gone. You are hurt now and all I can do is carry you.” At this time the brothers forgave each other
Messala had to overcome his insecurity relating to his membership in the family as an adopted son and he had to overcome the harsh lessons of the Roman way of life that he just could not make his own.
Messages I took from the Text
I disagree with the family isolating the Roman brother because Ben-Hur was hurt in the horse race they had as young men. I understand that people think they need to blame someone because then they have an explanation for bad events that happen, but it was not anyone’s fault. It was a terrible accident. I think this type of behaviour is wrong. Both brothers chose to race each other. It could have been Messala who was hurt. Messala had spent most of his life with them making him as much a part of their family as Ben-Hur and the daughter. The family’s reaction showed their underlying prejudice toward Messala and the Romans.
There are more messages I took from the story all of which can be founded in the bible (which my mother and grandmother read to me as a kid)
The following is a quote with a powerful message “don’t speak your hate for all when you don’t even know one”. This was said by Ben-Hur to a Zealot that he rescued from an attack. The Zealot was shot with an arrow by a Roman. The Zealot hated all Romans but had never met one!
Who I would recommend this Film For
I would recommend this film for people who like a good action movie and a story that has reference to real events from history. Things that actually were thought to have happened.
The story of Ben-Hur was perhaps based on the Bible? I am not a religious person myself, but enjoyed knowing something about what happened during this time as a lot of people do believe in the story of Jesus Christ. It is still part of our society today.
The movie was action packed and held my interest from start to finish. I have watched it several times.