Guest Author - Tammy Cordani
“Ben-Hur” is the epic tale of the successful Judah Ben-Hur (played by Charlton Heston) who loses everything when he is wrongfully accused of the attempted murder of his friend Messala (played by Stephen Boyd). After acquiring his freedom, Ben-Hur is determined to get his revenge but his trials and tribulations take him on an arduous road. Why should movie fans consider getting this movie on DVD?
Fans of the movie will be delighted in the four disc special edition collection. Discs One and Two contain the 1959 movie starring Charlton Heston. With a running time of 212 minutes, “Ben Hur” is still considered one of the greatest cinematic epics of all time. Heston also appears on the disc’s optional commentary along with film historian T. Gene Hatcher. Viewers can also opt for a “music only” version that contains the score by Miklos Rozsa.
Disc Three contains the 1925 black and white, silent version that runs around 143 minutes. This version starred Ramon Novarro in the title role and features the score by Carl Davis. The movie still stands the test of time as a cinematic achievement for the earlier days of Hollywood.
Movie lovers who appreciate DVD extras will not be disappointed with Disc Four: About The Movies. The disc includes the 2005 documentary “Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinemas” which discusses a variety of films extras and an insightful look at things such as the legendary chariot race, costumes and set design for the 1959 epic movie. Another featured documentary is the 1994 “Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic”. This feature takes a look at the various incarnations of the Ben-Hur story from the book by Lew Wallace and stage productions to the 1907 short film and the 1925 and 1959 feature films. “Ben-Hur: A Journey Through Pictures” is another feature that’s included on Disc Four and provides an audiovisual recreation of the films via movie stills, storyboards, music and dialogue. Other features of Disc Four include a gallery of vintage newsreels, the 1960 Academy Award highlights where “Ben-Hur” won an unprecedented 11 Oscars including best picture, best actor for Charlton Heston and best supporting actor for Hugh Griffith and a theatrical trailer gallery. Of particular interest is the inclusion of screen tests and a notable appearance by Leslie Nielsen who gained fame in such comedic films as “The Naked Gun” series.
As an added bonus the DVD collection comes with a thirty-one page booklet that highlights past “Ben-Hur” stage plays, shows 1959 movie stills and includes sections on the movie’s casting, set, wardrobe and music.
After almost fifty years, “Ben Hur” is still considered one of the greatest films of all time. A movie fan’s DVD collection wouldn’t be complete without this four disc set that features not only the 1959 movie but the unique 1925 version as well as plenty of DVD special features.
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