Ben Hur (2016)

Just out of curiosity I decided to watch the remake of Ben Hur to see how it stacks up against the original classic 1959 Charlton Heston film. It features a Jewish nobleman, Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) and his adoptive Roman brother Messala (Toby Kebbell) who are best friends despite their different origins. While racing horses, Ben-Hur is hurt and Messala carries him back to their family home in Jerusalem. Despite the hospitality of Ben Hur’s mother Naomi (Ayelet Zurer) and the affections of sister Tirzah (Sofia Black D’Elia), Messala feels alienated and enlists in the Roman army and fights in the Roman Empire’s wars in Germany. Ben-Hur also develops feelings for the family slave Esther (Nazanin Boniadi)

Three years later, Messala returns as a decorated Roman officer. His return coincides with a rising insurrection by the Zealots, who are opposed to the oppressive nature of Roman rule. Judah treats and shelters a young Zealot youth named Dismas (Moisés Arias). Messala reunites with Ben-Hur and attempts to convince his adoptive brother to serve as an informant. Following a reunion dinner with Ben-Hur and his family, Messala informs them that a new Roman governor Pontius Pilate (Pilou Asbæk) will be taking residence in Jerusalem and that no incidents must occur.

Days later, Pontius Pilate marches into Jerusalem with Ben-Hur and his family watching from a balcony. Dismas attempts to assassinate Pilate with a bow but fails. In retaliation, the Romans storm Ben-Hur’s household and arrest him and his family. Rather than betray a fellow Jew, Ben-Hur takes responsibility for the assassination attempt and is sentenced to enslavement aboard a galley. His mother and sister are sentenced to be crucified. Ben-Hur and Messala fall out. Ben-Hur also encounters Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro).

Ben-Hur endures five years of slavery as a rower aboard a Roman galley under the command of Quintus Arius (James Cosmo). During a naval battle against Greek rebels, Ben-Hur’s galley is destroyed and he manages to cling to a floating mast. He is washed ashore and is found by Sheik Ilderim (Morgan Freeman), who recognizes him as an escaped slave. Ben-Hur manages to convince Ilderim not to hand him over to the Romans by treating one of the Nubian’s racing horses. Ben-Hur bonds with the racing horses, so Ilderim trains Him to be a chariot racer. Ben-Hur and Sheik Ilderim later travel to Jerusalem to take part in a grand chariot race at the newly built Roman circus. Jesus’ draws the attention of governor Pilate and Messala, who is now the commander of the Roman garrison and a champion chariot racer. While visiting Jerusalem, Ben-Hur encounters Esther, who has become a follower of Jesus and is involved in charity work. Esther tells Ben-Hur that his mother and sister are dead.

Ben-Hur later confronts Messala alone in their former home but flees when Roman soldiers turn up. After the Romans execute twenty Jews in reprisal. Sheik Ilderim teaches Ben-Hur about chariot racing. Later, Ben-Hur encounters a former Roman soldier named Druses (Marwan Kenzari), who informs him that his mother Naomi and sister Tirzah are in fact still alive unfortunately they both have leprosy. Meanwhile Sheik Ilderim convinces Pilate that Ben-Hur should compete in the chariot race while Esther tries to convince Messala not to race Ben-Hur, but he is adamant that he will win. On the day of the race, Ben-Hur follows Ilderim’s advice, however Messala cheats and a brutal and grueling race, takes place between Ben-Hur and Messala….

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