Movie Review – Ben Hur (2016)
I watched Ben Hur (1959) over twenty years ago and I was impressed. This, despite Charlton Heston’s tendency to overact and the dragged out script. What “moved” me, so to speak, was how skilfully the message of Christ was interwoven into the story. Christ, the actual key character, was almost enigmatic in the 1959 version. This had a profound effect on the underlying message of love and salvation. It was a perfect example of how lesser is often best in storytelling. However a subdued touch is often the most effective in achieving the objectives of the storyteller.
Sadly, this touch is lost in Ben Hur (2016). The remake feels almost desperate that you do not forget Christ’s message for mankind, with reminders about love and forgiveness popping up at every corner. Making this worse was how the main story was notably sacrificed to allow for this emphasis. Several characters went through inexplicable transitions in personalities without adequate elaboration. To me, this hardly expound the life-changing ministry of Jesus Christ. Instead, it just encourages scepticism. For example, I would have much preferred more careful crafting of Messala’s personality transitions. His switch in disposition felt so abrupt at times. Frequently, to the extent of being psychotic.
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