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Ben-Hur (1959)



Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 39
Fresh: 34 | Rotten: 5

Uneven, but in terms of epic scope and grand spectacle, Ben-Hur still ranks among Hollywood's finest examples of pure entertainment.


Average Rating: 5/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 2

Uneven, but in terms of epic scope and grand spectacle, Ben-Hur still ranks among Hollywood's finest examples of pure entertainment.



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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 103,825

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Movie Info

Record-breaking winner of 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, and Score, this epic masterpiece stars Charlton Heston ("The Ten Commandments," "Touch of Evil") in the title role of a rebellious Israelite Jew who takes on the Roman Empire during the time of Christ. Featuring one of the most famous action sequences of all time -- the breathtaking chariot race. Directed by Oscar-winner William Wyler ("Mrs. Miniver," "The Best Years of Our Lives"). Recently selected

Sep 13, 2005


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January 3, 2014:
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October 24, 2013:
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The "12 Years a Slave" writer has come aboard Timur Bekmambetov's new version of the classic.


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All Critics (39) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (5) | DVD (39)

The biggest and the best of Hollywood's super-spectacles.

August 22, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Entire new frontiers in boredom were opened up by this MGM whopper from 1959.

December 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (16)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie could be trying to say that for some people religion is an escape from their sexuality, but it seems unlikely.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out | Comments (3)
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mr. Wyler and his money-free producers have smartly and effectively laid stress on the powerful and meaningful personal conflicts that are strong in this old heroic tale.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A majestic achievement, representing a superb blending of the motion picture arts by master craftsmen.

February 13, 2001 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

1959 Biblical epic has fierce blood-spilling, cruelty.

September 9, 2014 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

At 212 minutes it is far too long, and large swathes of the action appear redundant or unnecessary. "Bigger than Ben-Hur!" they say. That may not be a compliment.

February 23, 2014 Full Review Source: Quickflix

Some critics believe that William Wyler's box-office smash is no match for the 1925 silent version, but there's no denying that the race that forms the famous climax is one of the most iconic sequences in Hollywood history.

February 12, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Epic in both length and stature, Ben-Hur goes on for-bloody-ever... but the action set-pieces remain unrivalled, even in the age of CGI.

February 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A masterpiece of epic filmmaking, a profound religious experience and one of the greatest films ever made.

January 29, 2012 Full Review Source: IGN DVD

There is no reason to feel guilty about not loving this mammoth epic.

November 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Snobbery
Film Snobbery

Mostly tedious Sunday school tale.

March 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comments (9)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

It's very much of its time, overblown and overlong -- but Ben-Hur is rightfully lodged at the forefront of Hollywood history.

February 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

The kind of sweeping pseudo-biblical epic that Hollywood was famous for. If not for Heston's weak performance and Boyd's ludicrous one, the film might have been better.

November 15, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight | Comment (1)
Cinema Sight

In the lead, Heston is stiff, and the writing is uneven, but overall, it's a rousing epic done on a massive scale with hundreds of sets and extras, and a priceless race scene.

July 16, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

The film moves with an assurance and majesty hardly seen in modern movies.

July 2, 2006 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

A movie that has come to define Biblical epic.

October 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Reno Gazette-Journal

An absolute classic Hollywood epic!

March 9, 2005
Movie Metropolis

Awesome spectacle, unforgettable story, Heston's best

October 23, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

The grandest of Hollywood's classic biblical epics… doesn't transcend its genre, with its spectacle and melodrama, but it does these things about as well as possible.

April 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

Predictable but magnificent and satisfying.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Ben-Hur

A sword and sandal epic intended to begger your measly little life...which it almost manages to do, dadgumit! Heston represents Israel groaning under the Roman yoke, needlessly persecuted, until we get to the famous climax: the chariot race. The notoriously long film should've ended there but instead tacks on a snooze-worthy bit about Christian redemption, perhaps as justification for the previous hours of hedonistic excess. Still, old school sumptuous-ness played for the epic factor, missing by only that much.
November 15, 2013

Super Reviewer

Oscar wins mean very little to me, Ben-Hur beat films that were better than it and the better films that year weren't even nominated. Many an unworthy winner has been awarded since. Personally I felt Ben-Hur to be over-hyped, as many of the classic epics are. I do appreciate the production that went into the making of it, as cynical as I can be about big budget studio film, there is much I enjoyed and respect about this film but it's hard to ignore the huge faults also. The story, a far from perfect adaptation of Lew Wallace's novel, is full of contradictions. I'm not going to go into faith, belief or Christianity but I know a bit about it and for the most part it gets it wrong. Although I realise this is a work of fiction, the factual elements are completely incorrect (Julius Ceaser died before the birth of Christ) which is always a source of annoyance to me with films of this nature. Considering the film is 3 and a half hours long, much of the story is skipped. You'd think that that amount of time would allow the story to be told in its entirety but William Wyler lets every scene hang unnecessarily. The melodrama replaces decent acting for the best part of the film and the performances that are worth speaking of (Stephen Boyd) are overshadowed by the awful performance from Heston and the cartoon character like Hugh Griffith who I'm amazed won and was even nominated for best supporting actor. Hype is a funny thing really, as soon as a film becomes a multi-Oscar winner it becomes somehow untouchable. Ben-Hur has dated badly and is not quite worth the investment of time it takes in which to watch.
January 21, 2013

Super Reviewer

Powerful and masterfully crafted, Ben Hur is a timeless epic that will continue to thrill and move audience members throughout the generations.
August 26, 2012
Matthew Samuel Mirliani

Super Reviewer

William Wyler's epic and unforgettable masterpiece. One of the best remakes ever! Touching. Fresh.
July 27, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

    1. Messala: Look for them in the Valley of the Lepers, if you can recognize them. The race goes on, Judah!
    – Submitted by Frances H (19 months ago)
    1. Messala: Look for them in the Valley of the Lepers, if you can recognize them. The race goes on, Judah!
    – Submitted by Frances H (19 months ago)
    1. Quintus Arrius: We keep you alive to serve this ship.
    – Submitted by Frances H (19 months ago)
    1. Quintus Arrius: What is your name, forty-one?
    2. Judah Ben Hur: Judah Ben Hur.
    – Submitted by Nik M (2 years ago)
    1. Judah Ben Hur: And I felt his voice take the sword out of my hand.
    – Submitted by Matthew E (2 years ago)
    1. Messala: This is the day Judah. It's between us now.
    – Submitted by Javis C (3 years ago)
View all quotes (6)

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Foreign Titles

  • Ben-Hur (1959) (UK)
  • Ben-Hur (1959) (CA)
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