Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ Reviews

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August 4, 2017
Way ahead of its time. Take the time to watch and enjoy.
September 11, 2016
1993's Schindler's List Is My Fifth Favorite Film Of All Time.
½ September 30, 2015
If I had just one word to describe Ben-Hur, it would have to be grand. Honestly, I went into this with fairly low expectations. With a screenplay by June Mathis, who also penned The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I was expecting a somewhat messy and sloppily put together plot. I could not have been more wrong. The story that Ben-Hur tells is fantastic; perfectly put together with care and consideration for the understanding and entertainment of the viewer. It does, perhaps, drag on a little long after the chariot scene, but manages to have its moments even then. Boasting the largest budget of the silent era, Ben-Hur's production design puts to shame even Lubitsch's lavish sets and costumes. The naval battle and the chariot scenes are truly two of the most impressive things I've ever seen, cementing this original version of Ben-Hur in cinema history.
November 11, 2014
This was the first remake and the first feature length film of the story of Ben-Hur, besides the ye olde English, the film was fairly easy to understand. Everything that happened before we were introduced to Ben Hur or Judah was kinda irrelevant, but all the scenes somewhat tie together. Last week, I watched another silent film, Nosferatu. This was more entertaining and easy to follow. A lot of the film doesn't feel religious, the film us check full of quotes from the Bible. Almost every time Jesus appeared on screen, it was in full technicolor scenes, I don't get it. You never actually see Jesus as a grown adult, you just see his cameo stretched out to heal people or solve problems. The plot and music is good, the script is pretty well written. This is also my first and only viewing of the story.
½ July 22, 2014
Making a film like Ben-Hur in 1959 was truly revolutionary, ambitious and epic. But can you imagine something like that in the 20's? Back then, the media was only starting to exploit the possibilities, and it met a huge upgrade when The Birth of a Nation came in 1915 as the first epic film. 10 years later, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ came to perfect it.

It's most likely that you watched the 1959 remake. In that case, imagine something just as epic but in black and white and silent. It is possible. This version has some differences with the remake (and we are not talking about the runtime, with the 1959 version being over and hour longer), and it results in characters and story events happening and or acting in different ways, but ultimately resulting equally magnificent. The scope is huge, the action scenes are superb, especially for a film this old, and the overall emotions are well delivered. Yet some of the changes I like them better in the 1959 version, as it leaves on a more powerful note. The subtitle of "A Tale of the Christ" however makes more sense here than in the remake. Jesus appears a bit more often (and with his face off-screen too) and in a much more subtle way than the remake. In the remake you see at least his back, while here you barely see his hand. Nevertheless, it goes a bit too far in suddenly accomplishing miracles while being in the way to the Calvary. It was managed better in the remake, as Jesus also affects Ben-Hur big time after the chariot race, while in this silent version they seem to have lost connection after the water scene. But still, the rest of Ben-Hur is just the magnificent piece you expect.

This and its 1959 remake entered the National Film Registry for preservation, and it shows. While Ben-Hur of 1959 is the perfection, this silent version is what established its greatness. A great example of early cinema.
April 27, 2014
This is greater than 1959's ben-hur.
December 24, 2013
Awesome on such a scale, this film is so engrossing and the chariot scene is one of the best cinematic scenes I have seen, very exciting.
January 13, 2013
great movie for the whole family
January 1, 2013
One of Charlton Heston's classic roles. A fabulous Biblical story, involving the crucifixtion of Christ. Many other recognizable faces also star.
November 22, 2012
awesome silent as good as the lavish remake
½ March 11, 2012
It's fairly interesting in how the silent version of Ben-Hur compares to the Heston Ben-Hur. For one thing it's an hour shorter, much better-paced and Jesus is better integrated into the in, he's actually a part of the story instead of being a glorified extended cameo. But the Heston version had a more coherent story and a bit more emotion in it. But on the other hand, this Ben-Hur has a lot more violence in its heart!
December 19, 2011
Watched just for the hell of it.
December 7, 2011
After Metropolis "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" is the best film from the silent era i have seen.
October 27, 2011
An incredible achievement for it's time...a epic masterpiece. In many ways this film exceeded the 1959 version, but i still loved both.

The Jesus sub story in this version was far better done than the 59 version, but it's no point comparing to each other they are both fantastic films.

The sets in this film are extraordinary and it was rumored that the galley fights on the ocean that 400 extras lost their epic and intimate film a must see silent epic.
Super Reviewer
½ September 24, 2011
I think I ought to re-watch this movie. I did just watch it last week, but it was so long I got bored and wasn't paying attention. I do remember a few good scenes, and the epic landscapes and enormous cast are really cool looking, but it's just so long. It really looks like an expensive picture, and the main cast does a good job, so I think it deserves a re-watch.
September 23, 2011
Incredible scope and virtually unmatched in its ambitious imagery.
September 4, 2011
In a lot of ways the equal of the more famous William Wyler version. While that version is slightly better because of its less strained integration of Jesus into the story, this is still high quality silent filmmaking.
Super Reviewer
August 16, 2011
Subjectively speaking, the remake is obviously superior to the original silent classic technically. That's just like saying that The Matrix (1999) is superior to Metropolis (1927) also technically. However, this masterpiece outdoes the epic remake in a more objective way in basically every single aspect. What is funny, though, is that pretentious critics nowadays show harshness towards Wyler's version because of its popularity, when deep inside they know they fought against themselves quite strongly so they could rate it below 4 stars. They have no solid arguments whatsoever. The ones that criticize the silent version and put the remake over the original also lack solid reasons.

Can't all of us be objective, then? Cinema is a serious game. And about Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, it is the best version of the story for a good number of reasons, almost reaching the scope of Griffith's Intolerance, below Abel Gance's Napoleon, but representing a longstanding legend for the Golden Age of US moviemaking.

July 16, 2011
Well made movie, especially by 1926 standards. Memorable chariot race (although I can't help wonder how many horses and people must have been killed to shoot that scene!)
July 15, 2011
Amazing at times what they could do on such a large scale in the '20s. I almost like this better than the '59 version. The color scenes are quite astounding, too, for being hand-drawn over the photography. The chariot race isn't as good as the '59 version, but it's still quite good. Plus, the galley fight is awesome. A sea of people, literally, fighting on two life-size ships!
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