Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ Reviews
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.
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 life...an epic and intimate film a must see silent epic.
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.