Our folk`s gladiator.
Just as we "young un`s" lined up to awe at ridley scott`s and russell crowe`s virtual epic tour of the roman world in "gladiator", it`s sometimes hard to imagine that our own parents (or even great-grandparents in that matter) lined up to awe at epic visions they shall always call their own. william wyler`s and charton heston`s "ben-hur" delivered these visions and even more. this film, complete with physical struggle and emotional anguish, blended with eternal themes of personal retribution and divine redemption, proves that even a forty year old film can carry the same compelling messages and visions without the aid of digital reality. at times, i found this film to surpass "gladiator" on many sides. i`ll be quite blunt about it, stephen boyd`s massala was a more vicious opponent to judah ben-hur than joaquin phoenix`s commodus was to maximus. sure, commodus showed no mercy as he swiftly swiped maximus`s identity away from the roman sphere of power after maximus defied his claim to power, but massala took a more deliberate act of personal retribution to vanquish his blood brother`s standing in judea, illustating massala`s stern allegiance to the roman way. yes, the acting is a bit theatric at times and there is a very overt religious message attached, but if you watch "ben-hur" closely you will understand how well constructed these parallels are. as far as the chariot spectacle goes, sorry ridley, but this scene shall always be film`s greatest tribute to rome`s ancient glory. the organic vitality of this scene is simply unmatched in speed, fury, and urgency, and its surprising outcome will leave you shocked! clearly, you will be at a loss if you don`t experienece "ben-hur", not only as a source of inspiration for our own epics, but also as a glimpse into the spectacles and values our older family members saw and learned from. the dvd is a complete evening of entertainment, really! take time to notice the subleties of the color and sound. later, relish the outstanding documentary film about this production. if you watch and listen very closely, you might notice that they never needed a computer to accomplish some very convincing illusions of size ans splendor, but that`s just movie magic for you, it inspires generation after generation, as this film always will. watch "ben-hur", enjoy it with your family. and hey, do watch it side to side with "gladiator" and notice their similarities, their differences and their wonder. but most of all, learn from it, and treasure it forever!