Showing on Five this afternoon at 3.10pm
There were 8,000 extras
It was shot on an immense 18 acre set
It took five weeks to film
Widely hailed as the best action scene in cinema’s history (and with no CGI to be seen) the Ben-Hur chariot race has to be the one thing that everybody associates with this film about two childhood friends in 1st-century Palestine who grow up to become deadly enemies. Read more about it here.
I, however, am not a big action fan, so the race is not what I remember about this film. No, my overriding memory of this movie is the sexual tension between Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) and Messala (Stephen Boyd).
You know the story – condemned by Messala to almost certain death as a galley slave, Ben-Hur survives to seek his revenge. Now, I’m certainly not the first to point out that no man would react so hatefully to his old boyhood pal unless he’d been rejected as a lover.
It’s the stuff of film legend. Allegedly, co-writer Gore Vidal advised director William Wyler of the plot’s shortcomings. Explaining the need for a reason for the rivalry between the two men, he suggested he direct Stephen Boyd to weave the spurned lover subtext into his performance. Heston wasn’t informed of this decision because it was believed that he’d disapprove.
Whether this story is true or not has never quite been established, but take a look at this clip.
Hmm, is it a true story? The answer seems pretty to clear to me.