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    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


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    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Ben Hur to be Re-made for TV

    Just four days after the death of Charlton Heston, Alchemy TV has announced that it is remaking one of his best known works. Ben Hur has, been filmed three times before, as well as being released as a cartoon voiced by Heston, but now according to Variety it's to be made into TV mini-series as well.

    Personally I find the timing of this annoucement somewhat distasteful - an unnerving keenness to prize the horse whip from Heston's cold dead hands, but in fairness, producer David Wyler has dedicated the film to both Heston and his father. Wyler's father is, as you may have guessed, the great William Wyler who both directed the 1959 version and worked on the 1925 production.

    Wyler also states that the new film will feature a younger Ben Hur, and that he wants the film to "look at the spirituality within the piece rather than directly relating it to a specific religion". At the same time he intends that the series will be more in line with Lew Wallace's original novel than its predecessors.

    There's a bit more on this over at FilmChat including some footage from the 1907 version.

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    • At 11:30 am, April 10, 2008, Blogger Kevin C. Neece said…

      Totally mixed feelings on this one. Agreed, the timing of the announcement seems wrong. But the Wyler connection is intriguing! This will mean that the Wyler family will have been involved in every authorized live action cinematic treatment of this novel. (The 1907 version, of course, was done without the acquisition of adaptation rights.) Even the animated one has the Heston-Wyler connection! It was Heston's second-to-last film role, by the way.

    • At 11:41 am, April 10, 2008, Blogger Kevin C. Neece said…

      Just downloaded the YouTube videos of the 1907 film What a treat! Thanks so much to you and Chattaway!

    • At 12:15 am, April 11, 2008, Blogger Witlessd said…

      Matt, you say that the FilmChat contains "some footage" from the 1907 version. In fact I suspect that it is essentially all the footage from that version. Here's a contemporary synopsis:

      "In Sixteen magnificent scenes with illustrated titles: - Jerusalem Rebels at Roman Misrule. The Family of Hur. An unfortunate accident. Wounding of the Procurator. Ben Hur in chains to the galleys. Ben Hur adopted by Arrias and proclaimed a Roman Citizen. Ben Hur and Messala. The Challenge. The Chariot Race: 1. Grand triumphal entry of chariot and athletes. 2. The Start. 3. First Time by. 4. Second time by. 5. The dash for the finish. 6. The finish. BEN HUR - VICTOR" (Kinematograph and Lantern Weekly, 16 January 1908)

      From that description, no significant footage is missing at all - quite bizarre when you realise that there is no sea battle. So the film was never really a telling of the story, more a series of tableaux from the story - edited highlights, really. And note, not a shred of religion, proving perhaps that there is nothing new under the sun...

    • At 1:55 am, April 11, 2008, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks for your comments,

      I've not had a chance to view the footage yet, but the thought that this is the whole film is intriguing, and, if so, it is interesting that there's no religious scenes in it either.

      I'll hopefully watch it late today. All I've seen so far are the excerpts on the Box Set version. Incidentally I think I commented at the time that it was strange they didn't include the 1907 film in that otherwise very comprehensive set.


    • At 2:47 am, April 11, 2008, Blogger Kevin C. Neece said…

      The complete film is also available on DVD from Buyers' Gallery on ebay. Here's the link:

      Though I'll also wager (having as yet not seen the footage) that the YouTube video is the entire film.

      I would really have liked to see it included in its entirely in that splendid 4-disc Ben-Hur DVD set, though.

    • At 10:17 am, April 11, 2008, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks Kevin,

      They have some cool stuff



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