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This is a comments thread about FSM CD: Ben-Hur
 
 Posted:   Nov 26, 2012 - 1:44 AM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

I just saw BEN HUR for the first time last night, on TCM. It was pretty good. I think it was a little long and could benefit from some judicious editing, but other than that I liked it.

 
 Posted:   Nov 26, 2012 - 8:10 AM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

I just saw BEN HUR for the first time last night, on TCM. It was pretty good. I think it was a little long and could benefit from some judicious editing, but other than that I liked it.

It's a big story, and takes a while to tell. I'd be interested to know what you would have cut out, because right off the top of my head I can't think of any wasted space in the film (though that chariot race thingy does take up a lot of time!). I would agree, though, that it could be considered "pretty good," having won a mere 11 Academy Awards. (No sense going out on a limb.)

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 26, 2012 - 9:04 AM   
 By:   paul rossen   (Member)

I just saw BEN HUR for the first time last night, on TCM. It was pretty good. I think it was a little long and could benefit from some judicious editing, but other than that I liked it.

It's a big story, and takes a while to tell. I'd be interested to know what you would have cut out, because right off the top of my head I can't think of any wasted space in the film (though that chariot race thingy does take up a lot of time!). I would agree, though, that it could be considered "pretty good," having won a mere 11 Academy Awards. (No sense going out on a limb.)


FYI there was indeed an edited version released in theatres during the 60's/70/s running a bit longer than 3 hrs. Among edited scenes was the complete nativity prologue...

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 26, 2012 - 9:20 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Wyler himself said at a later date that he would have cut that prologue. (Music lovers will differ!) But I'm sure the director could not have approved the 1969 reissue, which destroyed the continuity and rendered some scenes unintelligible. (I've repressed any memories of the specifics.)

One of the original reviews (Time or Newsweek?) said that the omission of a subplot (Judah's involvement in Ilderim's anti-Roman revolt) actually made the second act drag. The writer felt that a more inclusive narrative treatment would have paradoxically made the story move faster.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 26, 2012 - 9:27 PM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

I just saw BEN HUR for the first time last night, on TCM. It was pretty good. I think it was a little long and could benefit from some judicious editing, but other than that I liked it.

It's a big story, and takes a while to tell. I'd be interested to know what you would have cut out, because right off the top of my head I can't think of any wasted space in the film (though that chariot race thingy does take up a lot of time!). I would agree, though, that it could be considered "pretty good," having won a mere 11 Academy Awards. (No sense going out on a limb.)


There's probably no wasted space in that sense, Dana, just a generally leisurely pace. It was always thus. We shouldn't think that today's ADHD generation just don't have the patience, because I can remember comments in 1960 along the same lines. Hell, even Heston complains of it being too long in his work notes.

My opinion is that it's probably too leisurely for a general audience but not for fans. I wouldn't cut any scenes, but if I were directing I might have speeded things up a little. On the other hand I'm not Wyler, and I think there were good reasons why he lingers where he does (in fact I'm still discovering this film's depths). For instance, the scene of Judah's and Arrius' rescue, where an inordinately long time seems to be spent drinking water, is of course part of Wyler's and Fry's water metaphor that runs throughout the film--one of many running metaphors.

Incidentally, has anyone noticed the Christ references throughout the pre and post race scenes? Judah's prayer before the race: "Into your hands I commend my life"; Pilate's crowning Judah after the race: "I crown their god", with Judah then looking very much like Jesus with the crown of thorns. And all this after Balthasar has mistaken Judah for Jesus at the oasis. Oh, there's much in those 3+ hours. smile

 
 Posted:   Nov 26, 2012 - 11:06 PM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

When it was first shown, every second was indispensable. The excitement of the occasion in the huge, packed cinemas was very great and the audiences were spellbound.
But on subsequent viewings it seems to crawl in places. Much in the same way that being at a football Cup Final is 100% engrossing, but watching the replays of the game afterwards, who needs to watch the coin toss again or the presentation of the teams to some dignitaries? You just want to see the actual action again.
I saw Ben-Hur when it was first shown. Those who weren't around in those days have no idea what a huge and SERIOUS event it was, for whole families. The slower parts of the film were received by audiences with reverence, not impatience.

 
 Posted:   Nov 26, 2012 - 11:19 PM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

There's probably no wasted space in that sense, Dana, just a generally leisurely pace. It was always thus. We shouldn't think that today's ADHD generation just don't have the patience, because I can remember comments in 1960 along the same lines. Hell, even Heston complains of it being too long in his work notes.

My opinion is that it's probably too leisurely for a general audience but not for fans. I wouldn't cut any scenes, but if I were directing I might have speeded things up a little. On the other hand I'm not Wyler, and I think there were good reasons why he lingers where he does (in fact I'm still discovering this film's depths). For instance, the scene of Judah's and Arrius' rescue, where an inordinately long time seems to be spent drinking water, is of course part of Wyler's and Fry's water metaphor that runs throughout the film--one of many running metaphors.

Incidentally, has anyone noticed the Christ references throughout the pre and post race scenes? Judah's prayer before the race: "Into your hands I commend my life"; Pilate's crowning Judah after the race: "I crown their god", with Judah then looking very much like Jesus with the crown of thorns. And all this after Balthasar has mistaken Judah for Jesus at the oasis. Oh, there's much in those 3+ hours. smile


Though certainly not the world's most patient 11-year-old at the time, I remember sitting in the theater watching BEN-HUR on the big screen, completely transfixed, so moved by the story and the music. And then it was over, and I was barely aware of how much time had passed. I do think that the experience of seeing it in a theater made a large difference (I was fortunate to see it 2 or 3 times that way). But I'm happy to be able also to watch it on Blu-ray in my living room, which I do once or twice a year, and as you say, to discover things I missed the last time I watched it. I have to be in the mood and have the time (I usually do it when my wife is out of the house for the afternoon and I can be sure there will be no distractions). I can understand how one might find 212 minutes just too long for any movie, period, but for me it's all good, and that's just how long it takes to tell this particularly story coherently.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 12:37 AM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

Totally agree with this. I was 14 at the time and totally mesmerised. Everything about the film was so grand and reverent and dignified; it touched me, as they say, where I lived, and is still my all-time favourite film. I must have seen it 30 times in the years since, but as you and Basil suggest it really must be seen under the best conditions--if not a cinema then at least a big screen TV in Blu ray. And again as Basil has mentioned, no one who wasn't there can imagine what a huge event this film was. They not only don't make them like that anymore, they don't present them like that.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 6:48 AM   
 By:   Joe Caps   (Member)


Good thing the music is on cd. At least there, you can hear the satr of Bethlehem as it was meant to be heard, with the chorus entering loud and clear on the third note, as it always was in the theater and on laserdisc.

None of the dvds, including the blu ray get it right. The blue ray has the chorus slwoly faded in during the piece and never loud enough. Why?
Warners, leave the damn thing alone. !!!

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 10:30 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

I have no idea what's "right." Given the multiplicity of manuscripts and film edits, the question may well be unanswerable. I must say that I liked what I heard in the Turner telecast the other day. Chorus was from the rear and relatively soft. It seemed like a gentle musical enhancement rather than an obvious statement that this is going to be a Religious story.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 2:03 PM   
 By:   filmusicnow   (Member)

Totally agree with this. I was 14 at the time and totally mesmerised. Everything about the film was so grand and reverent and dignified; it touched me, as they say, where I lived, and is still my all-time favourite film. I must have seen it 30 times in the years since, but as you and Basil suggest it really must be seen under the best conditions--if not a cinema then at least a big screen TV in Blu ray. And again as Basil has mentioned, no one who wasn't there can imagine what a huge event this film was. They not only don't make them like that anymore, they don't present them like that.


Well spoken.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 2:08 PM   
 By:   filmusicnow   (Member)

I remember when "Ben-Hur" made its premiere on 2/12/'71, and it preempted the entire C.B.S. Sunday night lineup for four hours (three hours and 32 minutes plus commercials), one of the few times that an epic film was on for an entire night on television (another one was "The Bridge On The River Kwai"). The film remains one of my all time favorites, and introduced me to Miklos Rozsa as well. I have bought the F.S.M. set, and it is truly an impressive collection, for which I not only get to hear the score from the film, but also the rerecording by Carlo Savina and the Symphony Orchestra of Rome. And I just saw the film for the for the first time last February (at the same time the F.S.M. set came out).

 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 2:48 PM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

Totally agree with this. I was 14 at the time and totally mesmerised. Everything about the film was so grand and reverent and dignified; it touched me, as they say, where I lived, and is still my all-time favourite film. I must have seen it 30 times in the years since, but as you and Basil suggest it really must be seen under the best conditions--if not a cinema then at least a big screen TV in Blu ray. And again as Basil has mentioned, no one who wasn't there can imagine what a huge event this film was. They not only don't make them like that anymore, they don't present them like that.


Well spoken.


Ah... You live on dead dreams. the myths of the past. The glory of Camera65 has gone– do you think it will return? Heston will not rise again to save us, nor Wyler!

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 3:05 PM   
 By:   Joe Caps   (Member)

I have no idea what's "right." Given the multiplicity of manuscripts and film edits, the question may well be unanswerable. I must say that I liked what I heard in the Turner telecast the other day. Chorus was from the rear and relatively soft. It seemed like a gentle musical enhancement rather than an obvious statement that this is going to be a Religious story.

Its simple to compare. on all older, pre dvd videos, the chorus makes the correct entrance and in the theater it was very loud. the orchestra accompnanied the chorus, not the other way around, On all dvds, including the blu ray, the chorus arrives late and not loud enough.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 3:16 PM   
 By:   Marcato   (Member)

I have no idea what's "right." Given the multiplicity of manuscripts and film edits, the question may well be unanswerable. I must say that I liked what I heard in the Turner telecast the other day. Chorus was from the rear and relatively soft. It seemed like a gentle musical enhancement rather than an obvious statement that this is going to be a Religious story.

Its simple to compare. on all older, pre dvd videos, the chorus makes the correct entrance and in the theater it was very loud. the orchestra accompnanied the chorus, not the other way around, On all dvds, including the blu ray, the chorus arrives late and not loud enough.




The best way to compare is to look at MR sketches which itself was changed when the orchestrating began


 
 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 3:52 PM   
 By:   Joe Caps   (Member)

I have no idea what's "right." Given the multiplicity of manuscripts and film edits, the question may well be unanswerable. I must say that I liked what I heard in the Turner telecast the other day. Chorus was from the rear and relatively soft. It seemed like a gentle musical enhancement rather than an obvious statement that this is going to be a Religious story.

Its simple to compare. on all older, pre dvd videos, the chorus makes the correct entrance and in the theater it was very loud. the orchestra accompnanied the chorus, not the other way around, On all dvds, including the blu ray, the chorus arrives late and not loud enough.




The best way to compare is to look at MR sketches which itself was changed when the orchestrating began


Sorry, NO. The final film should be what it has always been since 1959. its very simplem.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 5:12 PM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

Totally agree with this. I was 14 at the time and totally mesmerised. Everything about the film was so grand and reverent and dignified; it touched me, as they say, where I lived, and is still my all-time favourite film. I must have seen it 30 times in the years since, but as you and Basil suggest it really must be seen under the best conditions--if not a cinema then at least a big screen TV in Blu ray. And again as Basil has mentioned, no one who wasn't there can imagine what a huge event this film was. They not only don't make them like that anymore, they don't present them like that.


Well spoken.


Ah... You live on dead dreams. the myths of the past. The glory of Camera65 has gone– do you think it will return? Heston will not rise again to save us, nor Wyler!


That should be "...no, not Wyler!" Get it exact, Basil! smile

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 5:15 PM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

I have no idea what's "right." Given the multiplicity of manuscripts and film edits, the question may well be unanswerable. I must say that I liked what I heard in the Turner telecast the other day. Chorus was from the rear and relatively soft. It seemed like a gentle musical enhancement rather than an obvious statement that this is going to be a Religious story.

I think given the temper of the times heavenly choirs are best kept to a minimum, whatever the original was.

 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 6:28 PM   
 By:   George Komar   (Member)

I think given the temper of the times heavenly choirs are best kept to a minimum, whatever the original was.

On the contrary, Messala, given the "temper of the times," heavenly choirs should be loud! wink

 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2012 - 6:43 PM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)



Ah... You live on dead dreams. the myths of the past. The glory of Camera65 has gone– do you think it will return? Heston will not rise again to save us, nor Wyler!


That should be "...no, not Wyler!" Get it exact, Basil! smile

Originally... "Joshua will not rise again to save you, nor David".

 
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