‘Ben-Hur’ to be Resurrected for New Audiences

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“Ben-Hur” – a movie most of my generation only knows through AFI highlight reels and that one episode of The Simpsons in which The Critic made a guest appearance- will be remade, rebooted and reimagined for a new audience to ignore.

Deadline reports that MGM is planning to produce a new version of “Ben-Hur” that is more faithful to Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of The Christ” which should make all of Wallace’s fans very happy once someone gets around to digging up their graves to tell them the good news.

The spec script (which was penned Keith Clarke) promises to be very different than the William Wyler original and will focus more on the formative years of Judah Ben-Hur and Messala before the Roman Empire took control of Jerusalem.

Deadline goes on to reveal what we could expect to see in the upcoming movie:

Judah Ben-Hur was a Jewish prince and Messala the son of a Roman tax collector. After the latter leaves to be educated in Rome for five years, the young man returns with a different attitude. Messala mocks Judah and his religion and when a procession passes by Judah’s house and a roof tile accidentally falls and hits the governor, Messala betrays his childhood friend and manipulates it so that Judah is sold into slavery and certain death on a Roman warship, with his mother and sister thrown in prison for life.

Judah doesn’t die, and vows revenge on Messala which, like in the films, culminates in the famed chariot races. There is another way the script differs from the movie, in that it will tell the parallel tale of Jesus Christ, with whom Ben-Hur has several encounters which moves him to become a believer in the Messiah, and which culminates in Christ being sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate. Intertwined in all this is the lifelong struggle between Ben-Hur and Messala.

Ben-Hur is yet another symptom of the religious epic-demic that is currently seizing Hollywood with Brad Pitt’s Pontius Pilate film, Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg’s dueling Moses bio-pics and Darren Aronefsky’s $600 million dollar claymation spectacular The Grand Adventure of Davey and Goliath which is set to film inside my mind this spring.

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