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Ben-Hur

In the province of Judea, under the rule of Emperor Tiberius, the prince Judah Ben-Hur attempts to maintain their autonomy from Rome at the same time disassociating himself from the turbulent rebels Zealots. When the foster brother Messala, a Roman rather than Jewish, returns to Jerusalem from the family that hosted him, asks Judas help in stopping the bombers to the life of the governor Pontius Pilate. But for an unlucky Ben-Hur coincidentally he is accused of conspiracy and Messala will do nothing to save him: the prince’s family is sentenced to death, and Ben-Hur ships in a galley rowed in chains, to the rhythm of drums of his captors. Only the desire for revenge fuels his desire to live.
In 2016 the legacy of Ben-Hur is the result of several recontextualizations. The rhetorical impetus of the religious message of the original text of Lew Wallace is no longer current, difficult as it is the idea of ​​classic Hollywood blockbuster era of Marvel and DC blockbuster. The memory of businesses of Judah Ben-Hur looked delivered forever the memories of the Oscars, with the unparalleled record of 12 won statuettes, and those of the history of cinema and its technological evolution, marked indelibly by the spectacular sequence of the race of chariot. In 1959 actually implement the deadly duel between Ben-Hur and Messala meant not only the use of large and technologically advanced means, but the mobilization of a genuine army of workers: it was there that Hollywood measured its power.
The legacy of the climax of the action cinema has been collected from other contexts, from the pursuits of trucks in the Australian desert of the various Mad Max the race between gutters of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The film canon, in essence, remained alive without recourse to the literal remake. At least until 2016, when Timur Bekmambetov takes up the challenge with the mastodon by William Wyler and rewrites again the story of Judah Ben-Hur. Pointing in no uncertain terms to the side action, even attacking it right away. The beginning is indeed in medias res, with Judah and Messala ready to whip their horses, before they start the flashbacks and the story of the origins of Ben-Hur. An urgent need to challenge the Hollywood myth, which is felt as much in the script that hasty in martial directed and impersonal Kazakh filmmaker, who in the psychological hatch of the characters demonstrate the same enthusiasm expressed Ben-Hur in chains, when it does go the oars rhythmically of the drum. The initial long flashback is thus similar to a soap opera full of predictable micro-climax, in which the partial rewrite of the plot – Messala is now a foster brother of Ben-Hur who abandons the roof, the prince is home to one of the Zealots that threatens the life of Pilate, the Ilderim Sheikh becomes one of the main characters and motor redemption of Ben-Hur, etc. – It does not make the situation worse in terms of credibility and public interest.
The heart of the story is a story of Hollywood – revisited with the aesthetics of neo-Putin violence Bekmambetov (producer of films such as Henry) – of friendship, betrayal, revenge and mutual forgiveness. Where the “story of the Christ”, subtitle of Wyler film, it is increasingly a narrative nuisance, a task to be completed. From the visual characterization of the Messiah, who by a mysterious figure ever framed his face to become Wyler, scarcely credible in the role of Rodrigo Santoro, a handsome carpenter who dispenses wisdoms while planing a board. An ethical guide and comforting, which loosens some joints of the plot (heal the lepers, including the mother and sister of Ben-Hur, and push the latter towards the mercy) but remains substantially on the sidelines (more to the ethical dimensions that compared to sacral).
It is far superior to contrast the veneration shown by Bekmambetov for the chariot race, whose revival CGI does not disappoint, taking advantage of the new capabilities offered by technology. Kazakh director surprisingly limits the excesses, both in the sense that splatter exaggerated spectacle of pain, and can keep viewers glued to the last. Out of the challenge of Ben-Hur, however, he has completed the very meaning of the film, which goes wearily to an epilogue in which freedom than in previous adaptations abound and where the project appears to resize your profillo at every step. If surprising that Hollywood has not thought of before in a remake, surprisingly, finally for the remake was chosen such a low profile.
The only interesting topic that the script – one of the authors of the John Ridley 12 Years a Slave – proposes is the Roman Empire as a machine representation of excess, spending and earn huge amounts of capital to finance vice and extreme sports. A cruel death mechanism and power, which has its own weakness nell’insaziabile greed, lies and unhinged by the character of Ilderim, interpreted by the inevitable Morgan Freeman, security blanket of every blockbuster. The point of view of Ilderim, character mostly minor for Wyler, is totally post-capitalist and anti-historical but personal. Unfortunately it is also the only substance sketch, beneath the surface of a remake for the rest heavy, useless and unnecessarily noisy, destined to be quickly forgotten, like a bad dream.



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