LESSONS FROM A MOVIE – BEN HUR

Posted: August 21, 2016 in Uncategorized
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Several weeks ago I heard that the epic movie Benn Hur was being remade.  In fact this remake is the fifth version of the movie.  Last week the critics had their chance to review the movie and this is further proof that it is easier to be a critic than an author.  The critics have been less than kind to this remake.  I first saw Ben Hur as a child and even though it has been over half a century the movie was monumental at the time it was made and remains so today.  The “Ten Commandments” and other epic movies of that time brands a positive image on one’s psyche that lasts a lifetime.

The actual movie and the acting in the movie does not rank in there with the 1959 version.  In fact it is unfair to compare the two.   There is no way that a movie that starred great actors such as Charlton Heston and Steven Boyd and directed by William Wyler has a chance of a remake that usurped this epic.  The current movie’s acting is good and the use of new graphics was very effective; however, the original 1959 movie surpassed anything placed on the big screen.

What is lost in the discussion of the movie that is outside the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, outside the technical conversation of the cinematic aspects of the movie and outside the social media discussions of the beauty of actors and shallow comments on clothing and personal aspects of a cast member; this movie has lessons to be learned in a world of chaos.  It provides a message of hope and how we can ultimately find a life of coexistence among diverse cultures, religions and races.  This is the true story of Ben Hurt  that is lost in the grandeur of chariot races, epic sea battles and life in ancient Israel under Roman rule.  This is the message that producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett has provided for us.

Today our world is plagued with gaps between members of society that threaten the fiber of our great nation.  A nation based on tolerance of another man’s beliefs is being tested daily.  The movie Ben Hur gives us a glimpse of what can happen when tolerance can take place.

The movie begins with a Roman youngster that has been adopted by a Jewish family.  There are no preconceived conditions for the child living with the Jewish family and the Roman was allowed to follow his own pagan religion.  Later in the movie the head of the family, Ben Hur,  was forced to be a galley slave by the Romans.  His own step brother, the Roman, was instrumental in committing the Jew to the galleys.  This is the most despicable life among the Roman prisoners and never did anyone return from the oars of the Roman ships.  Ben Hur did become free only to be captured by an Arab tribe.  Centuries later this was the same group  that would become the Islamic faith.  The Jew, Ben Hur, became close friends with the Arab tribe and the tribal leader wagered most of his wealth to give Ben Hur a chance for freedom.  So we have Jews fighting Romans and Jews forming alliances with what would become Islam and then the Jew, Ben Hur, came face to face with Jesus and felt the love and forgiveness of a new religion.

As the movie ends the Jew Ben Hur reconciles with his pagan worshipping Roman step brother and they both live their lives with the Arab tribe.  Men of color lived with Caucasians.  Pagan worshippers shared a home with Jews and Arabs and all were influenced by a new religion, Christianity.

What was ultimately displayed in the movie was that forgiveness for past indiscretions and being tolerant of another man’s beliefs will allow mankind to thrive and grow.  What a powerful message to a nation that is looking to recreate itself when the old nation was so much better and what is happening to it today.

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