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"Ben-Hur", 1925 vs. '59?


mr6666
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I actually prefer the older silent version. The sea battle and chariot scenes were much more exciting. There seemed to be more back-story exposition and there were more biblical scenes included, making "...A Tale of the Christ" seem more appropriate. Navarro did pretty well, though Heston seemed more physically fitting. Some scene for scene re-shoots were remarkably similar (as mentioned in the priest/rabbi discussion often aired). Boyd & Bushman were both kind of hammy, but Boyd seemed more realistic, where Bushman seemed more hysterically psychotic.

Any thoughts??

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The part of the picture that no one is mentioning here is the Nativity. I personally feel that it is much more impressive in the Silent version. Likewise, the manifestation of the Star of Bethlehem seems considerably more awe inspiring in the 1925 original. There really is no comparison. And difficult to match the exquisite ethereal beauty of Betty Bronson as the Blessed Mother. Perhaps the most stunning Virgin Mary ever depicted on screen.

 

In 1925, BEN HUR was screened live with Orchestra's playing the William Axt-David Menoza score. I have not heard it myself, but my friend Jack Theakston has. He actually prefers the Axt-Mendoza score to the Carl Davis one. So it must be extremely imposing.

 

Incidentally, I watched BEN HUR (1925) last week. I did not record it because I had the previous DVD extra released in 2005. I didn't expect anything different this time around. However, at least several portions of this clearly looked much better than I have ever seen it look before on Television. I wondered it is couldn't have been partly re-mastered for the new Blu-ray extra but as a DVD release? Can someone shed a light on this matter? Thanks?

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I prefer the '59 version, probably partly because I grew up watching this one. I'll admit I sometimes have a hard time watching silent movies and found some of the acting overdone in the '25 version, so this is probably another factor. One thing I love about the '59 version is how Wyler portrays Jesus. We understand Jesus' magnificence by other's reactions to him.

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{font:Arial}One area where the 1959 version has an advantage is the cleansing of Judah's Mother and Sister from their leprosy. The rains carry the blood or Christ to where they are hiding and the Woman are healed of there affliction. Where as in the Silent version they are made well during Jesus march to Calvary So a very different and in this case more powerful treatment in the remake. On the other hand, I think the Battle at Se is superior in the Silent version.

Another area where the 1925 film sadly fails is the build-up to Ben Hur returning to Antioch confronting Simondies, reuniting with Esther, agreeing to be the Sheiks driver against Massalla. Next we have the Carmel Myers trying to seduce him, Esther revealed as a Slave, yadda, yadda. And the title-cards insist all this could happen in one day? Not hardly! Disappointed in that part. I can see these events taking place maybe over a weeks time, but not just a single day prior to the races.
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  • 1 year later...

I was wondering if last year's Blu Ray release of the 1959 version had changed anyone's opinion. There are details and colors that were never clear before, even in the last DVD. This film provides an excuse to anyone who wants to switch formats. The picture is nothing less than stunning. By the way, the 1925 version is included.

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I resisted upgrading to blue ray for quite a long time because I have an extensive DVD collection, but when I saw the difference between the two formats, I had to selectively replace the DVDs.

You absolutely can watch DVDs on a blue ray player, but you really require a good widescreen TV to enjoy the best picture.

The best blues I have seen are "Ben Hur", Lawrence of Arabia", "Zulu" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". As a bonus, they all have extra features never on any format.

If you love films and can afford it, I'd give it a try.

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