On a day like this, April 4th 1960, the movie directed by William Wyler in 1959 was awarded 11 Oscars. It was nominated for 12 categories and the only one Ben Hur did not win was for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Let us tell you 11 things you might not know about the movie:
Ben-Hur had the largest budget (15,2 million dollars) and the largest sets built of any film produced a the time. Just for you to have an idea, the custome designer oversaw a staff of 100 wardrobe fabricators to make the costumes.
Talking about numbers… more than 200 camels and 2,500 horses were used to shoot the film… and more than 10.000 extras!!
You all know how the MGM movies starts, don’t you? Well, Willyer received permission to replace the traditional roaring with one in which Leo the Lion is quiet. The reason is that the director was concerned that a roaring Leo would creat the wrong mood for the sentitive and sacred nativity scene.
Wyler was promised a base salary of 350.000, as a base salary, the largest ever paid to a director for a single film as well as 8 percent of the gross box office or 3 percent of the net profits, whichever was greater.
The final script ran 230 pages, based on Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel. More than 12 versions of the script were written before the final one.
You all know Charlton Heston played the role of Judah Ben-Hur, the main character, but did you know Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Rock Hudson, and even Leslie Nielsen was offered the role? Kirk Douglas was also interested but was turned down in favor of Heston.
Jesus Christ plays an essential role on the movie, but we could never see his face. Wyler spent sleepless nithgt trying to find a way to deal with his figure, so he decided not to show his face.
Planning for the chariot race took nearly a year to complete. Charlton Heston had to learn how to drive a chariot, although he was an experienced horseman. He and Stephen Boyd, Messala, took daily three-hour lessons in chariot driving.
The running time is 212 minutes, 3 hours and 42 minutes. It was the third-longest motion picture ever made at the time, behind Gone With The Wind and The Ten Commandments.
Only Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King have matched the film’s wins. Titanic was nominated for 17 categories and the movie based on the Tolkien’s books was nominated for 11 categories… they hold the record for highest Oscar sweep.
February 14, 1971 was the first time Ben Hur was broadcasted on TV (CBS). It took five hours to end the movie, including commercials.
The question is not “Have you watched the movie?”, actually, it should be, how many times have you watched it?
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