This trailer for an action remake of Ben-Hur may at first seem incongruous to audiences familiar with William Wyler’s Oscar-winning 1959 version. That film may be spoken of in hushed, reverent tones today, but it too was an action spectacle, boasting a massive chariot race sequence that took a year’s worth of planning and cost $1 million to shoot. Wyler obviously didn’t have access to the CGI you’ll find splashed across this trailer, but his team did employ enough onscreen trickery to nab themselves an Academy Award for Best Special Effects.
Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ has now been adapted for the big screen five times since 1907, and every one of those adaptations has been an attempt at spectacle. So, while the newest one, directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) might look like a preview of an upcoming season of Spartacus: Blood And Sand, it’s actually very much in keeping with tradition.
The story follows Judah Ben-Hur (Boardwalk Empire’s Jack Huston), a Jewish prince who is betrayed by his brother (Fantastic Four’s Toby Kebbell) and consigned into slavery. After surviving a shipwreck, he gets trained as charioteer by a dreadlocked Morgan Freeman and eventually goes chariot-to-chariot against his brother in the arena. Somewhere in there, he meets Jesus of Nazareth and finds redemption, but that shouldn’t be too much of a distraction from all the blood and carnage.
Ben-Hur will come roaring into theaters on August 12, 2016.