MGM working on ‘Ben-Hur’ remake

By Daniel S Levine,

Hollywood’s latest attempt to reinvent the wheel will be a remake of the classic 1959 film Ben-Hur, which was directed by William Wyler and starred Charlton Heston as the title character.

Ben-Hur stars Heston as Judah Ben-Hur, the Jewish prince who becomes a slave after the Romans take over Judea. Although Jesus Christ plays a small role in the film and his crucifixion is a key part of the film’s climax, it really centers on the relationship between Judah and Messala, who Judah races in an intense chariot race. The race remains one of the most influential action sequences in film history.

Now that MGM is out of bankruptcy and just had a hit with Skyfall, the studio is looking to remake the property, which is based on Gen. Lew Wallace’s novel. Even though the studio’s ‘59 film and the 1925 silent film are both owned by Ted Turner, the novel is in public domain.

According to Deadline, the new film will still focus on Messala and Judah’s relationship, but the parallel story of Christ will take a bigger role in the new version. Sean Daniel and Joni Levin will produce the new version, with writer Keith Clarke and Jason Brown as executive producers.

This is just one of several religious-themed projects in the works at Hollywood. Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott are working on Moses films, while Brad Pitt is slated to star in Pontius Pilate. Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is also in post-production and is set for release next year.

By the way, the 1959 Ben-Hur won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.

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