Ben Hur (2016) is a terribly clumsy effort at promoting the Christian message of love. Its main flaw being it does so way too loudly.
I watched Ben Hur (1959) over twenty years ago and I was impressed. This, despite Charlton Heston’s compulsion to overact and the way dragged-out script.
What “moved” me, so to speak, was how skilfully the message of Christ was interwoven into the story. Additionally, Christ, the actual key character, was almost enigmatic in the 1959 version.
The latter, to me, had a profound effect on the underlying message of love and salvation, even though I didn’t fully understand it until many years later. Short of it, it was a perfect example of how lesser is often best in storytelling. How a subdued touch is often the most effective in communicating a message best experienced than told.
Sadly, this masterly touch is lost in Ben Hur (2016). The remake felt almost desperate that you do NOT forget Jesus’ message for mankind, with reminders about love and forgiveness popping up at every opportunity.
Making it worse was how the main story was notably sacrificed to allow for this incessant emphasis. Too many characters went through inexplicable personalities transitions without adequate elaboration. You’re expected to understand right away, in other words.
To me, these switches hardly expound the life-changing ministry of Jesus Christ; instead, it encourages scepticism. To give an example, I would have much preferred more detailed crafting of Messala’s character changes. His switch in disposition felt so abrupt at times. Frankly, at times, he came across as being borderline psychotic.
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