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 deeply impressed. This so, despite Charlton Heston’s tendency to overact and the dragged out script. What “moved” me, so to speak, was how skilfully the message of Christ was interwoven into the story. Christ, the actual key character, was almost enigmatic in the 1959 version. This had a profound effect on the underlying message of love and salvation. It was a perfect example of how lesser is often more in storytelling. It was also concrete proof of subdued touches being the most effective in conveying a storyteller’s message.
This subtlety is entirely lost in Ben Hur (2016). The remake feels almost desperate that you do not forget Christ’s message for mankind, with reminders about love and forgiveness springing up at every corner. Making it worse was how the main story was noticeably compromised to allow for this emphasis. So many characters went through inexplicable personality transitions without adequate elaboration. For me, this hardly expounds the life-changing ministry of Jesus Christ. Instead, it encourages scepticism. For example, I would have much preferred more careful crafting of Messala’s personality transitions. His switches in worldviews felt so abrupt at times. Frequently, to the extent of being psychotic.
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