Our family rarely goes to the theatre to watch movies, but we made our second visit to the local cinema within the last twelve months. The first was of course for Star Wars Episode VII. Our second time was last night to see Ben Hur.
Oh my goodness, we loved it! I’m really surprised by the negative reviews about it, especially how the Christianity was glossed over. While Christ is portrayed as peaceful and caring, I didn’t think it was inappropriate. The movie did a good job showing the historical context of the movie. Perhaps it’s from reading stories such as Tosca Lee’s Iscariot and listening to Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus, that I understood and enjoyed the historical aspects of the movie.
Perhaps it’s because my husband and I have only seen the original Ben Hur once and it was as adults in our mid-twenties. We don’t have fond family memories of the film being one of only four or five “acceptable” movies. While we like and respect Charlton Heston, we don’t hold him or the original movie on a pedestal.
For our family, Ben Hur was the kind of movie experience our family likes. My husband and I love history. I took in the details like the leather bed pillows and Messala’s Roman uniform. My son loves anything Roman, and our daughter loves Bible stories.
If you are taking your family, remember it’s PG-13. For our family that meant our son (11) was a bit uncomfortable with the previews (all action movies, no awkward sex scenes or anything like that). Our daughter (8) was a bit sensitive (and closed her eyes) to some of the violence in particular when Judah treats a zealot’s wound. Another thing is the movie has a lot of motion, and I see that there’s a 3D version. Normally, I’m the woman with an iron stomach. However, a combination of too much buttered popcorn and Coke left me queasy, and I had to close my eyes during several scenes, especially the slave ship and the chariot race. If you’re sensitive to motion in movies, that’s something to think about.
All in all, I have no reason to give the movie less than 5 stars. I’m basing this on knowing it’s a movie with Christian themes, shows that Christ is the reason the characters change, and that it’s the kind of movie we can take our school-aged children to and they enjoyed it. I’m not comparing it to the 1959 movie or the book, which I haven’t read. It was well-acted, dramatic, and had a positive message that points to Christ. And now I have an audio book version of Lew Wallace’s classic novel on hold at the library.