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National Science and Media Museum

Closing Night Film: Ben-Hur (PG)

Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Ben-Hur is a stunning epic of legendary proportions.

The grand epic of the avenging Israelite Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) and his stand against the might of the Roman Empire. Ben-Hur remains an icon of Hollywood’s Golden Age due to its pure spectacle, legendary scale and production values—as seen in the naval battle and chariot race scenes. Action sequences like these would be seen as unreasonable in modern filmmaking without the use of extensive CGI. For this reason, the film has no rival: it set a precedent for a brand of excitement that has become customary in the modern blockbuster.

In the 60 years since its release, the film has remained one of the most garlanded in Oscar history, winning 11 Academy Awards out of the 12 it was nominated for. Since then only two more films have managed to match this achievement: Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, both winning in categories that didn’t exist in 1959. This achievement stands as proof that Ben-Hur persists as the mark of quality against which all film can be measured—and that old-school Hollywood pageantry is hard to beat.

Introduction

This screening will be introduced by Sir Christopher Frayling.