Ben-Hur is described as the “entertainment experience of a lifetime”, which is probably correct. Because at over three and a half hours long, you don’t have much lifetime left to try and top it. The movie even has an intermission, I guess because in 1959, there were laws about how long you could make an audience sit still and quiet in a cinema for. Luckily for Martin Scorsese and Peter Jackson, 2015 has no such laws.
I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this film. Everything about it is as epic as film-making gets. There are real extras, real sets … and shitloads of them. It’s sad that today’s movie-watching generation doesn’t get to see that so much. Instead, we’re subjected to revealing behind-the-scenes footage of Andy Serkis in front of a green screen, surrounded by green props, and wearing a green morphsuit with a GoPro attached to his every joint.
The chariot race sequence famously has a cutting ratio of 263-to-1. I’d love to be all funny and say I wish they’d adopted that kind of ruthless editing process for the entire film, but I can’t. Despite being the longest film I’ve ever seen – and hopefully the longest one on the Top 250 – there wasn’t a moment that I didn’t enjoy. Its length may make it unappealing to a modern audience, but it’s not the only thing that’s on a massive scale. Ben-Hur should definitely be higher than it currently is – I’d say top hundred.