Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

Director: Fred Niblo
Starring: Ramon Navarro, Francis X Bushman, Mary McAvoy

A Jewish prince falsely accused of murder and sentenced to serve as a galley slave plots revenge on the former friend who condemned him.

The '59 version of the story is the better known, but I was curious to see how it was done in the Silent Era. I originally underestimated what filmmakers were doing in the 20s, but I've been watching enough silent films lately to be less surprised at the scope of some of these major productions. That doesn't make it any less impressive, mind. This is a big production with lavish sets and costuming. The naval battle and chariot race are no less impressive here than the later version. Of some interest, compared to the '59 version, Christ features more prominently with Nativity scenes and such but is nevertheless on the periphery to keep the focus on Judah. If you've seen the '59 version and liked it or if you want to see a big-scale film of the 20s, this is definitely worth checking out.

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