“Ben-Hur” illustrates the transformative power of love over hatred and redemption over revenge.
This film is the dramatic retelling of a classic tale that follows the life of Judah Ben-Hur, a prince of Israel, and his adopted brother Messala, a Roman whose real father plotted the overthrow of Caesar. The film begins with the brothers racing horses in the countryside. When Judah is thrown from his horse, Messala carries him to their home, and he is treated for his injuries. Shortly afterward, Messala leaves home and joins the Roman army to make a name for himself.
Time passes, and while Messala is becoming a great soldier of Rome, Judah shows his compassion to a young zealot who is injured — a gesture that ultimately causes his family to be imprisoned and Judah condemned to the galley of a ship as an oarsmen for five years. After a battle at sea with the Greeks, their ship is destroyed. Judah becomes free of his chains as he washes ashore, where a benevolent and wise nomad named Ilderim (Morgan Freeman) discovers him. With vengeance in his heart, Judah works with Ilderim to train on the nomad’s chariot with the hope of defeating his brother in the Chariot races in Jerusalem.
In several scenes, Judah comes into contact with Jesus and His disciples. Witnessing Christ on the cross forgive his captors, Judah grasps the meaning of true forgiveness. He then seeks out Messala, and the two former rivals finally embrace in the spirit of forgiveness and brotherhood.
This film features many battle scenes with death and destruction, due to the Roman’s oppression of the Jews. It also includes several severe injuries and deaths during the epic chariot races. We, therefore, award “Ben-Hur” the Dove “Faith-Based” Seal with a caution, due to the violent episodes throughout the film.