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Timur Bekmambetov may set some chariots on fire with MGM's Ben-Hur remake

08.19.2013

BEN-HUR, the classic Charlton Heston epic from 1959 that was the first film to win 11 Academy Awards, is ready for the remake treatment. But, MGM has been having a hell of a time trying to find someone to take over the massive project. Like CASABLANCA, remaking BEN-HUR strikes many as a fool's errand despite the 1959 version serving as a remake of the 1925 silent film, based on the 1880 novel. With multiple versions released since, including a 2010 mini-series, MGM hopes this new take will be the big budget epic to rival the Oscar-winning classic.

According to Deadline, the man for the directing job may be Timur Bekmambetov. Bekmambetov recently directed ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, but is best known for the Angelina Jolie/James McAvoy action movie WANTED as well as NIGHT WATCH and DAY WATCH. His unique visual style has certainly played well in his directorial efforts so far, but I was left feeling that it didn't quite work with ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER as compared to a contemporary setting.

This take on BEN-HUR was scripted by Keith Clarke (THE WAY BACK) and supposedly stays closer to the source novel than the 1959 film did:

This film will tell the formative story of the characters as they grew up best friends before the Roman Empire took control of Jerusalem. Judah Ben-Hur was a Jewish prince and Messala the son of a Roman tax collector. After the latter leaves to be educated in Rome for five years, the young man returns with a different attitude. Messala mocks Judah and his religion and when a procession passes by Judah’s house and a roof tile accidentally falls and hits the governor, Messala betrays his childhood friend and manipulates it so that Judah is sold into slavery and certain death on a Roman warship, with his mother and sister thrown in prison for life. Judah doesn’t die, and vows revenge on Messala which, like in the films, culminates in the famed chariot races. There is another way the script differs from the movie, in that it will tell the parallel tale of Jesus Christ, with whom Ben-Hur has several encounters which moves him to become a believer in the Messiah, and which culminates in Christ being sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate. Intertwined in all this is the lifelong struggle between Ben-Hur and Messala.

With Darren Aronofsky's NOAH on the horizon, the Biblical epic appears to be a hot commodity once again. If handled properly, BEN-HUR doesn't have to be as polarizing as THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and can be encompassing of all audiences, religious and secular. The Charlton Heston version, like THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, seems to circumvent being a religious film and is instead looked at as an epic drama. Bekmambetov would certainly bring something extra to the famed chariot sequences. What remains to be seen is if he can get quality performances from the cast as well.

Source: Deadline

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4:24AM on 08/21/2013

Jesus

Hasn't Hollywood realized that this guy is terrible yet? There's no need for slow motion nonsense or using horses as weapons in Ben-Hur, how can this guy possible want to make this.
Hasn't Hollywood realized that this guy is terrible yet? There's no need for slow motion nonsense or using horses as weapons in Ben-Hur, how can this guy possible want to make this.
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1:23PM on 08/20/2013

No

No no no no. No. NO.
No no no no. No. NO.
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8:29AM on 08/20/2013
So they want to remake an 11 Academy Awards winning classic and they're going with the guy that did Abraham Lincoln vampire hunter.
Brilliant idea MGM, you deserve to go bankrupt this time, just don't take 007 with you.
So they want to remake an 11 Academy Awards winning classic and they're going with the guy that did Abraham Lincoln vampire hunter.
Brilliant idea MGM, you deserve to go bankrupt this time, just don't take 007 with you.
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8:26AM on 08/20/2013

Ben-Hur remake?

C'MON HOLLYWOOD!!!!!!!
C'MON HOLLYWOOD!!!!!!!
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2:54AM on 08/20/2013

Timur?

Was McG unavailable?
Was McG unavailable?
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12:26AM on 08/20/2013

Great comments

Terrible idea but we got some great comments from @Jedd the Jedi, @studboi69 and @miguel_montes.
Terrible idea but we got some great comments from @Jedd the Jedi, @studboi69 and @miguel_montes.
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10:14PM on 08/19/2013
The chariot, being driven by Angelina Jolie, needs to swerve just right so that James McAvoy can hop on in.
The chariot, being driven by Angelina Jolie, needs to swerve just right so that James McAvoy can hop on in.
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8:21PM on 08/19/2013
Oh shame where is thy blush?
Oh shame where is thy blush?
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8:10PM on 08/19/2013
I shake my head in disgust...I know its too much to ask Hollywood to come up with an original idea...but remaking Ben-Hur is a movie mistake. Unless you hire a really good quality director, the remake will fail in many ways. Right off the bat, I can tell you the scenes wont have the realistic quality, the lines will be cheap, there might be a un-needed love scene, there will be un-needed and over the top action scenes....
Of all the thousands of cheap, un poplar movies out there , that
I shake my head in disgust...I know its too much to ask Hollywood to come up with an original idea...but remaking Ben-Hur is a movie mistake. Unless you hire a really good quality director, the remake will fail in many ways. Right off the bat, I can tell you the scenes wont have the realistic quality, the lines will be cheap, there might be a un-needed love scene, there will be un-needed and over the top action scenes....
Of all the thousands of cheap, un poplar movies out there , that could easily be remade, Hollywood decides to pick movies that movie fans hold dear to their hearts, ruin the original movie's appeal.
I would rather see BEN-HUR be left alone.
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7:01PM on 08/19/2013

Hmm...

I'd be down with him making a movie about chariot racing more along the lines of something like 300 but I don't think he could pull off a big budget epic like Ben Hur. They don't need to shit on the name of one of the all-time classics like this.
I'd be down with him making a movie about chariot racing more along the lines of something like 300 but I don't think he could pull off a big budget epic like Ben Hur. They don't need to shit on the name of one of the all-time classics like this.
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7:00PM on 08/19/2013
This is one of those ideas where you laugh hysterically when you hear it because its so damn stupid
This is one of those ideas where you laugh hysterically when you hear it because its so damn stupid
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5:39PM on 08/19/2013
No....
No....
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5:33PM on 08/19/2013

Please Don't

OH WHY WHY WHY!!! I don't think anyone on this planet wants this movie to happen.
OH WHY WHY WHY!!! I don't think anyone on this planet wants this movie to happen.
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4:56PM on 08/19/2013
I'm guessing there will be a scene in which Ben Hur jumps from his chariot of flaming horses to another chariot, all while curving a crossbolt towards the opposing rider, while yelling "FUCK YOU". All in slow-motion 3D glory of course.
I'm guessing there will be a scene in which Ben Hur jumps from his chariot of flaming horses to another chariot, all while curving a crossbolt towards the opposing rider, while yelling "FUCK YOU". All in slow-motion 3D glory of course.
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4:44PM on 08/19/2013
Its hard to imagine anything topping the Heston/Wyler version. It only takes about two minutes to pull you in at any point in the film. And the ship battles and chariot scene on top of that make it a tough one to beat...
Its hard to imagine anything topping the Heston/Wyler version. It only takes about two minutes to pull you in at any point in the film. And the ship battles and chariot scene on top of that make it a tough one to beat...
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4:20PM on 08/19/2013

Um, no

I'd be happy with Spielberg, Abrams, Bird but not Bekmambetov. He has great visuals but he can't tell a story worth a damn.
I'd be happy with Spielberg, Abrams, Bird but not Bekmambetov. He has great visuals but he can't tell a story worth a damn.
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4:11PM on 08/19/2013
Bullet-time chariot races. In 3D. Let that sink in for a while...
Bullet-time chariot races. In 3D. Let that sink in for a while...
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