Blu-ray Review “Ben-Hur 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition”

Directed by: William Wyler
Starring: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
MPAA Rating: G
Running time: 212 minutes

Overall Score: 5 out of 5 stars

“Ben-Hur” is such a classic film and it is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year. Warner Bros is giving this film the real ultimate collector’s edition. Not only it is packed with great content (which I will get to shortly), for this release, “Ben-Hur” has undergone a $1 million restoration. Warner Bros. performed a frame by frame restoration from the original 65 mm negative making this the highest resolution restoration ever completed by the studio. It is no joke and it really deserves the high praises. To get to the new goodies includes first we get an all-new high-definition feature-length documentary called “Charlton Heston: A Personal Journey”. This chronicles Heston’s life while filming Ben-Hur. The other new feature is called “Charlton Heston: The Ben-Hur Diaries”, which is a first-time exclusive look into an Oscar-winning actor’s experience while making an award-winning film. Along is those feature an actual reproduction of Charlton Heston’s personal diary is includes which dates from January 1958 through April 1960. There is also an exclusive hardbound book with rare photography, production art and reproductions from the original theatrical press book. Wow…right? So amazing!

The Blu-ray itself includes the movie split over two discs and features some really crisp and clear Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio. The special features on those discs are commentary by film historian T. Gene Hatcher with scene specific comments from Charlton Heston. There is also an amazing music-only track showing off the terrible memorable score by Miklos Rozsa. Disc three features “Charlton Heston: A Personal Journey”, which we talked about already. It runs about 80 minutes as well. There is the 1925 Silent Version of “Ben-Hur” includes. Next up is the 2005 documentary “Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema”, which shows Ben Hur’s influence on today’s films. Heading back another decade or so, we then have the 1994 Documentary “Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic Hosted by Christopher Plummer”. A very interesting extra is next called “Ben-Hur: A Journey Through Pictures” it is a travel through the film with stills, music and storyboards…very interesting. There are about 30 minutes of screen tests, which is fun to watch since it is aged 50 years. If you dig vintage, then you will love the old newsreels galleries from the film. Lastly there is highlights from the 1960 Academy Awards ceremony. Great extras on a wonderful Blu-ray release. This really earns the title of Ultimate Collector’s Edition.

Synopsis: Experience the visual splendor, thundering action and towering drama of this record-setting Academy Award-winning film. Charlton Heston, in his Best Actor Oscar-winning role, is Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman in Palestine whose heroic odyssey includes enslavement by the Romans, vengeance against his tormentors during a furious arena chariot race and fateful encounters with Jesus Christ. Best Director Oscar-winner William Wyler masterfully grips the reins of an enduring and spellbinding spectacular.

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