Ben-Hur - 3 disc Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

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Reviewed by Alan Paterson, 1st October 2011.


The multi Oscar winning epic ‘Ben-Hur’ thunders on to UK Region free Blu-ray in a fully restored 3-disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition with a stunning 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed in its original extremely wide 2.76:1 aspect ratio. The image has great clarity combined with amazing detail and strong colour throughout. Film grain is hardly visible yet it retains a truly cinematic feel. It’s a ‘wow’!

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix is no less impressive with clear dialogue and a very full bodied representation of Miklos Rozsa’s triumphant score, combined with an immersive experience to please the ears.

Chariot loads of extras include an interesting commentary from film historian T. Gene Hatcher with inserts from Charlton Heston, an all new documentary on Chuck Heston the family man and more bonus materials than you could shake a Roman spear at.

Charlton Heston gives an Oscar winning performance as Judah Ben-Hur who is enslaved in the galleys by former childhood friend Messala, saves a Roman Consul from drowning, then becomes champion charioteer – before seeking revenge.

One for every film collector.


Read the full review...
 

bosque

Novice Member
Good review ! As epic as Ben-Hur is, I really liked the scene near the end in the leper's cave at night: Esther is seen in profile at the far right of the screen and the whole of the rest of the image (of a very widescreen image) is in darkness. This seemd an imaginative use of the screen for something which is usually remembered for its bombastic action. That's not to play down the action, the chariot race is still as exciting now as (I imagine :)) it was when it was first seen.
 

DrGekko

Well-known Member
Great review, really looking forward to watching this. Out of interest, what criteria did you use to score audio 10 out of 10? Usually high scoring audio titles are usually brilliant for demo purposes but I can't imagine using this title for that, compared to the likes of Tron, Star Wars Prequels or Saving Private Ryan.
 

Alan Paterson

Active Member
The answer's really in my review. This mix will give a modern blockbuster a run for its money. The clarity, detail and sheer richness of the sound quality just makes you smile. You can't help it!
Have a listen and see if you agree. If not, then that's your opinion and you have every right to hold it.
Alan
 

golden phoenix

Distinguished Member
alan thanks for the review, believe it or not i have never seen ben hur all the way through, and always switch on for the chariot race...

based on this excellent review and edition on bluray, ive decided to treat myself and make a purchase and watch the movie in style.

thanks again
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
Alan I have to agree with you on the image quality....utterly gobsmacking. 10 for audio though? I needed to check if it was April 1st as there is utterly no way this is a 10. It may be "good" for its age, but as good or better than Gladiator or Saving Private Ryan, or Master & Commander? The sound appraisal needs to be kept in perspective with the 00s of amazing soundtracks out there imho :smashin:
 

Alan Paterson

Active Member
Smurfin,
I was pleased to see that you added 'IMHO' to your comments.
Alan
 

kbfern

Distinguished Member
Watched the first disc today all 2hr 27mins and the image quality is stunning for it's age.The colours are so rich and Captain Bains banging out the beats on his drum brought back memories of the Onedin line,what a nostalgic afternoon it was.

Second disc will be on after diner tonight!!!
 

Garrett

Moderator
I watched the film over 2 nights with the spit at the film intermission.
It cannot be classed as an action film as in the near 4 hours there is realy only 2 action bits in it of short duration. The film is more based on characters and every actor does a marvellous job I even thought Frank Thring's Pilate is quite good ( seemed to get slimy characters Herod in King of Kings and El Kader in El Cid although in Hur distinguishes his personal feeling from what he has to do when he represents Rome). And to agree with a forum review though Stephen Boyd should have been up for an award, and don't think there is one bad performance in the film. The sets are like the film truly epic and makes you think, the film cost as little to make as a some stars demand to make a film today.
I would not sat the film quality is up to to today's but for its age very good although there were a couple of things wrong well one could have been put in deliberately. First one is at about 1hour 17min when it looks a some frames are missing and the picture all of a sudden a character jumps about 1 foot nearer. Also it did seem deliberate that the wanted to hide Christ face but where they show Christ with to others being convicted the other two you can make out minor detail but where Christ is it looks like scribbled his head out with a magic marker or what ever the equivalent they had back then. If it was suppose to be a shadow there nothing to support what causing the shadow.
Of this and El Cid I still prefer El Cid but the film is a real treat to watch.

Score for being what it says on the box 10/10
My personal enjoyment of the film 9/10


P.S. yes I spotted Captain Bains from The Onedin Line I just wondered how the heck the hammer beater would be able to for very long periods.
 

Geoff_D

Distinguished Member
Those editing/PQ blips you mentioned have been there for as long as I can remember.

In any case, the Blu-ray looks PHENOMENAL and I love the film.
 

Garrett

Moderator
Well one seems like some frame damage was removed but the on where Jesus's face is removed seems deliberate as all the way though the film when he is on screen apart from sentencing scene he is always shown facing away from the camera, so seems like some editing desision and with the sharpness of the picture is noticeable.
 

captainarchive

Distinguished Member
I've always thought not showing jesus' face clearly and sharply was deliberate. It fits with the story as it's about Ben Hur ann having Jesus apear in cameo would be jarring.
 

Garrett

Moderator
I've always thought not showing jesus' face clearly and sharply was deliberate. It fits with the story as it's about Ben Hur ann having Jesus apear in cameo would be jarring.
Two points.
The film opens whith them saying its the story of Christ(although we know its realy the story of Ben Hur), and Jesus does play a part in the film.
"Jesus takes more than a cameo role, he's mentioned a few times in the film, gives Ben Hur water, humbles a nasty Roman, has the sermon on the mount, there his is trial and Ben Hur giving him water and his crusifiction and taking of mankind's sins. "
I have no problem with them not showing his face the point I was making is the scene at the trail you can see the face of the convicts either side albeit at a distance but where Jesus face it is scrubbed out very badly.

Let you give you an example sort of thing I'm on about albeit not from the film.

I dont know if they damage the original print but if the technology was there I would have stuck a post in somewhere and had the shadow fall across his face if that was the intention or just used some form of blurring for all 3 faces as it was at a distance you would think that part was out of focus.
3....jpg
 
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kbfern

Distinguished Member
I always thought it started with "A" story of Christ rather than "The" a subtle but a definite difference.:)
 

Geoff_D

Distinguished Member
Two points.
The film opens whith them saying its the story of Christ(although we know its realy the story of Ben Hur), and Jesus does play a part in the film.
"Jesus takes more than a cameo role, he's mentioned a few times in the film, gives Ben Hur water, humbles a nasty Roman, has the sermon on the mount, there his is trial and Ben Hur giving him water and his crusifiction and taking of mankind's sins. "
I have no problem with them not showing his face the point I was making is the scene at the trail you can see the face of the convicts either side albeit at a distance but where Jesus face it is scrubbed out very badly.

Let you give you an example sort of thing I'm on about albeit not from the film.

I dont know if they damage the original print but if the technology was there I would have stuck a post in somewhere and had the shadow fall across his face if that was the intention or just used some form of blurring for all 3 faces as it was at a distance you would think that part was out of focus.
View attachment 573351
It's always been there Garrett. They did it because they didn't want to show his face, and without the benefit of today's tech that's about as best as they could do. I wouldn't want them to change it now either because the filmmakers are long dead, and sticking a post in front of Jesus would be George Lucas territory. It's a bodge but it's a small moment in an otherwise magnificent film.
 

Garrett

Moderator
I always thought it started with "A" story of Christ rather than "The" a subtle but a definite difference.:)
Yes a mistake I did not even start with "The" but "the", often what I think is not always what I type and have to edit my own post. And the point was Jesus was not a cameo, like Stan Lee or Hichcock but sort of an integral part of the film.
What's more, it seems more silly not to show his face as it was at a distance and you could not have made out the actor but settled for something I personalty found obliviously wrong.
By the way I did not say a post in front of Jesus but a post that cast a shadow, if the scratch out face its on the original print ok it does look very bodged, but if its clear I though they would have done something seeing they say they gone though everything frame by frame.
 

Geoff_D

Distinguished Member
They do go through everything frame by frame to correct scratches, warping, tears and dirt, but Warners left that bit alone because changing an actual 'effect' (crude as it may be) to something else without the filmmaker's consent is opening up Pandora's revisionist Box.
 

Garrett

Moderator
They do go through everything frame by frame to correct scratches, warping, tears and dirt, but Warners left that bit alone because changing an actual 'effect' (crude as it may be) to something else without the filmmaker's consent is opening up Pandora's revisionist Box.
What ever and how ever very cack handed it was I stick buy my original post.
 

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