Ben-Hur

Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) is a Jewish prince in Jerusalem. He lives with his mother (Martha Scott) and sister Tirzah (Cathy O’Donnell), and has a good relationship with his slaves, including Simonides (Sam Jaffe) and his daughter Esther (Haya Harareet), whom it is obvious from the start will have some kind of romantic relationship with Ben, because she’s pretty. A childhood friend of Ben’s, Messala (Stephen Boyd) has returned home to be the new commander of the town, and wants Ben’s help to get the rebelling Jewish faction in line. Ben-Hur chooses his faith and his people’s freedom over his former friendship, so he and Messala become enemies. When Tirzah accidentally knocks some loose roof tiles and injures Judea’s new governor, she, Ben-Hur and their mother are locked up. Ben works on the slave ships, whilst his family are imprisoned in the dungeons. He then devotes his life to finding his way back to free his family, and enact his vengeance upon Messala.
family Continue reading

Great Expectations

Dickens is my favourite writer of whose work I’ve read very little, and remember even less. I’m going to put that down to his being the West Wing character Sam Seaborn’s favourite writer, and because what I can remember is exquisite. I’m attempting to correct this literary oversight by reading the complete works of Dickens, however I’ve had David Copperfield sat in my bookcase for a few months now and have yet to even slide the book from its old fashioned cardboard sleeve and leaf through the hair’s breadth pages. This is not for want of trying, it just seems that another book will jump out at me sooner, or an issue of Empire will be posted through my door (I’ve recently ended my subscription to Total Film for this very reason, for two film magazines and my girlfriends insistence that I subscribe to Esquire leaves precious little time for reading anything else before the next month’s batch comes through the letterbox). If anything, Great Expectations has inspired me to pursue my Dickensian endeavours ever further, with its rich characters, superb storytelling and above all marvellous dialogue, taken directly from the pages written 150 years ago.
The first Dickens adaptation of director David Lean, followed by Oliver Twist 2 years later, bizarrely absent from the list, the film does have its flaws. A 38 year old John Mills was far too old to portrayal the youthful 20-year old Philip ‘Pip’ Pirrip, with the wrinkles in his forehead too far engrained to be concealed, and Alec Guinness, as his roommate Mr. Pocket, always looked better fighting with a light sabre than with a boxing gloves. Other than this, Lean directed wisely by remaining true to the book, a tactic that would make this a must see if directed by anyone.
Choose film 8/10