Director: William Wyler

Cast: Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins

This winner of 11 Academy Awards is presented in widescreen anamorphic with an uncommon but well-suited aspect ratio of 2.76:1. Given its lengthy running time, the film has been divided onto two sides of a single disc with the flip occurring (thankfully) during the "Intermission" break. The transfer itself has few flaws, but the actual print shows countless signs of


This winner of 11 Academy Awards is presented in widescreen anamorphic with an uncommon but well-suited aspect ratio of 2.76:1. Given its lengthy running time, the film has been divided onto two sides of a single disc with the flip occurring (thankfully) during the "Intermission" break. The transfer itself has few flaws, but the actual print shows countless signs of age, including color loss and grain. The audio is in English (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround) and French (Dolby Digital 2.0) with English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. Special features include a "Cast and Crew" section that is a mere film credit listing (no bios). An audio commentary track is provided by Charlton Heston and, though repetitive, it is an invaluable source of great stories and his own unique viewpoints. The track does not cover the entire length of the film, so the disc has a special, built-in "fast forward" feature which links the commentary sections together. Unfortunately, the language subtitle feature cannot be deployed during the commentary. Side B of the disc features additional extras, including an hour-long documentary entitled "Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic." This excellent piece examines the entire history of Ben-Hur, from the initial novel to early theatrical productions and up to the film adaptations. Side B also includes a seven-minute "Screen Test" section which features actors Leslie Nelson and Cesare Danova in the roles of Ben-Hur and Messala, as well as a one-minute silent film of actress Haya Harareet that looks to be a makeup and wardrobe test. Rounding out the special features is a rather barren photo gallery with ten stills and illustrations, plus a theatrical teaser and trailer and an awards list. This disc does not match its subject's epic stature, but it's worthwhile viewing nonetheless.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
After more than 40 years, one of the few biblical epics that doesn’t sacrifice humanity for spectacle, Ben-Hur -- an international box-office smash of legendary proportions and the winner of a then-unprecedented 11 Academy Awards -- still retains its power to enthrall viewers. This third movie adaptation of Lew Wallace’s bestselling novel provided Charlton Heston with perhaps his most memorable role: proud Jewish aristocrat Judah Ben-Hur, falsely accused of a crime and sold into slavery, later to confront his Roman enemies and have his life transformed by contact with Jesus Christ. Director William Wyler (Best Years of Our Lives) ensured success by surrounding himself with some of the industry’s greatest artisans, many of them rewarded with Oscars for their contributions to this flawlessly produced movie. Technical perfection aside, Wyler rated his Best Director Oscar for his superb handling of a fine cast including Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd, Haya Harareet, and Sam Jaffe. But Ben-Hur’s undisputed highlight remains the climactic, breathtaking chariot race, for which Heston and Boyd did most of their own stunt work. That race, and the film’s other spectacular sequences, can now be fully appreciated by home viewers in the newly mastered, wide-screen DVD edition, which augments the film with an illuminating commentary by Heston. Other extras include a documentary on the production ("The Making of an Epic"), a gallery of stills, a theatrical trailer, and recently discovered screen tests.
New York Times - Dave Kehr
By hiring William Wyler...MGM hoped to restore some dignity to a genre that had known its greatest triumphs thanks to the enthusiastic vulgarity of Alessandro Blasetti and the inimitable Cecil B. DeMille. The magnificently produced four-disc version of "Ben-Hur" ... ably advances that claim to respectability. It's an exhaustive, almost scholarly textural compendium, with a gorgeous, crisply detailed new two-disc transfer of the 1959 film.

Product Details

Release Date:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
[Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]

Special Features

DVD includes feature-length audio commentary by Charlton Heston; a documentary, "Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic;" screen tests; a photo gallery; and cast and director career highlights.

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Charlton Heston Judah Ben Hur
Stephen Boyd Messala
Jack Hawkins Quintus Arrius
Haya Harareet Esther
Hugh Griffith Sheik Ilderim
Sam Jaffe Simonides
Martha Scott Miriam
Cathy O'Donnell Tirzah
Finlay Currie Balthasar
Frank Thring Pontius Pilate
Terence Longdon Drusus
Andre Morell Sextus
Marina Berti Flavia
George Relph Tiberius
Adi Berber Malluch
Stella Vitelleschi Amrah
Jose Greci Mary
Laurence Payne Joseph
John Horsley Spintho
Richard Coleman Metellus
Duncan Lamont Marius
Ralph Truman Aide to Tiberius
Richard Hale Gaspar
David Davies Quaestor
Dervis Ward Jailer
Mino Doro Gratus
Robert Brown Chief of Rowers
Maxwell Shaw Rower No. 43
Emilio Carrer Rower No. 28
Tutte Lemkow Leper
Howard Lang Hortator
John Le Mesurier Doctor
Stevenson Lang Blind Man
Hector Ross Officer
Al Silvani Man in Nazareth
Enzo Fiermonte Galley Officer
Tiberio Mitri Roman at Bath
Pietro Tordi Pilate's Servant
Jerry Brown The Corinthian
Cliff Lyons Lublon
Joe Yrigoyen Egyptian
Joe Canutt Sportsman
Michael Dugan Seaman
John Glen Rower No. 42
Ferdinand "Ferdy" Mayne Captain of Rescue Ship
Reginald Lal Singh Melchior
Karl Tunberg Actor
Raimondo Van Riel Old Man

Technical Credits
William Wyler Director
Edward C. Carfagno Production Designer
John D. Dunning Editor
Arnold A. Gillespie Special Effects
Elizabeth Haffenden Costumes/Costume Designer
William Horning Art Director
Robert MacDonald Special Effects
Andrew Marton Asst. Director
Miklós Rózsa Score Composer
Robert Surtees Cinematographer
Karl Tunberg Screenwriter
Ralph Winters Editor
Sam Zimbalist Producer
Gore Vidal Source Author

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Side A: Ben-Hur: Part One
1. Overture
2. Nativity Prologue
3. Credits
4. March Through Nazareth
5. Messala in Command
6. Fighting An Idea
7. Still Close in Every Way
8. A Toast
9. Gifts Exchanged
10. Judah's Choice
11. Esther's Request
12. A Ring for A Kiss
13. March into Jerusalem
14. The Accident
15. Jailbreak Attempt
16. Making an Example
17. Bondage
18. Water From A Stranger
19. Quintus Arrius
20. Ramming Speed
21. Strange, Stubborn Faith
22. Sea Battle Begins
23. Galley Rescues
24. Saving Arrius
25. Victory
26. The Divine Emperor
27. A Son of Arrius
28. Thinking of Judea
29. Balthazar and Ilderim
30. Arabians Night
31. Many Paths to God
32. Homecoming
33. Survivors Reunited
34. "We Stood Here Before"
35. Confronting Messala
36. Finding Miriam and Tirzah
37. Vow in the Darkness
38. "Forget Messala"
39. Intermission
Side #2 -- Side B: Ben-Hur: Part Two
40. Entr'Acte
41. A Wager
42. Chariot Practice
43. "This Is the Day"
44. Chariot Procession
45. The Entrants
46. Early Eliminations
47. Neck and Neck
48. Fallen Driver
49. Judah Triumphant
50. The Race Goes On
51. Valley of the Lepers
52. "Is Judah Well?"
53. Thirsty Still
54. "I Am Judah Ben-Hur"
55. Becoming Messala
56. Recovering Miriam and Tirzah
57. The Young Rabbi Sentenced
58. An Offer of Water
59. The Crucifixion
60. Cleansing Rain
61. "Hallelujah!"

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