The chariot race from 1959’s Oscar-winning film Ben-Hur is widely considered one of the greatest sequences in cinema history, and it’s expected to be a major element in the upcoming film based on the famous story of Judah Ben-Hur.
Paramount Pictures has posted a behind-the-scenes video that focuses on the new film’s chariot sequence, and reveals just how close to reality — and injury — the movie took things in an effort to live up to the expectations set by its 1959 predecessor.
Directed by Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov, Ben-Hur is the latest big-screen adaptation of Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The story follows a former prince who’s falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother and forced into slavery by the Roman Empire. After escaping, he returns home years later on a quest for vengeance.
The new film features American Hustle actor Jack Huston as Judah Ben-Hur and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes actor Toby Kebbell as Messala, his adopted brother. Homeland actress Nazanin Boniadi plays Judah’s wife. Morgan Freeman, Rodrigo Santoro, Ayelet Zorer, and Sofia Black-D’Elia also play supporting roles in the film.
Wallace’s story has been adapted for the big screen three times in the past, and twice as a feature-length film. It was first adapted as a 15-minute silent film in 1907, then again as a feature-length silent film epic (over two hours long) in 1925. The subsequent 1959 film starred Charlton Heston in the lead role and won 11 Academy Awards, including the “Best Picture” award.
Ben-Hur is scheduled to hit theaters August 19.