The Art of Cinema #36


Ben-Hur: A Tale of The Christ
(Fred Niblo; 1926)

2 comments:

Rob said...

I thought Novarro was just riveting in that film - his best work. I always thought he was perfect as a Silent visual interpretor. He seemed more real to me as young film-goer, and when I saw Ben-Hur later, it reminded me of this impression.

BCNU

swac said...

I love the silent Ben Hur, I've been lucky enough to see it on the big screen (although without the Technicolor inserts, darnit) and it was completely captivating, due in large part to the performances of Navarro and Francis X. Bushman.

Filmmakers seem to forget that no matter how epic your project is, you need a strong, yet human, performance at the centre of it to make it truly great. That's why Lawrence of Arabia is a masterpiece and, say, Alexander, is not (although the performances may be one of the lesser problems with that particular butt numb-er).

Not too long ago I got the urge to watch Ben Hur again, and pulled out my MGM laserdisc copy, only to discover that one side of it had succumbed to the dreaded laser rot. Argh! However, I've heard that there is a new deluxe Ben Hur set on the way, with the Wyler remake as an added bonus to the Niblo original.

Oh yeah, < /sarcasm>