My last post was published all the way back in November 2022 and my life has been crazy since then. I mean, it was crazy before…but November 2022 was where things got real. That was the month where, one day, I resolved that the next 365 days would be a year of intentional singleness, with the goal of seeking God first. I was sick of struggling with thoughts of discontent, always wondering if this guy or that guy might be ‘the one.’ So I gave my singleness to God and in return, He began showing me just how good and satisfying He is.
That isn’t to say that my life has been perfect since I set aside this year to seek God. Actually, the first three or so months of 2023 were some of the darkest of my life as Satan attacked. I felt as though God was finished with me, could never love me, and so many other dark emotions. (The key word there is ‘felt.’ If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that I cannot trust my feelings–only God’s Word!) But it has been worth it all. I went into this year with a desire to know Jesus more…and I do. He’s my Savior and I love Him and there’s still so much more to learn.
And, yes, I’m still single. Prospectless, in fact–which is actually fine. November isn’t here yet. 😉 I’m not expecting that a flood of guys will appear at my front door when that specific date rolls around. (Just one–the right one–would be nice though…) And even when this season of singleness ends (or if it never does), I want my main goal to be that I will know and love God more each and every day.
Now for those thoughts on Ben-Hur (1959)…
Until a few days ago, I’d never actually seen Ben-Hur in its entirety. Although I watched it many, many times as a kid, there were always scenes that we skipped–either because they were too ‘boring’ (Judah and Esther’s romantic rendezvous) or too intense for younger viewers. Once I was old enough to watch the whole thing, I never did…for a pretty shallow reason. I’m not a fan of Charlton Heston, so sitting through a nearly four hour long movie starring him didn’t excite me.
But last week, I finally did see Ben-Hur from start to finish. (Minus the overture/intermission, because I was watching it with other people who didn’t appreciate the glorious music.) And here are some things that stood out to me.
They really don’t make ’em like they used to.
I know that’s a very cliched thing to say about old Hollywood epics like Ben-Hur, but that thought kept coming to my mind over and over again as I watched it. The sets, the extras, the matte backdrops, the sheer scope of the story, the larger-than-life characters, the exhaustive soundtrack, the chariot race (!!!!!!!!!!)…I was in awe from start to finish. Watching Ben-Hur as an adult was a much more satisfying experience than watching it as a kid, since I was able to really appreciate the plot, character arcs, and massive amounts of work that went into the film as a whole.
Charlton Heston still isn’t my favorite, but he turns in a great performance.
Judah’s journey from the highest highs to lowest lows (and back again) is incredibly engaging and intense–and that’s thanks in large part to Charlton Heston. Heston’s acting style annoys me sometimes (he can be a liiittle over-dramatic, imo), but I was still invested in Judah’s story from start to finish. I’m getting a little choked up even now, thinking back to some of Heston’s work in the scenes involving Judah and his mother and sister. So good.
Messala terrifies me.
One of the best movie villains…and one of the most chilling. The way he instantly turns on Judah (and the Hur family as a whole!) is shocking. He’s an evil guy, right up to the end of his part in the story, but there’s still a bit of sadness in the back of my mind for what he was and what he could have been. 😦
Judah’s revenge/redemption arc is beautiful…but lacking in one way.
I really liked Judah’s character arc in Ben-Hur, no question about it. But what would have made me love it is if there had been a longer denouement before the film’s end. I don’t have a clear picture of what that could have looked like, but I think including news of Christ’s resurrection would have been nice. Judah was impacted so powerfully by Jesus and without the resurrection there’s a bit of a sense that Jesus was just a good man who helped Judah. I also would have liked a scene or two of the Hur family after their initial reunion. They were so sweet and happy together at the start of the movie; after multiple hours of separation and misery, seeing them reconnecting would have been wonderful.
(“And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand” is still the best line in the movie though. A great ending to Judah’s arc, even if the rest of the denouement feels a little rushed.)
When this movie is powerful, it’s really, really, REALLY powerful.
I’ve tried just now to write about what makes Ben-Hur such a powerful film, over sixty years after its release, but words really do fail me. Its a powerful character study that grapples with themes of revenge and forgiveness and fear and death and life. The chariot race is still spectacular in every way (as well as being a clear inspiration for the podrace in The Phantom Menace). And the very human, relatable characters will capture your heart. Ben-Hur is food for the spirit. If you haven’t seen it yet, take the next available opportunity to do so!
I don’t know if I’ll return to posting regularly here (or even semi-regularly). But I did really enjoy writing this blog post. Let me know how you all are doing and if you’ve seen Ben-Hur (and what you thought of it, if you have).