Ben-Hur is one of the biggest Oscar winners, tied with Avatar and The Lord of the Rings-The Return of the King (12). But in addition to the adventures, the chariot race and the naval battle, the story of a Jewish prince made a slave by Rome and contemporary to Jesus is an example of how, in the middle of the Cold War, Hollywood embraced religion through spectacle. By the way, this William Wyler film is still effective and, at times (which are not few, it lasts almost four hours) excellent. Charlton Heston is the stature of a monument, by the way (and you can compare it, it’s on YouTube, with the 1924 version).
And since we are with the Romans, let’s go. Shortly after Ben-Hur’s incredible success, everyone threw themselves into robes, including Kirk Douglas, who produced Spartacus. It was directed by Anthony Mann, but there were (serious) problems and the film about the slave that generates a rebellion of the oppressed against Rome passed into the hands of Stanley Kubrick. It’s his “most Hollywood” movie and, incidentally, the “most Kubrick” movie that post-classic Hollywood could afford. Underneath, the relationship between Laurence Olivier and Tony Curtis is remarkably homoerotic.
If we are guided by that masterpiece that is Palombella Rossa, this is Nanni Moretti’s favorite film. It tells the story of a doctor to whom, from the beginning of the Russian Revolution until the advent of Stalinism in the USSR, everything happens: he falls in love, loses a woman, marries another, meets the first one, is put in prison, They take it out, fight with weapons, save lives. David Lean’s film about Boris Pasternak’s novel cannot be summarized. And it lasts more than three hours and it is not boring.
The Lord of the rings
Although HBO Max does NOT have the director’s cut (by when? Platforms are great for that …), the “normal” version is an example of how to adapt a book. Better said: how to convey in a personal way what you like about a book you love very much. Peter Jackson not only makes his way through a non-existent world full of names, races, and languages, but makes it understandable and even fixes (sometimes serious) flaws in the book. A classic, in addition, of the application of technology to the show.