The latest Ben-Hur movie

Lew_Wallace_(ca._1865)The newest Ben-Hur movie is out now though I haven’t had the opportunity to watch it. It is a remake of the blockbuster 1959 film, a historical drama directed by William Wyler that won 11 Academy Awards. That is the most Oscars won by any film in history, an accomplishment that it shares with the 1997 movie Titanic and the 2003 Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Wikipedia states that the 1959 Ben-Hur is widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made (it is actually the second movie as it was a remake of one made by this name in 1925). It is based on Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ. Wallace was a Union major general during the U. S. Civil War and a member of the military commission that judged the eight people who were accused of being part of the conspiracy to murder Abraham Lincoln and other high government officials. These included, famously, devout Catholic Mary Surratt, who was condemned to death and who became the very first woman executed by the U. S. federal government. I have to admit I also have not read the book either. Incidentally, to get a first edition printing is not so cheap, I find it listed for sale at $769 Canadian, ($582 US), slightly less expensive than an original copy of the set of The Trial of John Surratt, which I noticed is just under $800 Canadian, ($600 US). John Surratt was the Lincoln conspirator who was sheltered by Catholic officials and in Catholic institutions while his mother was on trial.
Lew Wallace also served as the governor of the New Mexico Territory and later as U.S. minister to the Ottoman Empire. As the U. S. minister, he was stationed in Constantinople which is now Istanbul, Turkey and he took time to travel to Jerusalem where he did research for Ben-Hur. Writing the book had a big influence in his life, in his later work, The First Christmas from Ben-Hur (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1899), he reportedly declares that the act of writing Ben-Hur resulted in “a conviction amounting to absolute belief in God and the divinity of Christ.”

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