They are remaking the film Ben-Hur (for the 5th time)..a dangerous challenge to Director William Wyler‘s 1959 iconic cinematic achievement. The trailer was recently released; unimpressed reactions could be summarized as, “This looks like Fast & The Furious with horses.”
The basis for each film’s screenplay is Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The novel was published in 1880, and tells the story of Judah Ben-Hur and his encounter with Jesus of Nazareth. There are allusions to the film’s chariot scene in Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace (Pod Race), in The Muppets (“Ben Hare”), and in The Simpsons episode Saturdays of Thunder.
The many films of Ben-Hur have been parodied, but no parody was a successful as the ad for Turner Movie Classics that was created as a promotion for the Academy Awards in 2007. In this short commercial, second and third grade students perform scenes from the film: the slave ship, the leper scene, and of course the climactic chariot race. The juxtaposition of having these children recite such serious lines with deadpan delivery-all under the watchful eye of a teacher playing the accompanying soundtrack- results in a comic masterpiece.