“Ben-Hur” will adapt the 1880 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ” by Lew Wallace, most famously adapted in 1959 as “Ben-Hur” starring Charlton Heston.
According to Deadline, the new version of “Ben-Hur” will tell “the formative story of the characters as they grew up best friends before the Roman Empire took control of Jerusalem. Judah Ben-Hur was a Jewish prince and Messala the son of a Roman tax collector. After the latter leaves to be educated in Rome for five years, the young man returns with a different attitude. Messala mocks Judah and his religion and when a procession passes by Judah’s house and a roof tile accidentally falls and hits the governor, Messala betrays his childhood friend and manipulates it so that Judah is sold into slavery and certain death on a Roman warship, with his mother and sister thrown in prison for life. Judah doesn’t die, and vows revenge on Messala which, like in the films, culminates in the famed chariot races.”
The movie will also follow a parallel story involving Jesus, so from the sounds of it, Jesus will have a much more important role in this one. As I recall, Jesus only showed up briefly in a cameo in the 1959 movie.
The script by Keith Clarke (who will also produce), will of course wrap things up with the chariot race. Because how can you have a Ben-Hur related anything without a chariot race? That’s like a “Death Race” movie without, you know, the races. And deaths.