Ben-Hur, the upcoming remake and fourth film adaptation of the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, has some very big sandals to fill and long-time fans to please. The previous film of the same name released in 1959 starring the great Charlton Heston, took home a record-breaking eleven Academy Awards including Best Picture. Being the most expensive film to produce at the time, it’s easily considered one the best historical epic action movies in the history of cinema.
However, the new Ben-Hur, directed by directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch) and written by Keith Clarke and John Ridley, promises to be a complete re-imagining and new interpretation of the original novel that audiences have yet to see.
The newest trailer (which you can watch above) focuses on the intense rivalry between Judah and Messala as they speed around the Circus Maximus in Rome in their chariots. Reactions to the first trailer were a bit on the divisive side with comparisons being made to 300:Rise of An Empire, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and every other “swords and sandals” film of recent years. Again, we see Morgan Freeman’s all-knowing character as Sheik Ilderim advising Judah to take revenge as he relentlessly trains him to become a winning charioteer. The trailer also highlights the people that would follow him if he begins a revolution against the Roman Empire, seeking the ultimate revenge.
Read the official synopsis below:
BEN-HUR is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption. Based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Also starring Morgan Freeman and Rodrigo Santoro.
The main difference between this take on Ben-Hur and the others is the amount of focus placed on Jesus of Nazarene. Just like in the original novel, Christ will have a very prominent role in this version as Judah (also a former Jewish prince) has a devout change of heart after he has many encounters with Jesus himself. Paramount Pictures’ vice chairman, Rob Moore, previously explained that in this version Christ “is going to be consistent with people’s expectations and that the “expectations of the faithful will be honored by this one.”
While this trailer doesn’t necessarily show us anything new, it does a wonderful job of building up an intense amount of sibling rivalry by painting Messala as self-serving, evil person who wants to see his old friend and brother dead. We see Messalla taunting Judah to no end, but this only forces our hero to try harder and harder to win against his brother and the empire.
Ben-Hur opens in in theaters August 13, 2016.