[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ben-hur-chariot-race_8922.jpg]]

Full title ''Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ''. [[{{Jesus}} Christ]] does have an important role in this story, [[HeroOfAnotherStory but it's often tangential]].

Originally a novel by Lewis "Lew" Wallace, a Union general in the American Civil War and the Governor of New Mexico, published in 1880. It was later adapted for the stage, and there are at least three film versions: one classic silent film from 1925 starring Ramon Novarro, one classic Panavision extravaganza from 1959, and one remake from 2016 starring Jack Huston and Creator/MorganFreeman.

The 1959 film, directed by Creator/WilliamWyler, starring Creator/CharltonHeston, is by far the best known version, and unless otherwise noted the examples below come from that version. See [[Recap/BenHur here]] for a plot summary of the 1959 film.

At the UsefulNotes/AcademyAward ceremony in 1960, ''Ben-Hur'' cleaned house. It was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won 11, missing only Adapted Screenplay. The film won Best Picture, Wyler won Best Director, Heston won Best Actor and Hugh Griffith took home Best Supporting Actor for playing Sheikh Ilderim. The 11 Oscars set a record, since tied by ''[[Film/{{Titanic 1997}} Titanic]]'' and ''[[Film/TheLordOfTheRings The Return of the King]]''.

An animated film was made in 2003 with Charlton Heston reprising the role, in his final performance.

A live theatrical show, properly entitled ''Ben-Hur Live'', was released to public viewing in Europe in 2009.

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!!Provides examples of:


* AdaptedOut: The novel featured another love interest for Judah besides Esther - Iras daughter of Balthazar (one of the biblical Magi).
* AdaptationalHeroism:
** In the novel, the plot is kicked off when Judah accidentally knocks a roof tile on the head of a Roman centurion and gets arrested. In the movie, Judah's sister is the one who dislodges the roof tile, but Judah deliberately takes the blame in an attempt to spare his sister. (In the 1925 film it's Judah who knocks the tile.) In the novel, when Judah is on a sinking slave ship, and finds himself unchained, he gets off the ship. In the movie, Judah takes the opportunity to punch out a guard, steal his keys, and free all the other slaves on the ship, before escaping himself.
** In the 2016 film, Messala gets this, because the incident that kickstarts the plot is not a dislodged roof tile but [[spoiler:an actual assassination attempt of Pontius Pilate by a zealot firing a arrow from the top of the House of Hur. Messala even finds evidence that the Hurs had been harboring the zealot and nursing his wounds for some time.]] This means that he actually has valid reason to do what he does to Judah and his family.
* AdaptationalVillainy: In the 2016 Quintus Arrius is a total and complete bastard. [[spoiler: He abuses the galley slaves so badly Judah doesn't lift a finger to save him]].
* AncientRome: Or rather the backwater Roman province of Judaea.
* ArabOilSheikh: Ilderim, if you replace oil with gold. Or horse races.
* ArrangedMarriage: Esther in the 1959 film. She doesn't go through with it.
* BadassIsraeli: Judah definitely fits the bill.
* BeenThereShapedHistory: In the novel and film Jesus gives Judah water when the latter is a prisoner. In the film Judah repays this by giving Jesus water as he is taken to be crucified. The novel goes further and makes Judah the man who gives Jesus sour wine on a sponge, mentioned in the Gospels.
* BibleTimes
* TheBigRace: Judah Ben-Hur and Messala play out their conflict in a famous ChariotRace.
* CallBack: The 1959 film has Judah paying back that long-ago cup of water by giving one to Jesus as he walks to his crucifixion.
* ChariotRace: The TropeCodifier.
* ChekhovsSkill: Ben-Hur's spear throwing.
* ClearMyName:
** Judah has to restore his standing after having been falsely accused of trying to assassinate the governor.
** Also, the author. According to the historian Victor Davis Hanson, Wallace may have been so exasperated over accusations of incompetence at the Battle of Shiloh that he wrote this book to distract himself.
* DeathByAdaptation:
** In the novel Messala survives being crippled at the race and remains a thorn in Judah's side for years (like sending assassins after him), and lives past the Crucifixion, but is murdered by a rejected love interest of Judah.
** In the 2016 film [[spoiler:Quintus Arrius doesn't survive the sea battle where Judah gains his freedom. Not only does Judah not rescue him like the previous versions... ''he makes sure he dies'']].
* {{Determinator}} Messala after being trampled by horses in the Chariot Race, is determined to stay alive so he could speak to Ben-Hur one last time.
* DisproportionateRetribution: Judah feels this happens to Messala during the chariot race when Messala gets trampled to death when all Judah really wanted was to humiliate his former friend by defeating him in front of the Roman government.
** Judah refusing to be an informant for Messala and betray the confidence of those unhappy with the Roman rule of Judea, since he also desires freedom for his people. Messala responds to this slight by invoking that he's either WithUsOrAgainstUs and then declares Judah to be his sworn enemy when he still refuses. It becomes truly disproportionate when Messala arrests Judah and his entire family for a crime he ''knows'' was an accident, consigning him to life as a slave and his family to [[HellholePrison the Citadel]].
* DutchAngle: An extremely powerful one that shows Jesus on the cross.
* DroneOfDread: The rowing scene uses gradually-accelerating cellos.
* EmergingFromTheShadows: Ben-Hur makes use of this when showing up at Messala's door after his return from Rome.
* EmpathicEnvironment: The literal house that Judah's family lives in mirrors the fall and eventual return of its owners; the crucifixion takes place in the middle of a huge storm.
* EpicMovie: Spars with ''Film/GoneWithTheWind'' as the quintessential example. For that matter, the 1925 silent version was the most expensive movie ever made at the time.
* TheFaceless / TheVoiceless: Jesus, in the first 2 film versions, but not the 2016 film.
** In the stage production of the novel, Jesus wasn't even portrayed by an actor; He only appeared as a beam of intense white light.
* FascinatingEyebrow: Quintus, as he looks at the galley slaves dropping.
* FinalSpeech: Messala makes one.
* TheFilmOfTheBook
* FunnyForeigner: Sheikh Ilderim in the movie.
* HarshWordImpact: Ben-Hur visibly reacts when Esther accuses him of becoming like Messala.
* HeelFaceTurn: In the 2016 film [[spoiler:Messala survives his crippling in the arena and makes peace with Judah, becoming his brother once more. It's implied that he even gets together with Tirzah]].
* HellHolePrison: What it says on the tin when we see scenes of "the citadel".
* HeroOfAnotherStory: This happens in the background of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, arguably a more important series of events.
* HomoeroticSubtext: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxecELnxMYU A deliberate example.]] Director Creator/WilliamWyler and co-screenwriter Gore Vidal told Stephen Boyd, the actor portraying Messala, to play him as if he and Judah had been lovers as youths and that his vindictiveness is therefore motivated by a sexual and romantic rejection as much as a political one. They did not, however, tell Charlton Heston, who found out years later and was ''not'' pleased. This did add an interesting dynamic to the scenes between Judah and Messala, since Heston's uncomfortable reactions to some of Boyd's behavior came off as reluctance towards his former lover.
* InsistentTerminology: Pontius Pilate ''insists'' on referring to Judah by his adopted Roman name of Arrius the Younger, as part of his attempt to civilise him into the Roman way of life. Judah eventually snaps and demand he be called by his ''real'' name.
* IronicEcho: "We keep you alive to serve this ship. Row well, and live."
** As Judah is dragged off to the slave ship, Jesus gives him much-needed water despite the Roman guards threatening to stop him. Later, when Ben-Hur sees that the "miracle healer" is Jesus, he tries to return the favor of offering Jesus some water during his tribulation only for the Romans to successfully stop him.
* {{Irony}}: Judah being a galley on a slave ship, surrounded by endless water that he cannot drink.
** Additionally, the ocean symbolizes death for the Jewish people (being desert peoples, they never learned to swim), so it's also symbolic of how he "died" and was later "reborn".
* KarmaHoudini: Marcus Decimus in the 2016 version.
* KnightsAndKnaves: Ben-Hur deduces that whatever Messala says about his mother and sister, he will mean the exact opposite.
* LampshadedDoubleEntendre: Sheik Ilderim does this. "One God, that I can understand; but one wife? That is not civilized. [nudges Judah] It is not generous!"
* LargeHam: You can tell Hugh Griffith is enjoying himself as Ilderim. Heston as Judah has a few moments as well.
** The hortator, as part of his job. "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXh1tW16V-8 RAMMING! SPEED!]]"
* LastSupperSteal: The 1925 film recreates the painting--but since Jesus must remain TheFaceless, the shot in the movie has another disciple sitting directly in front of him.
* {{Letterbox}} The chariot sequence is ALWAYS presented in letterbox, even if the rest of the movie is a PanAndScan format.
* MadeASlave: Judah is arrested and made a galley slave.
* ManlyGay: Messala (see above)
* MrFanservice: Creator/CharltonHeston and Stephen Boyd both get shirtless scenes.
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: Judah sums it up beautifully in this exchange.
-->'''Messala:''' By what magic do you bear the name of a Consul of Rome?
-->'''Judah:''' You were the magician, Messala. When my ship was sunk, I saved the Consul's life.
* NotSoDifferent: At one point, Esther lampshades that Judah's hatred of Rome has made him just as bitter as Messala.
* OhCrap: When Judah looks for Miriam and Tirzah in the leper colony, he runs into Esther bringing them food and water. She has a quietly horrified Oh Crap look as she has previously told him (by their request) that they were dead,
** The Roman soldier when he realized he almost cussed out Jesus for giving Ben-Hur water.
* PropertyOfLove: In the 1925 film, Esther is deemed to be Judah's slave, since her father was. She even makes a pose of submission before him. They declare their love for each other, but he never actually frees her. (The 1959 film specifically states that Judah frees Esther from slavery right before he's arrested.)
* ProtagonistCenteredMorality: Quintus Arrius is a slave-keeping imperialist just like Messala. But because he's nice to Ben-Hur, he's considered a good guy. Even Pontius Pilate gets off relatively lightly.
** After being accused of attempting to assassinate the governor and trying to escape from custody, Judah claims that he is no murderer... despite having been just shown strangling one of the guards with his chains and the film [[AmbiguousSituation never]] [[TheUnreveal revealing]] whether or not he actually ''did'' kill him?
* TheQueensLatin: In the movie, Roman characters are mostly played by Brits, and speak accordingly.
* RatedMForManly: Well, it isn't exactly a macho movie, but the galley battle and chariot race scenes are like testosterone and adrenaline mixed together.
* RealMenLoveJesus: Judah is a {{Badass}}, and devout in his Jewish faith. In the end, he embraces the teachings of Jesus.
* RecycledINSPACE: The novel has often been referred to as "''Literature/TheCountOfMonteCristo'' meets ''QuoVadis''" or "''Literature/TheCountOfMonteCristo'' in the first century AD".
* RedemptionInTheRain: A huge thunderstorm whips up during the crucifixion and the healing of Judah's mother and sister takes place at the same time Judah himself gives up on vengeance.
* RemakeCameo: Various sources indicate that May [=McEvoy=], who played Esther in the 1925 film, appears as an extra in a crowd scene somewhere in the 1959 movie.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Judah's not exactly roaring with it when he returns demanding his family's release, but he's close, and by the time of the ChariotRace this trope is in full effect.
* ShiningCity: Rome and Jerusalem.
* SidelongGlanceBiopic: A borderline example, since the places the story of the gospel in the background of Judah's adventures.
* SistineSteal: The movie popularized the use of ''The Creation of Adam'' in mainstream medias (although not a parody here).
* SlaveGalley: TropeCodifier. Chained rowers, brutal overseers with whips, and a drummer.
* SplashOfColor: Most of the 1925 silent version is shot in black and white, but most of the scenes that deal with Christ are in color, as is Ben-Hur's triumph and the final scene.
* SwordAndSandal
* TraumaCongaLine: What's [[FateWorseThanDeath worse than death]]? Knowing your sister and mother wasting away in The Valley of the Lepers.
* WeUsedToBeFriends: The basis for the conflict between Ben-Hur and Messala.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: In the 1925 movie Messala is shown being taken away from the chariot race injured but alive, and is described as "broken" after losing his fortune to Judah. He is never mentioned again. (The 1959 film includes a death scene for Messala.)
* YouAreNumberSix: Ben-Hur being called "Forty-One" on the Galley.
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