I guess it was only a matter of time, but the classic Charlton Heston film Ben-Hur is set to be remade by MGM. The film will be based on the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ. According to Deadline the studio is buying a spec script for the film written by Keith Clarke (The Way Back), and it will be produced by Sean Daniel who says,
It’s one of the great stories of friendship and betrayal, and faith, that works in the context of a big onscreen action thriller for a global audience.
This will be the third Ben-Hur movie that MGM will have produced over the years. The first was a 1925 silent film called Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ, and the second was the 1959 film that we all know and love. Apparently the new film that the studio wants to make is more faithful to the book, and is much different than the 1959 William Wyler film, which focused on the adult blood feud between Judah Ben-Hur and Messala.
I can actually see potential in this remake, with today's filmmaking tools it could be an extremely epic film. As much as I love the original movie, I'm not closed to the idea of it being remade. I just keep imagining how big and epic it could be, and the fact that it's going to be closer to the story of the novel is also a big plus because it won't be a direct remake. According to the report:
This film 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. There is another way the script differs from the movie, in that it will tell the parallel tale of Jesus Christ, with whom Ben-Hur has several encounters which moves him to become a believer in the Messiah, and which culminates in Christ being sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate. Intertwined in all this is the lifelong struggle between Ben-Hur and Messala.
Hopefully they can bring a solid team of talent to bring this story to life in the right way. I could see Ridley Scott taking a project like this on. He makes these kinds of movies anyway, but I doubt that's who will end up directing it. Other than Scott who else do you think could take on the challenge of making this film?