BEN-HUR – THE STORY
The story of Ben-Hur as adapted for the stadium show in Australia (October 22
& 23, 2010) by writer/director Robert Hossein, follows the 1880 novel by Lew
Two thousand years ago, Tiberius, emperor and god of The Roman Empire extended
his power over five million square kilometres. Obedience reigned under his
control and the emperor had 360,000 men always ready to rush to the borders and
protect the shores from rebellion.
In Ancient Rome there is a parade in front of the Emperor. The giant, crushing
and victorious Roman Army penetrate the stadium in lines to pay homage to the
Emperor of Tiberius.
In his magnificent palace in Judea, Ben-Hur is surrounded by his mother Myriam,
his sister Tirzah and his attendant Simonides. Messala, the son of a Roman
prefect who occupies Jerusalem, comes to visit Ben-Hur, his childhood friend.
Messala confides in him his desire to further subjugate the Judean people to
slavery. Ben-Hur cannot accept this and declares their friendship forever
At the foot of Ben-Hur’s palace, the impressive procession of Gratus, the new
Roman procurator, passes. So as to see better, Tirzah bends over and
accidentally pushes off a roof tile. Ben-Hur tries to catch it but it falls on
the procurator’s head. His escort immediately thinks it is an attack. Messala
screams out, “Stop them from leaving!” Ben-Hur and his people are arrested.
Ben-Hur joins thousands of prisoners on the long walk to the Mediterranean port
where the galley awaits. They march beneath unbearable sun and are whipped
mercilessly if they slow from exhaustion. In ripped clothes, amongst the galley
slaves sapped of their energy, Ben-Hur moves slowly and painfully through the
desert. Near Nazareth, the soldiers give a break to this pathetic group, to take
a small drink near a well. A centurion cries, “No! Not you! You are even
guiltier than the others!” Ben-Hur falls to the ground. An adolescent named
Jesus approaches him and gives the poor man some water.
In the Aegean Sea pirates ram the galley of Quintus Arius. The galley slaves
have no energy left and Quintes orders they be chained to the oars for the
attack. Only Ben-Hur remains dignified and vows that the willpower for vengeance
keeps him going. On hearing this, Quintus orders he be liberated from his
chains. When the pirates attack, Ben-Hur fights with the Romans and twice saves
Quintus from death and leads the fleet to victory.
The gladiators return to Ancient Rome and, to celebrate the victory, the Emperor
offers his people a phenomenal gladiator combat. Leading the victorious troops,
the chariot of Quintus parades triumphantly around in a circle. By his side Ben-Hur,
who Quintus has just adopted, is also cheered on. At the tribunal of Tiberius,
the procurator presents the two men to the man he has chosen to lead Jerusalem –
Quintus suggests Ben-Hur be trained in an arms drill and driving in a chariot
race. Despite his now seemingly brilliant life, he longed to find his mother and
sister and, although he fought constantly with the need to return to Judea he
was held back by the growing affection the aging Quintus Arius bore upon him.
When Quintus dies, Ben-Hur goes back to Judea. He wants to find his mother, his
sister and seeks vengeance against Messala. Little by little, a strange and
captivating light appears, accompanied by equally captivating music. Christ,
preaching to his disciples, appears in this atmosphere of contemplation.
On his way to Jerusalem, Ben-Hur meets the Sheik Ilderim, who offers to defend
his colours at the next chariot race. Ben-Hur refuses on the pretext of a
mission he is on. He finds a crippled Simonide and learns Messala will take part
in the race. The traitor threw his mother and sister in prison and confiscated
all their belongings, and so Ben-Hur goes back to the Sheik to declare he will
be his charioteer.
The Chariot race is set. Before the start, Ben-Hur offers to make a pact with
Messala declaring he will renounce his vengeance if Messala liberates his
people. His contemptuous refusal decides what happens next. The chariots
commence racing and as they overtake or are overtaken there are wheels locking
and chariots falling everywhere and as Messala is about to be overtaken he tries
to unbalance his rival. His axle breaks and he falls to the ground.
In Jerusalem, Ben-Hur visits the valley of the lepers where he has found his
sister and mother. Looking amongst the lepers, Ben-Hur screams his mother’s and
sister’s name. They finally appear, and Ben-Hur helps them from the valley when
they see a sinister cortege advancing towards them, escorted by Roman soldiers.
Carrying his cross, Christ falls to the ground. Ben-Hur quickly helps him up and
gives him a drink as Christ once did for him.
Published August 19, 2010.