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Widely regarded as the greatest Biblical epic -- eleven Academy Awards will quickly cement that reputation -- William Wyler’s Ben-Hur was also the last large-budget, star-packed Biblical epic produced in America. The tale of Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) and his quest to rise above his slavery and exact revenge on the Roman friend who betrayed him (Messala, played by Stephen Boyd) is famous for its chariot race, but the lavish sets, huge cast of stars and extras, and almost four-hour length came within inches of bankrupting MGM. The film’s success at the box office averted that particular disaster, but it was the last time any studio would run such a risk. See the Biblical epic that killed the Biblical epic as it was meant to be seen: on the big screen, today at 12:45 p.m. at the Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-862-1100; admission is $5). Ben-Hur is shown in conjunction with Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art’s current exhibition, The Celluloid Bible: Marketing Films Inspired by Scripture, which remains on display through Sunday, December 9.
Sun., Nov. 4, 2007

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