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The 1959 Ben-Hur: A New Tradition Begins

MGM’s 1959 Ben-Hur has been called “the most honored film of all time.” The winner of an unprecedented eleven Academy Awards, director William Wyler’s epic won virtually every international “best picture” award, was seen by millions around the globe, and earned MGM tens of millions of dollars. On Thursday, July 26, 2018, at 7 p.m., Ben-Hur expert Dr. Howard Miller visited the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum to deliver a lecture entitled “The 1959 Ben-Hur: A New Tradition Begins.”

Dr. Miller’s lecture analyzes the ways in which Wyler, a celebrated director of intimate chamber movies (Mrs. Miniver, Wuthering Heights, and The Letter), demonstrated that a thrilling and spectacular blockbuster could have, at its vital center, a compelling tale of affecting human relationships. In addition, it focuses on the novel’s villain, the Roman Messala, who will be at the center of the new tradition that the 1959 Ben-Hur inaugurated and that continues to this day. Concluding the lecture are twenty minutes of film clips from the 1959 epic.

Dr. Miller’s lecture ties in with the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum’s 2018 annual exhibit, Lights, Camera, Epic! Ben-Hur on Screen and Beyond. The exhibit discusses the four motion pictures made of Ben-Hur—in 1907, 1925, 1959, and 2016—as well as other adaptations, marketing, and the continued legacy of Lew Wallace’s epic novel.

Dr. Miller graciously allowed us to go live on Facebook during his lecture, and we are now sharing the video here for your enjoyment.

 

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