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Cinema & the Arts as Sermons: Ben Hur Meets Jesus (1959)

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

Video from Movieclips

Ben Hur Meets Jesus (1959)

"There had been nothing like it before with its scale, sweeping scope and spectacle. It smashed box office records and won 11 Oscars including Best Pictures of 1959. I’m talking about William Wilder’s epic religious adventure drama Ben-Hur. It stirred the public’s imagination of the power of cinema like no other film before it except maybe for Gone With The Wind or The Ten Commandments. Still today it is revered for its celebrated achievements like its awe inspiring chariot race sequence but also at its heart a tender story of love and humanity.... Exhausted and dehydrated Judah is mocked and denied from quenching his thirst by a Roman centurion. Judah subsequently falls to the ground and asks for God’s help. It is here in this important early scene of the film that we unexpectedly meet Jesus of Nazereth. What makes this scene so powerful is the fact that Jesus is introduced as a faceless man. We do not need to see his face to realise he is an important individual and that his kindness speaks volumes, especially through his gentle touch and warmth. When he pours water over Judah’s face its like he is reinvigorating Judah for his new journey of self discovery: “Whoever thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” from the article: Cinemas Greatest Scenes: When Ben-Hur first meets Jesus.

"His face is never seen in the Charlton Heston classic, winner of 11 Academy Awards.

Claude Heater, the famed opera singer who appeared with his face unseen as Jesus Christ in William Wyler's epic 1959 production of Ben-Hur, has died. He was 92. A noted Wagnerian tenor, Heater died May 28 at St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco of natural causes after a long illness, according to an announcement on his foundation website..."

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