Sextus: You can break a man’s skull, you can arrest him, you can throw him into a dungeon. But how do you control what’s up there? How do you fight an idea?
Messala: Sextus, you ask how to fight an idea. Well I’ll tell you how… with another idea!
Love some of the Classics…that’s why they are the Classics…Unrivalled, unmatched, they set the standard. They are the standard. They never grow old. There are two such movies that intrigue me, that never left me years after I watched them.
When you watch a movie, one is aware that that they are paid actors doing their job..that a director is yelling ”Cut!” and ”Action!” between canning shots…that touch up and make up is being done every now and then. The sets, props, lighting, all ready to roll. But on a rare occasion, a movie rises, that throws all of this to the winds. You are transported to their world. Their feeling become your feelings…and no more is it just a movie, they speak for all humanity.
I still remember going to see William Wyler’s screen adaptation of Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, with my dad. In Ben-Hur, I am a spectator in the crowd. You are in the arena watching the heated chariot race, you feel for the character, his pain becomes yours, especially when you know he is wronged by the treachery of an old childhood friend.
The rugged Charlton Heston with ”features chiseled in stone” as Ben-Hur, the punch in the powerfully delivered dialogues that makes you think of them over and over…it is indeed a film par excellence. Even the comedy is so heightened yet so down to Earth…it raises an honest laugh when Sheik Idherim says, “You think you can treat my horses like animals?” And then again when he says, ”One wife? One God, that I can understand-but one wife? That is not civilised!” Makes you want to seriously turn around and smack your husband if he were to laugh at that joke!!
What can be more romantic and true than ”I can hardly draw breathe without feeling you in my heart..” when the protagonist says that to his young lady love who has taken upon herself the onus of looking after his leprous mother and sister. It’s also the art of brevity, less is more..no mush involved, no excessive dialogues to get a point across…
Another life truth is revealed when Esther tells Ben-Hur, ”You seem to be now the very thing you set out to destroy, giving evil for evil! Hatred is turning you to stone.” which is again re-inforced in Balthasar’s statement, ”I see this terrible thing in your eyes, Judah Ben-Hur, but no matter what this man has done to you, you have no right to take his life. He will be punished inevitably.” Yes, isn’t the law of Justice set in motion on the planet-and yet, oftentimes, we fail to realise and take it upon ourselves… Messala’s shreiking obscenities even on his death bed depicts a life wasted on hatred and jealousy, teaching us to tread carefully, and keep short accounts, lest one day, they take root.
It is a heavy movie alright, but has such a noble and lofty theme-one that speaks of forgiveness, one that speaks of a rich life and one of hope and new beginnings. If you haven’t watched it already (or even if it’s been a long time since), ‘d encourage you to get yourself a copy. It’s a Classic anyway.
To be contd..thanks for stopping by…