It’s a wonderful time in history to be a movie lover. With Blu-ray, we can now see movies as good or better than when we saw them in theaters.
Classic movies are also getting the Blu-ray treatment. They are being cleaned, revamped and remastered. Now, the original James Bond, Sean Connery, can look as clear as Daniel Craig’s James Bond does. Don’t believe me? Watch the Blu-ray version of “From Russia With Love.”
Other, even older, movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Wizard of Oz,” are also looking better than ever.
Yet, there are a few classic titles that are still pending Blu-ray release, and I, for one, am personally tracking their progress with great interest.
One particular movie I am anxiously waiting to see on Blu-ray is “Ben-Hur.” I’m referring to the 1959 Oscar-winning movie starring starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins and directed by William Wyler.
“Ben-Hur” is arriving on Blu-ray Sept. 27. Here is what Blu-ray.com said about the release:
The film has been newly restored at a resolution of 6K from the original 65mm camera elements. Apart from all previous DVD special features, this two-disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition will include a reproduction of the personal diary that Charlton Heston kept during the production, complete with personal photos and his own sketches, as well as Charlton Heston & Ben-Hur: A Personal Journey, a new documentary (in HD) on Heston’s experiences during the making of the film.
I want to share why I am so passionate about this movie, and why I can’t wait to see it in the highest definition available.
1. It was the first movie to ever earn 11 Academy Awards.
It just won in so many categories — Best Movie, Best Actor, Best Director, etc. It blew every other movie away, and held the Oscar record for decades. The next movies to earn that many Oscars were “Titanic” more than 30 year later, and most recently, “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” Both of those movies are already available in Blu-ray! Needless to say, such an award-winning film deserves to be seen on Blu-ray.
2. The chariot race scene.
OK, the chariot race scene in “Ben-Hur” is spectacular, with one of biggest sets ever used in a movie (even today). The race is so well filmed and choreographed, that it is still unmatched today. In fact, it is the inspiration for other movies (see “Gladiator” and the pod race in “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace”). This epic race needs to be seen the way it was intended — in glorious high definition.
3. The galleys.
When Judah is sent to be a galley slave, we get to accompany him through this trial. And here we are immediately tossed in the middle of a grand scale naval war of the Roman times. What is going on outside the ship is as powerful a scene as what’s going on inside the rough and unforgiving galley. This battle will be exciting to see in high definition.
4. Its grand and epic scale.
Recently, movies have truly captured the grandness of these ancient cities — Rome, Jerusalem (“Kingdom of Heaven,” “Troy,” “Alexander”) — but way before these, “Ben-Hur” brought them to life with majestic sets and filming locations that are breathtaking. They haven’t really been appreciated for decades, but once they are seen in Blu-ray high definition, people will see what those original film-makers saw when they looked through that camera lens back in 1959!
5. Finally, it’s a great way to honor a star who passed away a few years back.
The great Charlton Heston died back in 2008, and there is no better way to keep his memory alive than watching one of his greatest achievements and performances. Some of his other movies have already received the Blu-ray treatment (including “The Ten Commandments” and “Planet of the Apes”), and now arguably his greatest film is joining that club.
I can’t wait.
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