Are the chariot races in "Ben Hur" of 1925 and "Ben Hur" of 1959, the same number of laps?
#113390. Asked by serpa. (Mar 13 10 3:27 PM)
A chariot race was 9 laps, and both films showed 7 laps. The 1959 remake recreated the 1925 original almost shot for shot.|
According to the commemorative booklet, eighteen chariots were built for the production, with nine used for practice and training. The remaining nine teams were used in the filmed race, which consisted of seven laps shot in the arena for the nine-lap race of the story. Sources variously report the use of 6,000 or 7,000 extras to fill the stadium as cheering Judeans, with various mattes used to flesh out the walls and backgrounds of the arena.
One of the assistant directors for this sequence was a very young William Wyler, who would direct the now more famous 1959 remake with Charlton Heston. A more detailed plot that is derived from the book is described in the section on the remake below, but it’s not the plot of this early version that lives on in people’s minds. Legends surrounding the infamous chariot race, and the fatal accident that occurred on set are what is ultimately remembered and led to changes in rules of film safety.
When filming the chariot scene, the drivers were extremely cautious, which disappointed MGM, the studio financing it, so they offered a hundred dollars to the winner hoping the scene would become fast paced. The resulting melee quickly got out of control and led to the horrendous crash that remains in the movie, and despite this tragic event, the scene was re-created virtually shot for shot in the 1959 remake.
Costing between 4 and 6 million dollars, Ben-Hur is the most expensive silent film ever made. And early audiences flocked to Ben-Hur after its premiere in 1925, yet its huge expenses made MGM unable to recoup its four million dollar investment.
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