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Ben-Hur is the fictional story of Judah ben-Hur, a Judean man who, during the reign of the emperor Augustus, is enslaved through the betrayal of his friend Messala. Embittered and vengeful after regaining his freedom, he is redeemed after encountering Jesus Christ and witnessing his crucifixion.

The story originated as a novel by General Lew Wallace which was published on November 12, 1880, by Harper and Brothers[?]. Wallace's work is part of an important sub-genre of historical fiction set among the characters of the New Testament.

The novel was later adapted into three motion pictures.

The 15 minute long 1907 version still survives. Just as its successors it too features a chariot race. It was directed by Canadian director Sidney Olcott; no acting credits are noted.

The second silent version appeared in 1925, and starred Ramon Novarro[?] in the title role; Francis X. Bushman[?] played his friend Messala. Several big Hollywood stars of the time appeared as uncredited crowd extras during the chariot race. The film was directed by Charles Brabin[?], J.J. Cohn[?], and Fred Niblo[?]

The 1959 version of the story is the best-known today. It was done in the spectacular block buster style, and featured Charlton Heston as Judah ben-Hur and Stephen Boyd[?] as Messala.

The film won a stunning 11 Academy Awards:

The film was also nominated for one further award

  • Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium - Karl Tunberg[?]

The film has also been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

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