Encouraging Comments about Ben-Hur from the producers!

Many of you know how much I am looking forward to the remake of Ben-Hur.  It is hard to find real news about the project because I need to sift through all the articles crying about how it is horrible that they are remaking the “original.” Sometimes these articles are written with so much arrogance that it is hard to restrain myself.  These so called fans of Ben-Hur are nothing of the sort!  They never read the book or never saw the films that came before it… which by the way would make the 1959 version not “The Original” but one of the many Ben Her remakes! As a fan of Superman I look forward to any incarnation of this character I love.  I can have an opinion like Superman Returns was not what I wanted… but I saw it, I looked forward to it… and really… I can get some enjoyment out of it… just not as much as I’d like.

A few days ago, while sifting through these articles I found one of interest! It was an article that made me extremely…. JEALOUS! This article told me that there are people out there that are not part of the production, people who are just part of the audience, that have seen clips from the remake of Ben-Hur! Oh how I would have loved to be in the audience!

On June 25th, Variety put on what is being called Variety’s Purpose Summit.   This was a summit meant to promote upcoming faith based projects.  In attendance was Mark Burnett and Roma Downey to speak about their projects and as part of their presentation they showed what seems to be a trailer that is being described as “full of action.” No word on how it was received.  I would like to just examine a few quotes from the summet.

  1. The Jesus in Ben-Hur will be “is going to be consistent with people’s expectations” – Rob Moore, the vice-president of Paramount Pictures said these words after sharing that he feels the backlash of Noah was about expectations. Many people expected a faithful, direct interpretation of the character they know.  What they got was a fantasy story inspired by the Biblical story.  I think I would agree with that observation.  I would say though that the problem with the expectations was fueled by the fact that Paramount really pushed its marketing towards Christians while hiding the additional fantasy elements added to the story.  This quote is encouraging to me.  This tells me that the Jesus we get in Ben-Hur will be a more faithful version of Jesus.
  2. This Ben-Hur movie is not a “remake but a reinterpretation of the novel by Lew Wallace.” – At first glance this might concern any fan of the 1959 film. However, for someone like me who is absolutely in love with the novel I love this comment.  You see, I love the 1959 movie.  I also love (and possible a little more) the 1925 silent film of Ben Hur which was just as amazing… if not more amazing then the 1959 version when taken into account it was as big as the 1959 version but was 34 years before it. My main criticism with both films is that it drives toward the chariot race and then when it gets there it rushes to the end as if the chariot race is what it is all about anyway.  And if you are a fan of the film then it probably is… but in the novel most of the best parts happen after the race and are skipped by both films.  My hope is that by going back to the novel they feel inspired to enter those scenes in that have never been shown before!  For those of you who are fans of the movie and don’t think it should be remade, think of it in this sense… it is not a remake but a different interpretation of the same thing that inspired the 1959 movie.

Don’t get me wrong, am I nervous about this remake? YES! Is my nervousness in part because of the previous interpretations of Ben-Hur? YES! It can be terrifying if you think about it this way.  There have been two big screen interpretations of Ben-Hur (other adoptions but only two on movie screens) Both of these two films have been ground breaking.  Both of these two films have been described as masterpieces.  Both of these films have not just been good… they were as close to cinematic perfection as could have been achieved at the time they were made.  It is almost unfair the expectations on this remake.  Almost… but this is exactly what should be the goal.  This shouldn’t just be another movie but it should be awe inspiring.  Does this mean I will not like it if it doesn’t achieve this? NO! If the movie is high quality, well done, well directed, well acted and is faithful to the novel I will love it! If they use the scene at the garden of gethsemane I will shout, right in the theater “BONUS!” I cannot wait to see some footage from this film!

‘Unveiled’ or ‘Touched By and Angel 2.0?’

Roma Downey and Husband, Mark Burnett, have been very active recently when it comes to faith based content.  They were the producers of The Bible miniseries which will be continued soon by A.D. Beyond the Bible, they are producing another miniseries called The Dovekeepers based on the novel by the same name that also has a faith aspect to it.  They are producing a movie called Little Boy which is a story about the power of faith and they are also producing the remake to Ben-Hur which is based on the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. However, this is not all they are up to.  The end of January Roma Downey and Mark Burnett announced another series they will be producing for NBC (NBC is where you will be able to watch A.D. even though its predecessor was on The History Channel.) This new series that is set to air during the 2015-2016 season (which usually begin in September) is called “Unveiled” it is about guardian angels that attempt to restore faith and save people in the midst of crisis. Sound familiar? Well, it should! Roma Downey because a house hold name during her time staring in the successful TV show “Touched by an Angel.” I am sure that this show came up in the discussions to create this new show about angels.

For those of you who where fans of “Touched by an Angel” this might be something you would like to try out.  Being that it is at the beginning stages of development I do not have much information on the project other than it is set to star Stephan James, an actor who just recently starred in Oscar Nominated Selma.  James is set to play a rookie Guardian Angel who is just learning about human suffering.  It should be interesting to see this project unfold as it is coming close to the normal premier time.  Will this show be anything like Touched by an Angel? Will it please the faith based community? Will the faith based community give it a shot? Time will tell!