By the time the 1800’s came to a close, Lew Wallace’s bestselling novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, was considered by many to be “the most influential Christian book of the nineteenth century.” Adapted for film a couple times, most recently in 1959, Ben-Hur became a runaway Hollywood hit, eventually capturing eleven Academy Awards.
Even today, over a half-century later, many critics consider it to be one of America’s greatest movies of all time.
Tomorrow, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are releasing a new version of the classic adventure for the big screen.
MGM, who spent over $100 million to produce the historical action-drama, is hoping for a good turnout.
So am I.
For those of you who have never see the original 1959 film version starring Charlton Heston or read Wallace’s series of novels, the story is set in 26 A.D. and centers around a wealthy prince named Judah Ben-Hur. The prince is falsely accused of a crime and enslaved. Bitter and determined to seek revenge, he challenges his accuser – and adoptive brother – to a chariot race. It’s in the midst of this unfolding drama that Ben-Hur encounters Jesus – who winds up forever changing his life.
That Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are willing to invest so heavily and heartily in faith-based films – at a time when Christians are being increasingly marginalized in the culture – is a bold and admirable effort. As believers, I think it’s important for us to consider supporting such an endeavor.
My colleague, Bob Waliszewski, had the privilege of screening the film several months ago. He thoroughly enjoyed it. Plugged In’s full review is available now. I would encourage you to read it as you consider buying a ticket to see the movie this weekend.
When Mark and Roma were first invited by MGM’s chairman to oversee the film’s production, the couple’s response was characteristically humble.
“We approached it prayerfully,” Roma told us. “A constant prayer [for us] is ‘Less of me, more of You.’ And we try to get out of the way and so that when the Spirit moves we listen. It’s in every stage of this we just prayed it in and we called in prayers from the community.”
Please join me in praying for the reception of this movie. There will be people attending this weekend who do not yet know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Movies can educate, entertain and inspire – and also introduce people to the greatest person who ever lived. As such, I pray that the love and devotion Mark and Roma poured into this film will result in an exponential expansion of the eternal Kingdom.