Director: Fred Niblo
Screenwriters: June Mathis, Lew Wallace

Institute History

  • 1988 Sundance Film Festival


Ben-Hur is a classic silent film of epic proportions, and its restoration (including color sequences) by archivists Kevin Bronlow and David Gill is a major event. From the novel by former Union General Lew Wallace, the film chronicles the epic tale of Ben-Hur, Prince of Jerusalem, beginning about 20 years after the birth of Christ. It features two sequences in particular, that will forever be a part of American collective cinematic memory: the great sea battle in which Ben-Hur, a galley slave, rescues his Roman Commander; and the spectacular chariot race between Ben-Hur and his life-long nemesis, Messala.

With some films as D. W. Griffith’s Intolerance, Ben-Hur epitomizes the grand, melodramatic sweep of America’s silent cinema. The Festival presentation will include either the sound-on-film score recorded in 1931 by the MGM studio orchestra or a live performance of the same.

Screening Details

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