Char­iot of fire

Hide your os­cars, Ben-hur is back

Empire (UK) - - PREMIERE - Will lawrence

here are few se­quences in cin­ema his­tory as spec­tac­u­lar as the char­iot race from 1959’s Ben-hur. re­mak­ing it seems like an act of folly, but Timur Bek­mam­be­tov, the brave soul who’s giv­ing it a go with the new Ben-hur, has an ace up his sleeve. and, sur­pris­ingly, it’s not just a CG ace. “Our tech­nol­ogy is now far away from what they had pre­vi­ously,” the rus­siankazakh di­rec­tor tells Em­pire, “and the rigs we have are un­be­liev­able. The goal for me is to shoot th­ese ac­tion scenes so real­is­ti­cally that the au­di­ence feels that they’re in the char­iot, driv­ing.”

Em­pire bears wit­ness to the film­maker’s am­bi­tion, from the stands of a newly con­structed Cir­cus Max­imus built at rome’s Cinecittà Stu­dios. The story’s two great ri­vals, Ju­dah Ben-hur (Jack hus­ton) and Mes­sala (Toby Kebbell) snap and snarl as their racing rigs, with su­per-small wheels, are dragged be­hind cam­era trucks, while hun­dreds of ex­tras clap and cheer in the stands. Later on, real horses re­place the trucks. “and th­ese char­i­ots have got no sus­pen­sion, no brakes,” con­tin­ues Bek­mam­be­tov. “we have eight driv­ers, 24 horses, all run­ning to­gether. The dust and shit flies every­where. It is scary.”

The ’59 Ben-hur, the first film to win 11 Os­cars, has been re­made be­fore (he­ston voiced a 2003 an­i­ma­tion), but fill­ing epic san­dals isn’t easy. “The last film was this gi­ant, so you don’t want to make a crappy movie,” says hus­ton. “You want to make some­thing special. I feel we’re do­ing that.” The race is on.

ben-hur is out on au­gust 26.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.