Paramount Pictures has today released the first featurette for Ben-Hur, the remake of the Charlton Heston led Oscar winning classic. Directed by Wanted‘s Timur Bekmambetov, the movie looks surprisingly good (whether or not it will be is another matter) and will hopefully turn talented Boardwalk Empire star Jack Huston into a household name.
This version of Ben-Hur will play up the parallel storyline of Jesus Christ, but the main drama is actually the blood feud between Judah Ben-Hur and Messala, who grew up best friends before the Roman Empire took control of Jerusalem. Ben-Hur was a Jewish prince and Messala the son of a Roman tax collector, but after the latter leaves to be educated in Rome for five years, the young man returns with a different attitude and mocks Judah and his religion.
When a procession passes by Judah’s house and a roof tile accidentally falls and hits the governor, Messala betrays his childhood friend and manipulates the accident so that Judah is sold into slavery and certain death on a Roman warship, with his mother and sister thrown in prison for life. Judah vows revenge, culminating in the famed chariot races you can see here.
The rest of the movie’s cast is made up of Toby Kebbell as Messala, Nazanin Boniadi as Esther, Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus, Pilou Asbaek as Pontius Pilate and Morgan Freeman as Ilderim.
Ben-Hur is currently set to be released worldwide on August 19th, so expect the marketing blitz for this one to kick off very soon.