Wildly popular from the day it was first published, Wallace’s novel reamined the highest selling work of fiction in the U.S. until Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind was released in 1936.
The first motion picture version of Wallace's novel was actually produced way back in 1907. It was what is known as a “short” as it is only 15 minutes in total length. By contrast, the 1925 version was a feature-length adaptation and is considered a classic of the silent film era. It is the 1959 version, however, which is universally considered the best of the bunch.
Everything about the 1959 film was over the top - from the use of 200 camels to 2500 horses to 10,000 human “extras”. The c. $15 million price tag (unheard of at the time) paid off handsomely, however. In its initial release alone, it took in nearly $150 million (or ten times what it cost to make).
More to the point, it was nominated for twelve Oscars from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and took home an astounding eleven Academy Awards. At the time, this was simply unprecedented. The film also garnered numerous Golden Globe, BAFTA, and similar awards.
Those familiar with the story line of either the novel or the movie know that the crucial point of the plot is the famed chariot race between Judah Ben-Hur, played by Charlton Heston, and a Roman officer named Messala, played by Stephen Boyd.
The race itself consumes over nine minutes of film time in the 1959 release. To this day, it lives in the annals of Hollywood as perhaps the finest example ever to result from using a motion picture camera in order to record an action sequence.
Many stories have emerged from the filming of this one scene alone. One claims that a stuntman died during the filming. This appears to have actually happened in the 1925 version; but not in the 1959 version. Another story is that Charlton Heston’s wristwatch can be seen while he is driving the chariot. But careful scrutiny shows that he has on leather bracers up to the elbow.
Yet another story has emerged involving a supposed conversation between Charlton Heston and Director William Wyler. Bryant Wright of “Right from the Heart” Ministries recounts a popular version of this story:
During the filming of the old classic movie, Ben Hur, Charlton Heston had a terrible time learning to drive the chariot.
When it came time to film the key sequence of the chariot race, Heston told the director, “I think I can drive the chariot, but I don’t think I can win the race.”
The director replied, “You just drive, and I’ll see to it that you win.”
Dr. Wright then adds these thoughts:
Wouldn’t it be great if we could be assured of victory in life? Wouldn’t you like to know that, even though the circumstances don’t always seem to be in our favor, the ultimate outcome would be positive?
I have good news for you. This principle does hold true. Those who place their trust in Jesus Christ, who seek to follow His guidance and direction for living, can be sure of ultimate victory through eternal life. Live life God’s way. He assures the victory.
How right Dr. Wright is! The business of driving a four-horse chariot was likely all-consuming for actor Charlton Heston. But that was his only job. The matter of winning the race was up to a greater authority – the one who wrote the script.
In a similar way, the Bible is full of examples of men and women who learned that all they needed to do was to stay faithful in the midst of the struggle of life. That was all they were called to do. It was God Who would turn their faithfulness into victory.
This was true of David in the Old Testament struggling against lions and bears and a giant named Goliath and a king named Saul and whole Philistine armies. It was also true of Paul in the New Testament struggling against Jewish believers who did not trust him, Roman authorities who did not tolerate him, and Gentile prospects who did not know what to make of him and his message.
To their credit, both men remained faithful in their respective struggles. And both men were eventually rewarded with victories that exceeded their wildest expectations! The same holds true for you and me. If we will only stay faithful in the small things, God will then handle the big things. If we will only do our part, God will certainly take care of the rest.
I leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul, who in his Second New Testament Letter to Timothy (chapter 4, verses 7 and 8) said:
7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day...
STORY SOURCE: http://rightfromtheheart.org/devotions/the-assurance-of-victory/.
INFORMATION SOURCES: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben-Hur_(1959_film)
#Cast and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052618/.
NOTE: This exchange is often erroneously attributed to leading man Charlton Heston and famed Hollywood director, Cecil B. DeMille. See, for instance, http://www.sermonillustrator.org/illustrator/sermon15/making_sure_we_win.htm. (Multiple accounts cite "a book by Mary Hollingsworth" as the original source of this illustration without ever giving the actual title; but I have been unable to ascertain exactly what book this is.) More to the point, Cecil B. DeMille did not direct the movie. Perhaps for this reason, the historicity of the very conversation has oftentimes been called into question (cf.: http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=3113).
Nonetheless, in a 2007 Esquire Magazine article by John H. Richardson posted
online at https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a929/esq0701-july-heston-rev-3/, Charlton Heston himself affirms that the conversation did indeed occur. However, he states that the conversation actually unfolded between him and his stunt double, and not the movie's director.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/niv/2_timothy/4.htm.