Even if you had seen Ben-Hur in 1959 during its first-run 70mm roadshow engagements, it's doubtful you would have seen (or heard) a spectacle quite as stunning as this 8K digital restoration Warner Home Video has completed after more than a year of meticulous work for its Blu-ray debut in honor of the film's 50th anniversary. The innumerable qualities of William Wyler's stupendous winner of 11 Academy Awards demand to be seen on the giant screen in the original 2.76 aspect ratio, and this theatrical premiere of the restored version provides audiences of all ages the rare opportunity to marvel at Hollywood maximally lavish, stirring and exciting epic entertainment, capped by the chariot race that has never been topped for breathtakingly real (that is, non-CGI) thrills. Charlton Heston won an Oscar for his role as Prince Judah Ben-Hur whose spiritual and muscular strength best Rome's own. Miklós Rózsa's indispensable score will be heard in its full glory in 6.0 stereo. The film will be introduced by the director's daughter, Catherine Wyler, and the star's son, Fraser Heston. A Warner Home Video release.
Why you should see Ben-Hur: NYFF Spotlight.
On Saturday, October 1, the New York Film Festival had the honor of premiering the extraordinary 8K restoration by Warner Brothers of BEN-HUR.
The film played magnificently in Alice Tully Hall, but somewhere around 35 minutes there began to be synch drift between image and sound. This drift unhappily got worse, until we stopped the projection. The film, which was being projected on DCP, was then re-booted to the server, after which the synch drift was corrected.
We have determined that the problem seems to have been in the Alice Tully Hall server, even though this server had functioned perfectly well on Friday evening for two screenings well as in a technical run of BEN HUR Saturday morning prior to its 10:30 am screening. That server has now been replaced.
We want to emphasize that the synch problems were entirely due to the Alice Tully Hall server, and not at all due to the materials given to us by Warner Brother. We are deeply grateful to our friends at Warner Brothers, with whom we have worked often, for allowing us to include BEN HUR in this year's New York Film Festival.
We apologize to our audience; we always make every effort to make sure that all our offerings are presented as perfectly as possible, yet occasionally problems arise that are simply unexpected or beyond our immediate control. Happily, the greatness of BEN HUR, especially in this extraordinary restoration, still shone through, making this unique screening an unforgettable experience for all who were there.
Richard Peña, Program Director
The Film Society of Lincoln Center