Behind the Scenes: Ben-Hur (1959)

Ben-Hur #8 (Wyler) (#29)

Ben-Hur was photographed using MGM’s 65mm anamorphic widescreen format, Camera 65.

At the time of its release in 1959, MGMS’s lavish quasi-biblical spectacle Ben-Hur was the most expensive film ever made, with a budget of nearly $16 million. The famed chariot race alone required an 18 acre set at Rome’s Cinecitta Studios, a five week shooting schedule and 7,000 extras. (continue for more behind the scenes pics)

A sprawling, decades-long epic following a Jewish prince (Charlton Heston) on a mission of vengeance and then redemption, Ben-Hur is based on an 1880 novel by Lew Wallace, himself a colorful character who served as a general in the Union army and also as governor of New Mexico during the Billy the Kid years. The film, directed by William Wyler (The Best Years of Our Lives, The Desperate Hours), won a record 11 Academy Awards. Below is a gallery of behind the scenes pics courtesy of the archives of Turner Classic Movies.

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