Now, behold, I release you today from the chains on your hands ~Jeremiah 40:4 -- is the Biblically inspired opening of the most recent movie trailer of an American historic action film remake entitled Ben-Hur, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Huston, slated to be released in theaters Aug. 19, 2016. The movie elevates Christian themes of justice, liberty and radical forgiveness, as well as a classic story about rising above adversity.
"Ben-Hur is a movie that is what Christians have been asking for. A real Hollywood epic with a legitimate Christian worldview," wrote author Brian Godawa. "It has some fantastic action sequences that rival anything in recent blockbusters, and in ways far more human and interesting than most of those gluttonous orgies of overspent excessive CGI comic book world destructions. Ben-Hur is more like Saving Private Ryan and better for it."
Bursting with action - including a new chariot race for the ages - the film promises to tell the tale of Judah Ben-Hur (played by actor Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (actor Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title and separated from his family and the woman he loves (actress Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery and despair.
After five years at sea, a breath-taking turn of events sends Judah on a journey back to his homeland to seek revenge, where a chance encounter with Jesus of Nazareth (actor Rodrigo Santoro) transforms his life and leads him to discover grace, mercy and ultimately, redemption.
The movie was directed by Timur Bekmambetov, and written by Keith Clarke and John Ridley. It is the fourth film adaptation of the 1880 novel "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ" by Lew Wallace following the 1907 silent film, the 1925 silent film and the Academy Award-winning 1959 film of same names.
It has been termed a "re-adaptation", "reimagining" and "new interpretation" of the novel. Principal photography began on Feb. 2, 2015 in Rome, Italy, and lasted for about six months, finishing in August 2015. The film is scheduled to be released in the United States in 2D, 3D, RealD 3D and Digital 3D and IMAX 3D.
Diane Howard of the Austin Movie Examiner said the following about the movie: "AXS/Austin Movie Examiner has screened the new 'Ben-Hur' and interviewed Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, the directors, as well as leading actors and can easily predict that this film will be the seminal movie for this summer, as it serves in stunning locations with real, powerful action and great depth of heart."
The film has also been endorsed by a wide range of Christian leaders from across the denominational lines and ethnic groups:
"You will be lifted out of your seat, transported into a time and place beyond your expectations, and your heart will be moved by the depth of Jesus' power to change our lives for the better."
Cardinal Seán O'Malley, OFM, Cap., Archdiocese of Boston *
.."a clear and poignant message of faith and forgiveness."
Wilfredo "Choco" de Jesus, Pastor, New Life Covenant Church, One of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People *
".. a movie that will give hope to people who are just trying to survive."
Rick Warren, Senior Pastor, Saddleback Church *
".. a movie of reconciliation for broken families."
Rick Warren, Senior Pastor - Saddleback Church *
"It moved me! Breathtaking!"
Joe Brown, Exec. Director, Christian Youth Film Festival *
Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition Pastor, Iglesia El Calvario *
"A thrilling, epic film."
Bobby Gruenewald, Pastor - Life Church / YouVersion Bible*
"Ben-Hur is spectacular in every way and is sure to become an instant classic." - Joel Osteen, Senior Pastor, Lakewood Church *
"A classic epic is made new again in the Year of Mercy."
-Sister Rose Pacatte, Sisrter Rose at the Movies