Vintage original 8 x 10 in. US single-weight glossy photograph from the epic historical silent film drama BEN HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST, released in 1925 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and directed by Fred Niblo.The image features an exterior medium shot from the film's celebrated chariot race sequence inside the Circus Maximus set as the Roman officer Messala (Francis X. Bushman) holds a whip while driving his chariot as he looks at his opponent, Judah Ben-Hur (who is off-camera), while other drivers and their horses tear through the arena. Of interest is that this photograph was printed with a much larger bottom border in order to create a "widescreen" effect to the image itself before the process of a widescreen format came into being in the 1950s. It is in very fine- condition.
*"Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a 1925 American silent epic adventure-drama film directed by Fred Nibloand written by June Mathis based on the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by General Lew Wallace. Starring Ramon Novarro as the title character, the film is the first feature-length adaptation of the novel and second overall, following the 1907 short.
Shooting began in Rome, Italy in October 1923 under the direction of Charles Brabin who was replaced shortly after filming began. Additional recastings (including Ramon Novarro as Ben-Hur) and a change of director caused the production's budget to skyrocket. After two years of difficulties and accidents, the production was eventually moved back to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Culver City, California and production resumed in the spring of 1925. B. Reeves Eason and Christy Cabanne directed the second unit footage.
Production costs eventually rose to $3,900,000 ($60,260,000 today) compared to MGM's average for the season of $158,000 ($2,440,000 today), making Ben-Hur the most expensive film of the silent era.
A total of 200,000 feet (61,000 m) of film was shot for the chariot race sequence, which lead editor Lloyd Nosler eventually cut to 750 feet (230 m) for the released print. Film historian and critic Kevin Brownlow has described the race sequence as "breathtakingly exciting, and as creative a piece of cinema as the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin", a Soviet film also released in 1925 and directed by Sergei Eisenstein, who introduced many modern concepts of editing and montage composition to motion-picture production. Visual elements of the chariot race have been much imitated. The race's opening sequence was re-created shot-for-shot in the 1959 remake, copied in the 1998 animated film The Prince of Egypt, and imitated in the pod race scene in the 1999 film Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
Some of the scenes in the 1925 film were shot in two-color Technicolor, most notably the sequences involving Jesus. One of the assistant directors for this sequence was a young William Wyler, who would direct the 1959 MGM remake. The black-and-white footage was color tinted and toned in the film's original release print. MGM released a second remake of Ben-Hur in 2016. In 1997, Ben-Hur was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
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