Ben-Hur.jpg (8425 bytes) Ben-Hur Film Assignment

Like an author or artist, film directors have a specific purpose in mind before they begin their work. While an writer might begin with a blank sheet of paper, and a sculptor with a solid piece of marble, the director has at his or her disposal a number of variables to communicate the intended message: the words actors will say, the music an audience will hear and the visuals the audience will see. Because they are working with so many elements, their job becomes incredibly difficult. Yet because it appeals to so many senses, the impact of a director's film can surpass any other type of communication.

Ben-Hur is a film that does just that. Based on a book by Civil War General Lew Wallace and the winner of more awards than any other film in history, Ben-Hur is historical fiction: while the story we see and hear may have never taken place, the events could have given the things we know concerning the historical events that form the backdrop of the film.

The director here, William Wyler, has a formidable task: To analyze the causes and effects of a clash between two monumental ideas. To tell this story, he uses two characters to represent the differing ideas and their differing worlds.

Given that purpose, your assignment is this: During the course of the film (in our case, 5 days), choose four (4) scenes that, in your opinion, are crucial to the development of the purpose of the film. For each scene, record the names of the characters involved, the location of the scene within the film (for example, what key events occurred before and after this scene), and the relationship between the scene and the stated purpose above. Suggestion: Keep notes during the film. You may not know the significance of a scene until days after it occurs. Use your notes to refresh your memory. This assignment is to be typed and handed in on the day after we finish the film.