The chariot sequence and, surprisingly, the crucifixion are the big highlights. Rome stands in for fascism and explicit anti-semitism, meant to bring Nazis to mind, but Hollywood loves Ben-Hur for its violence not its heart. Also funny that the power of concealment directly connects Jesus to leprosy (e.g. shadows over their faces, shot from behind/from far away). Editing is tight, mostly. Galleys and Rome lulls.
Although in many respects it has waned -one reason is Heston's monolothic acting- Wyler's Biblical epic retains its force and grandeur simply through the sheer magnitude of production, the extras, the costumes, the marvellous set design (as in the dance scenes). The chariot race is filmed in glorious 70mm and the energy put on the screen in this and other sequences cannot leave even hostile spectators indifferent.
3-3.5. Generally a very dense, exciting movie large in scope, with debates about God and nationality texturing the characters and theme. But God also proves to be a bit of an achilles heel when the movie drags on about forty minutes past the resolution of its big conflict to indulge in the horror and rapture of the lynching/ascension of Jesus. Really, the movie should have ended with Judah forgiving Messala instead.
A solidly mounted but po-faced thick ear of a film. Like so many of these sword and sandal epics, it presents a tub-thumping faux reverence for its cod religiosity which would be bad enough let alone at well over three hours. The well-oiled male skin provides knowing distraction if not subtext.
The chariot scene is a work of art, and it has to be one of the most epic scenes in cinema history. The production design is astounding, as you'd expect from a film with a record-breaking budget for its time. But the rest is overly dramatic and the final hour is so preachy and cheesy it is hard to keep watching.