I’ve written a couple of times about the currently filming remake of Ben-Hur (Paramount, 2.26.16), which is being directed by Russian low-life Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). In a recently posted chat with Immersed in Movies’ Bill Desowitz, Bekmambetov indicates that in some respects Ben-Hur “will be just as edgy and cutting edge as Unfriended,” which Bekmambetov produced. The Russian helmer makes it especially clear that his version of the chariot-race sequence will be markedly different than William Wyler’s.
Jack Huston (Judah Ben-Hur) and Nazanin Boniadi (Esther) during filming of Timur Bekmambetov’s Christian-pandering Ben-Hur.
“I’m using more of YouTube videos to find ideas and style for the camera work and how people behave,” the director said. “The chariot race today is like Formula 1. It’s a different technique, with a lot of whip pans and zooming [and VFX by Mr. X].” Desowitz mentions that “there’s an assortment of digital cameras being used on the movie — Red, Alexa, GoPro.”
Bekmanbetov and his cast have been shooting in Italy and at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios.
From a 9.22.14 post, titled “BenHur Knee-Deep in Christian Swamp”: “This Mark Burnett and Roma Downey production, a downmarket pitch to none-too-sharp Christians, is a metaphor for the general degradation of film culture.
“However profitable Ben-Hur may turn out to be, releasing it in February is an obvious admission that the film won’t be good enough to compete in the summer or post-Labor Day award season. The producers might as well take out a trade ad that says ‘we’re going low-rent here, guys…forget the upscale, blue-chip William Wyler signature of yore…we’re re-shaping the tale so it will simultaneously have lots of gratuitous action while appealing to hinterland sophisticates.”