Film Score Monthly
FSM HOME MESSAGE BOARD FSM CDs FSM ONLINE RESOURCES FUN STUFF ABOUT US  SEARCH FSM   
Search Terms: 
Search Within:   search tips 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 4:16 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

I've been listening repeatedly to this splendid close of the score of this monumental film. It is so terribly evocative, for me, of the experience of seeing it in the cinema when I was only about 10 and the effect of it was overwhelming for me. I don't remember my other family members feeling like they were walking or air as I was; having absorbed the total image and musical experience at that tender age I knew what it was like to be in the realm of something absolutely wonderful: I still get that feeling today listening again to it!! It was the beginning of a beautiful love affair with cinema.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMus8Ro9Xvk

 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 6:16 AM   
 By:   RoryR   (Member)

I first saw Ben-Hur when I was ten, in a 1969 theatrical reissue, but I rarely make it to the end these days.

 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 7:31 AM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

Hi there, Regie.

Interesting choice. This is, of course, not from the actual film soundtrack. I'm familiar with it in the sense this was from the double LP album, the only source available to me for years before the advent of the CD. It's a perfect example of post film composer blues, where they get to orchestrate what they felt was lacking in style from the time pressed and 'content agreed' scoring sessions, but with the throttle full on THIS time round.

What makes this particular example of note is the power exerted by the mixed choir. It raises the hair on one's head. My favorite aspect is from 2:12, during the climactic blast from both the choir and orchestra, particularly at 2:40 onwards. The actual equivalent scoring from the film is much more 'contained,' and without the inherent exuberance of your example. The film version is, therefore, of a more sobering nature, whereas the album has greater intensity at plateau. We can argue why the film version didn't let rip in the same way for pages and pages. wink

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 8:01 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

This is of course the Savina recording (MGM Records 1E-1) and not the Rhino soundtrack album as pictured. The difficulties of YouTube accreditation and licensing are beyond my comprehension -- perhaps beyond anybody's!

I agree that the music from about 2:15 here to 2:40 is sublime. But it's not an "outburst." It's a wonderfully executed bit of thematic development that transitions from the dolorous lepers' theme ("The Mother's Love") to the Christ theme in its final "Alleluia" form. The musical development thus encapsulates the theme of healing that is central to the movie.

Fascinating to read Ralph Erkelenz's account of the multiple takes and revisions that went into creating this seemingly unified musical finale: Go here http://www.miklosrozsa.org/ and look under Features for Ben-Hur Analysis / page 183.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 8:36 AM   
 By:   waxmanman35   (Member)

I don't remember my other family members feeling like they were walking or air as I was; having absorbed the total image and musical experience at that tender age I knew what it was like to be in the realm of something absolutely wonderful: I still get that feeling today listening again to it!! It was the beginning of a beautiful love affair with cinema.

I first saw the film in its roadshow release at the Loew's State in Manhattan. I was 12 at the time and carried no real memory of it when I saw it again in 1969. It was shown in 70mm at the Palace Theater on Broadway, and the refurbished theater's screen did not encompass the entire Camera 65 picture width. But the stereo sound was magnificent! After it concluded I also experienced that "walking on air" feeling, and remarked on it to a companion. He replied "it's very uplifting, isn't it?" The finale sequence is a sublime marriage of film and music.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 8:41 AM   
 By:   John B. Archibald   (Member)

I saw BEN HUR in its premier roadshow presentation, at the Warner Theater in Pittsburgh. I must have been 10 or 11. Incredible experience. Looking back, the element of it that captured me was the re-creation of the Roman world. I just loved that. And the music, where Rozsa created all those fanfares and marches. (I hadn't seen QUO VADIS, and wouldn't, for at least another 5 years. You had to wait for reissues in those days.)

I still love the ending, when Heston says, "And I felt his words take the sword out of my hand." The last words spoken in the film, actually. Then he climbs the stairs to his final redemption, to meet his mother and sister, and the film ends, triumphantly, with the shepherd leading his flock, in front of the, presumably, rising sun of the Dawn of Christianity.

I've never been much of a Christian, actually. But I loved all those religious spectacles back in the 50's and 60's. No one makes anything like them today. Audiences would be unlikely to accept them the way they did then.

Ah well.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 8:42 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Hi there, Regie.

Interesting choice. This is, of course, not from the actual film soundtrack. I'm familiar with it in the sense this was from the double LP album, the only source available to me for years before the advent of the CD. It's a perfect example of post film composer blues, where they get to orchestrate what they felt was lacking in style from the time pressed and 'content agreed' scoring sessions, but with the throttle full on THIS time round.

What makes this particular example of note is the power exerted by the mixed choir. It raises the hair on one's head. My favorite aspect is from 2:12, during the climactic blast from both the choir and orchestra, particularly at 2:40 onwards. The actual equivalent scoring from the film is much more 'contained,' and without the inherent exuberance of your example. The film version is, therefore, of a more sobering nature, whereas the album has greater intensity at plateau. We can argue why the film version didn't let rip in the same way for pages and pages. wink


Yes, it's funny you should say that because the whole thing did seem 'fuller' than what was put in the film. Longer too. But the whole melody - and the use of modality - is very stirring to me and I have the image of that shepherd walking across the shot right at the end. I love it. Of course, as somebody has suggested, the film is heavy going for repeated viewings - but I love the scene "where the beams cross" and the extraordinary, nuanced performance of Boyd. It's the 'chariot race' and the music which bring me back to the film, again and again.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 8:53 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

I don't remember my other family members feeling like they were walking or air as I was; having absorbed the total image and musical experience at that tender age I knew what it was like to be in the realm of something absolutely wonderful: I still get that feeling today listening again to it!! It was the beginning of a beautiful love affair with cinema.

I first saw the film in its roadshow release at the Loew's State in Manhattan. I was 12 at the time and carried no real memory of it when I saw it again in 1969. It was shown in 70mm at the Palace Theater on Broadway, and the refurbished theater's screen did not encompass the entire Camera 65 picture width. But the stereo sound was magnificent! After it concluded I also experienced that "walking on air" feeling, and remarked on it to a companion. He replied "it's very uplifting, isn't it?" The finale sequence is a sublime marriage of film and music.


Thanks for sharing your wonderful memory. I'm so glad to find somebody who gets it about 'walking on air'. I was exactly the same with the Rodgers & Hammerstein films - particularly in Todd-AO - and the marriage of music and splendid image. The screen seemed so much bigger when I was a child. But the music was tremendously significant in the experience. My very first film encounter was at age 6 or 7 when I saw "The King and I". I regard this as a seminal moment because not only did I have nightmares about "run Eliza, run" it was the symbiosis between acting, image and music which seduced me right away. And, as a very early teenager, "Hatari" and that phenomenal music involving drumming and zithers and such like!

 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 8:57 AM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

The part that sticks with me is the camera tracking over the rain swept ground, with Christ's blood being washed out from the central ground of Golgatha to, presumably, the corners of the world. Very stirring music there, too.

http://www.filmmusicnotes.com/thematic-transformation-in-rozsas-score-for-ben-hur/

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 9:08 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

The writing for those epic and biblical films was often very good - some not so good, though.

I love the scene in "Ben Hur" with Hugh Griffith when he introduces Judah to "my beauties"; those absolutely beautiful horses and Griffith's charismatic, seemingly improvised, performance. The film was a little like opera without the singing in that the music developed the grandeur, themes and intimate motivations - even though the film itself had enough to 'say' on that score as well(no pun intended). I still dissolve into tears watching the film again on DVD when the water is given to Judah by (presumably) Christ. That's a tender moment and an otherwise quite brutal narrative.

Another thing; the playing in these soundtracks was always superb. There's an incandescent quality - a kind of white heat - which emerges, particularly from this little extract at the end of "Ben Hur". These studio musicians (probably from the LAPO) were second to none and they drive the music with the kind of intensity that you'd occasionally hear in classical music from a conductor like the great Carlos Kleiber (1930-2004). Very impressive indeed.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 11:28 AM   
 By:   Ralph   (Member)

I've been listening repeatedly to this splendid close of the score of this monumental film. It is so terribly evocative, for me, of the experience of seeing it in the cinema when I was only about 10 and the effect of it was overwhelming for me. I don't remember my other family members feeling like they were walking or air as I was; having absorbed the total image and musical experience at that tender age I knew what it was like to be in the realm of something absolutely wonderful: I still get that feeling today listening again to it!! It was the beginning of a beautiful love affair with cinema.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMus8Ro9Xvk


Your immersion was also mine. Was 12, attending a Roman Catholic grammar school in Chicago, and had to sell ten boxes of Xmas cards to get to see “Ben-Hur” during its initial roadshow at the Michael Todd, which provided Saturday morning screenings to metro and suburban students. The 2016 “Ben-Hur” is a puny experience in comparison.

You might enjoy http://nowreviewing.com and click Roadshow.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 12:04 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

I've been listening repeatedly to this splendid close of the score of this monumental film. It is so terribly evocative, for me, of the experience of seeing it in the cinema when I was only about 10 and the effect of it was overwhelming for me...It was the beginning of a beautiful love affair with cinema.

***
I first saw Ben-Hur when I was ten, in a 1969 theatrical reissue, but I rarely make it to the end these days.

***
A Sunday "Matinee"--With BEN-HUR!

Posted by Howard L on June 23, 1998 at 08:03:06

If you've ever seen Matinee you may recall the scene of Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman) explaining to teenager Gene (Simon Fenton) all about the magic of movies and making movies. They have just exited a hardware store and begin schmoozing along the downtown streets. Underneath is one of my favorite all-time Goldsmith cues ("Halfway Home" on the audiocassette) which lends the scene a sense of wonder with a touch of melancholy. Finally, the camera becomes a 'character' in tandem with Woolsey's voiceover as they enter the palace, the temple...the theatre.

Sunday afternoon I went to Tampa Theatre. This cinema palace, built in 1926, "during its early days presented extravagant vaudeville shows, concerts by the Theatre Orchestra, and silent films. With the advent of sound pictures in 1929, Tampa Theatre presented all the latest Hollywood 'talkies'." There is an old fashioned balcony in addition to a classic oversized theatre organ. And when the lights go down and the picture comes up, the ceiling is transformed into a starry night with gentle wisps of cloud.

The picture this day was Ben-Hur. After so many years and countless TV viewings, to see it on the big screen at last in all its restored glory...the Ben-Hur theme following the Christ theme in "The Burning Desert," "Friendship," the "Love Theme," and of course the finale--oh that finale--never sounded nor looked this glorious. There emerged a new appreciation and respect for the artistry in the combined elements of film, sound, music, and editing in the "Rowing of the Galley Slaves" scene. The understated performance of the great Sam Jaffe as faithful steward Simonides in the reunion scene with Judah was a revelation. And how the audience cheered after Judah flipped end-over-end and yet miraculously steadied himself while driving the chariot, and how the cheers exploded when Messala finally got his!

Rozsa. Ben-Hur. Helluva day.

 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 1:35 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

Anyone familiar with Rozsa's FSM output in particular will spot one interesting trend.

Whereas he had masterful confidence in his titles and overtures, Rozsa seems to have often needed multiple attacks at the end sequences. Look how many 'alternative' Finales there are to so many films. Why? Different cuts for undecided directors? Certainly he had more angst over his endings than his entries, see 'Moonfleet'.

Ben-Hur is such. The original Miracle exists now only on the Kunzel Telarc and Decca NPO recordings. We also have alternate cut versions on FSM bonus material, and the album versions.

But NO TWO commercial recordings of this piece are identical. The OST, the Savina, the Kloss Lion, the Hamburg, the NPO London Decca, the Telarc, and the rejected OST sessions of course .... every one unique. Rozsa just couldn't put his palette away on this one, so there is no 'definitive' version.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 3:09 PM   
 By:   bobbengan   (Member)

Yup, there's no arguing around this one. Simply one of the finest, grandest things ever composed in all of music history. Only superlatives apply when discussing this score. Deeply depressing that we'll probably never hear music like this in Western cinema ever again.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 5:21 PM   
 By:   Loverozsa   (Member)

I saw "Ben-Hur" in its original roadshow release at the Town Theatre in Baltimore. It is still my favorite movie and
my first encounter with Miklos Rozsa. BH remains my favorite film and MR my favorite composer. The film and music still
have a profound impact on me even today. Looking forward to the Tadlow re-recording!

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 7:43 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

I've been listening repeatedly to this splendid close of the score of this monumental film. It is so terribly evocative, for me, of the experience of seeing it in the cinema when I was only about 10 and the effect of it was overwhelming for me. I don't remember my other family members feeling like they were walking or air as I was; having absorbed the total image and musical experience at that tender age I knew what it was like to be in the realm of something absolutely wonderful: I still get that feeling today listening again to it!! It was the beginning of a beautiful love affair with cinema.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMus8Ro9Xvk


Your immersion was also mine. Was 12, attending a Roman Catholic grammar school in Chicago, and had to sell ten boxes of Xmas cards to get to see “Ben-Hur” during its initial roadshow at the Michael Todd, which provided Saturday morning screenings to metro and suburban students. The 2016 “Ben-Hur” is a puny experience in comparison.

You might enjoy http://nowreviewing.com and click Roadshow.


Thanks for the brilliant link: I've put it into "My Favourites".

I don't know why they have to re-make some films, eg. "Ben Hur", "Psycho" or even "Cape Fear". How can you remake perfection?

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 21, 2016 - 7:46 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

I've been listening repeatedly to this splendid close of the score of this monumental film. It is so terribly evocative, for me, of the experience of seeing it in the cinema when I was only about 10 and the effect of it was overwhelming for me...It was the beginning of a beautiful love affair with cinema.

***
I first saw Ben-Hur when I was ten, in a 1969 theatrical reissue, but I rarely make it to the end these days.

***
A Sunday "Matinee"--With BEN-HUR!

Posted by Howard L on June 23, 1998 at 08:03:06

If you've ever seen Matinee you may recall the scene of Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman) explaining to teenager Gene (Simon Fenton) all about the magic of movies and making movies. They have just exited a hardware store and begin schmoozing along the downtown streets. Underneath is one of my favorite all-time Goldsmith cues ("Halfway Home" on the audiocassette) which lends the scene a sense of wonder with a touch of melancholy. Finally, the camera becomes a 'character' in tandem with Woolsey's voiceover as they enter the palace, the temple...the theatre.

Sunday afternoon I went to Tampa Theatre. This cinema palace, built in 1926, "during its early days presented extravagant vaudeville shows, concerts by the Theatre Orchestra, and silent films. With the advent of sound pictures in 1929, Tampa Theatre presented all the latest Hollywood 'talkies'." There is an old fashioned balcony in addition to a classic oversized theatre organ. And when the lights go down and the picture comes up, the ceiling is transformed into a starry night with gentle wisps of cloud.

The picture this day was Ben-Hur. After so many years and countless TV viewings, to see it on the big screen at last in all its restored glory...the Ben-Hur theme following the Christ theme in "The Burning Desert," "Friendship," the "Love Theme," and of course the finale--oh that finale--never sounded nor looked this glorious. There emerged a new appreciation and respect for the artistry in the combined elements of film, sound, music, and editing in the "Rowing of the Galley Slaves" scene. The understated performance of the great Sam Jaffe as faithful steward Simonides in the reunion scene with Judah was a revelation. And how the audience cheered after Judah flipped end-over-end and yet miraculously steadied himself while driving the chariot, and how the cheers exploded when Messala finally got his!

Rozsa. Ben-Hur. Helluva day.


Joy!! Thank you very much for sharing again. That Chariot Race continues to stagger me; amazing editing and fabulous cinematography. And the use of sound as a powerful adjunct. It actually quite closely resembles Fred Niblo's (silent) treatment from, I think, 1924 - when several horses were killed. That's really a very good film!!

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 3, 2019 - 1:00 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

It is being brought back to the big screen in a couple weeks...

https://www.fathomevents.com/events/tcm2019-ben-hur-60th-anniversary-1959

...and I am salivating at the prospect of the cinematic viewing this go-round topping that of two decades past. The screen will be bigger and the sound that much more sharp. This is going to be great!

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 3, 2019 - 11:50 PM   
 By:   Stovepipe46   (Member)

Without doubt my favourite film of all time. But for me it's not the end but the beginning. I attended a special showing for schools at the age of 12 and all pre film chatter and banter suddenly finished when the opening majestic chords of Miklos Rozsas magnificent overture boomed out through the newly installed sound system and the gasps from the kids when the curtains opened and revealed the huge screen. I still find time to play it at least once a year.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 4, 2019 - 6:11 AM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Oh you can be sure that the beginning is what has got me juiced at this very moment. I want the sound system turned all the way up. Nothing like being bathed in cinematic glory, like in the last half hour of CE3K.

It's nice the way this thread developed into first experiences of B-H at the movies. At different ages and all.

 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
© 2019 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.