What do you remember about the movie "Ben-Hur?"

By: J. Reinoehl
Image: Test Hero Credit

About This Quiz

"Ben-Hur" won a record 11 Academy Awards—something only recently tied with "Titanic" and "Lord of the Rings." How well do you remember "Ben-Hur?" Find out by taking this quiz!

Whose birth was shown at the very beginning of the movie?

Jesus Christ's birth was shown at the beginning of the movie. "Ben-Hur" cost MGM more money than any other film at the time, $14.5 million. They needed the movie to be a success, or the studio would have failed.

What did Messala give Tirzah?

"No, it's Libyan. I was there last year… It's a brooch for a woman."

Who took command of the Jerusalem outpost to replace Sextus?

Messala was one of the last people cast, and he only had a couple of weeks to learn how to drive the chariot and study the script.

What did Judah refuse to do for Messala?

"I would do anything for you Messala, except betray my own people… If I cannot persuade them, that does not mean I would help you murder them."

What did Ben-Hur take from Esther and promise to wear until he was married?

He took Esther's slave ring. Americans played the members of Ben-Hur's family, but the actress who played Esther was Israeli. Actors from English-speaking countries (especially Great Britain) got the other roles.

How often did Simonides return home?

"Once a year, you bring your accounting. Once a year, I find myself wealthier. Yes, but my greatest treasure is my steward."

How did Judah first meet Jesus?

The director ensured that the camera never saw Jesus' face. Jesus appeared in the beginning of the movie walking in the hills, but the first time Jesus met Judah was when Jesus offered him water.

Why did Messala imprison Ben-Hur?

"But the tile was loose, and it fell and struck the governor… It was an accident."

How many rowers were on the ship where Ben-Hur was a slave?

There were 200 rowers. The oars were on elastic tethers, which made them difficult to pull.

What number was Ben-Hur on the slave ship?

"You have the spirit to fight back, but the good sense to control it. Your eyes are full of hate, 41. That's good. Hate keeps a man alive."

What did Quintus Arrius do to Ben-Hur when they went into battle?

Arrius did not chain Ben-Hur to the ship. The ship was a full sized galley, and it was placed in a large tank to sink it. The ramming point was a predesigned breakaway section.

What did Quintus Arrius offer Ben-Hur as a way out of rowing chains?

"I'm a fighting man by profession, and in my leisure time it amuses me to train fighting men. I own some of the best gladiators and charioteers in Rome. Would you like to become one of them?"

Who played Judah Ben-Hur?

Charlton Heston (October 4, 1923—April 5, 2008) began his career acting in theaters in New York. His first film was Peer Gynt (1941), but he is probably best known for his roles as Moses in "The Ten Commandments" and the title role in "Ben-Hur."

Finish the quote: "In His eagerness to save you, ____________________."

"It was a victory? …In His eagerness to save you, your God has also saved the Roman fleet."

What honor did Quintus Arrius eventually bestow on Judah?

Although Arrius adopted Ben-Hur as a son, Roman law would have forbidden this act. Slaves could be adopted as sons, and inherit as sons, only if they had not become slaves after having been found guilty of a crime. Since Ben-Hur had become a slave this way, he would have had to remain a slave forever in Rome, or he could have been released and been treated as a conquered "subject," as long as he stayed 100 miles away from Rome.

After what did the sheik name his horses?

"They have descended from the Arabian races for the pharaohs, and I have named them for the stars."

Who was living in Judah's house when he returned to Jerusalem?

They kept retaking the scene where Judah came home and found Esther, her father, and her father's friend living in his abandoned house. The first time they did it, Ben-Hur's foot hit a pot, but the cameraman was not in the right position. Because the director wasn't vocal about why he was doing things, Heston thought he didn't like the pot sound and avoided it—when, in fact, that was the effect the director kept trying to get again.

Why didn't Esther marry?

"My father needed me… If Messala once knew you were here,.."

What became of Judah's mother and sister?

Nerve disease that affects skin.

Why did Esther lie to Judah?

Leprosy (Hansen's Disease) was one of many skin diseases that required Jewish people to live apart from the community. Leprosy deforms those it infects, which was why Miriam made Esther promise not to tell Judah. Today, the disease is treatable but can cause severe long-term effects if treatment is not begun soon enough.

What did the Arab sheik want to do?

"As you know, of course, I am a gambling man… I am racing my whites against the noble Tribune's magnificent undefeated blacks, but I will back my own poor horses."

What color was Ben-Hur's cape when he was racing Messala?

Lining up for the race, when Ben-Hur wore a blue cape, was the first scene shot in the movie. Heston said the most difficult part was getting the chariots around the corner in a straight line during the procession.

What odds did the sheik get?

"You, Tribune, will you give me 4:1? …Good."

Who was the Emperor of Rome?

"Citizens, I welcome you to these games in the name of your Emperor, the divine Tiberius. We dedicate them to his glory and to the glory of Rome, of which you are all a part.

What was dangerous about Messala's chariot?

Others referred to Messala's chariot as a "Greek" chariot because of the spikes on its wheels. Ironically, it was acceptable only in Roman races to try to knock your opponents off the track or cause them to crash.

Who won the race?

Ben-Hur won the race. When he fell out of the chariot after his horses jumped the wrecked chariot, his stuntman was almost killed because he failed to fasten his belt to a provided hook. Boyd (Messala) and Heston (Ben-Hur) were the only inexperienced chariot drivers in the race.

What operation did Messala want to put off until Ben-Hur saw him?

"To hack the legs off me? Not yet. Not till I've seen him."

How did Judah find out where his mother and sister were?

Messala told Judah on his deathbed. No one was really killed while filming the race scene, although sometimes this rumor surfaces because of the realistic crashes.

With Messala dead, who or what did Ben-Hur next blame for his mother and sister's disease?

"The deed was not Messala's. I knew him well before the cruelty of Rome spread in his blood. Rome destroyed Messala as surely as Rome has destroyed my family."

Who else was visiting lepers when Judah went to see his family?

The Valley of Lepers was filmed at the Salone Caves, which was a marble quarry near Rome. They said these caves were responsible for making Rome marble instead of brick.

To whom did Esther compare Ben-Hur after hearing the Sermon on the Mount?

"You seem to be now the very thing you set out to destroy… Hatred is turning you to stone. It's as though you had become Messala."

What did the blind man do with the money Ben-Hur gave him?

The blind man dumped the money on the ground. At one point in history, lepers were given special money so they would not spread the disease through it.

Which character did Martha Scott play?

Martha Scott (September 22, 1912—May 28, 2003) was chosen for Miriam after the initial actor in the role could not drop her British accent. Scott also played Charlton Heston's mother in "The Ten Commandments."

What did Ben-Hur do to try to help Jesus?

Ben-Hur gave Jesus a drink of water. The water theme ran throughout the movie—from the time Ben-Hur was thirsty as a slave, to the ramming of the galley on the water, and after the visit to the leper colony where Ben-Hur said he was thirsty.

Where did the women take shelter from the storm?

They took shelter in a cave. After Lew Wallace wrote "Ben-Hur" and it became a success, it was first turned into a stage production complete with chariots on treadmills and a sea battle using cloth waves. Twenty million people saw it.

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