Ben Hur : 2016 Flop, 1959 Hit and 11 Oscars – Why? Since Messala and Ben Hur were Gay Lovers
The 2016 version was a flop .The 1959 version was a major hit and got 11 Oscars, all because of its “Gay Sub Text”
As the wheels fall off Ben-Hur, where next for the Hollywood blockbuster
Violence, slavery, high-speed chases, good versus evil – and all in Roman outfits. When it comes to blockbusters, the $100m Hollywood production, Ben-Hur, did seem to have more than a burly charioteer’s chance of winning the summer box office race.
Yet, as the dust settles on the tracks of all those hooves and wheels, the New Testament-era extravaganza is set to go down as one of the renowned flops of hoary Hollywood anecdote. Its probable losses look to be careering towards the $75m mark.
So Ben-Hur is clearly a good yarn, telling as it does the struggles of a young Jew, who is betrayed, meets Christ, and then serves as a Roman galley slave before becoming a charioteer and facing down his enemies. Why then did it fail to find an audience this time around? Instead of following on from the sand-stomping popular triumph of Gladiator in 2000, or the unexpected box office appeal of Mel Gibson’s gory faith-fest The Passion of the Christ .
And now, the real story
The Hidden Homosexual History Of “Ben-Hur”
Does the new remake keep the gay subtext?
It’s Hollywood legend that the 1959 version of Ben-Hur—that went onto win a record 11 Oscars—had a gay romance that many audience members never picked up on.
The hidden gay relationship between the two main characters was brought to light in the 1995 documentary The Celluloid Closet when Gore Vidal revealed that he was brought on the film as a script doctor and rewrote scenes to “hint heavily at a prior sexual relationship between Charlton Heston’s title character and his childhood friend (and later betrayer) Messala (Stephen Boyd),” reports The Guardian.
After Vidal’s comments the film’s star Charlton Heston wrote to the Los Angeles Times blasting him for tarnishing a Hollywood classic with homosexuality—but Heston didn’t know about the relationship between Ben-Hur and Messala because no one told him before the shoot. Vidal did confirm that “he had discussed the matter with Boyd, who duly followed the screenwriter’s lead for the key scene in which the boyhood chums meet again after many years apart.”
Even director William Wyler came around to Vidal’s reasoning for the need of a past romance between the two characters.
Vidal explained this in his letter to the L.A. Times:
“Over the years, I have told the story of how, faced with a hopeless script for Ben-Hur, I persuaded the producer, Sam Zimbalist (this was an MGM film and the writer worked not with the director but the producer; later the director, in this case William Wyler, weighed in) that the only way one could justify several hours of hatred between two lads – and all those horses – was to establish, without saying so in words, an affair between them as boys; then, when reunited at picture’s start, the Roman, played by Stephen Boyd, wants to pick up where they left off and the Jew, Heston, spurns him.”
“This is the scene that was shot and this is the scene that viewers of The Celluloid Closet watched, with my commentary. Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan wrote that “seeing an appropriate clip makes a strong case for the truth of Vidal’s assertion that Boyd was in on the scheme while Heston was not.”
So does the new Ben-Hur remake keep the gay subtext intact?