Ben Hur DVD Due in March
Big screen owners will get to see Ben Hur in its full widescreen glory. Shot in MGM's Camera 65 format, the film's original aspect ratio is 2.76:1, the widest ever shown theatrically, more than twice as wide as the 1.33:1 ratio of ordinary television sets. Home viewers "will be able to see the film in its original theatrical format aided by the increased clarity and detail the DVD format's resolution provides," according to a Warner Home Video announcement.
A tale of revenge by a Jewish prince unjustly sent into slavery by an ambitious Roman administrator, Ben Hur is unquestionably one of the greatest action dramas of all time. Released in 1959, MGM's $15 million epic won 11 of 12 Academy Awards for which it was nominated in 1960, including Best Picture, Best Musical Score, Best Sound, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Special Effects, and Best Set Design/Set Decoration.
The film also won a Best Director award for the prolific William Wyler and a Best Actor award for Charlton Heston, in his greatest role. The DVD offers 68 minutes of extras, including a recently recorded commentary by Heston about his experience with the project. Also included are screen tests for cast members and some actors who were not selected, as well as rarely heard music written and recorded for the film and a documentary about its creation. The G-rated Ben Hur runs 3 hours 42 minutes.
"We're proud to be releasing this DVD of Ben-Hur," said Mark Horak, WHV's senior vice president, marketing. "In addition to being digitally transferred and enhanced for widescreen TV, the disc has a new Dolby Digital soundtrack remix, and the results are spectacular. We are also especially pleased that Charlton Heston has recorded a new commentary relating his experiences on the production."
Online retailers are already taking orders for the DVD, some offering substantial discounts off the suggested retail price. Some even state that it will be available on March 1, two weeks ahead of the official Warner Home Video release date. WHV will soon add a Ben Hur page to its website.