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http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/wyler.htm
U.S. 1959

The accolades could fill this page - Ben-Hur won a record 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director (Wyler), Actor (Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur), Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith as Sheik Ilderim), Cinematography, Music Score, Costume Design, Film Editing, and Special Effects (which are still still surprisingly effective) - recently been ranked as one of the one hundred greatest films of all time - the final climactic scene has become a part of film lore - It featured more crew and extras than any other film before it. It took At $15 million and shot on a grand scale, it was a tremendous make-or-break risk for MGM Studios. It took six years to prepare before the film was to be shot, and over a half year of on-location work in Italy, with thousands of extras. Legendary William Wyler’s three and a half hour, wide-screen epic adaptation of General Lew Wallace’s Biblical era classic was a last desperate attempt to save MGM/UA from going under in 1959. The result: an immensely impressive and emotionally exhausting masterpiece that eclipsed all other epics, before of since. To see this golden-age cinematic craftsmanship in a theater becomes an unforgettable experience - one that would sparked a love affair with film that continues to endure. out of

Gary W Tooze

Posters 

Original 1925 silent Feature (included in the 4-disc CE) - Posters

Theatrical Release: November 18th, 1959

Reviews           More Reviews         DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Warner Europe (4-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL vs. Warner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC vs. Warner - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Warner - Region 2/4 - PAL vs. Warner (50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Lance Lawton and  Ole of DVDBasen and Henrik Sylow for the PAL Screen Caps!

1) Warner Europe (4-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL LEFT

2) Warner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Warner - Region 2/4 - PAL - FOURTH

5) Warner - 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

  

 

  

  

  

U.S., U.K. French and Japanese Blu-ray edition packages

     

Distribution

Warner Europe

Region 2,4,5 - PAL

Warner Studios

Region 1  - NTSC

Warner Studios

Region 1  - NTSC

Warner Studios
Region 2/4 - PAL
Warner Studios
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 2:16:03 (disc1) + 1:17:14 (disc2) = 3:33:17 (4% PAL speedup) 2:21:40 (disc1) + 1:20:45 (disc 2) = 3:42:25 2:21:45 (disc1) + 1:20:48 (disc 2) = 3:42:33 2:16:04 (disc1) + 1:17:33 (disc2) = 3:33:37 (4% PAL speedup)

Disc One: 2:21:52.754

Disc Two: 1:20:34.204

Video

2.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.50 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

2.74:1 Original Aspect Ratio 16X9
Average Bitrate: 6.58 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

2.76:1 Original Aspect Ratio 16X9
Average Bitrate: 6.10 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

 

2.76:1 Original Aspect Ratio 16X9
Average Bitrate: 6.23
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Disc One

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Size: 41,855,335,408 bytes

Feature: 40,068,753,408 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 27.90 Mbps

Disc Two

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Size: 23,556,749,979 bytes

Feature: 22,661,959,680 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 27.79 Mbps

 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Warner Europe

 

Bitrate:

Warner NTSC (4-disc)

Bitrate:

Warner R1

 

Bitrate:

Warner R2, R4

Bitrate:

Warner Disc 1 Blu-ray

Bitrate:

Warner Disc 2 Blu-ray

Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital English (384 Kbps), 5.1 Dolby Digital German (dub), 5.1 Dolby Digital Polish (VO), 5.1 Dolby Digital Spanish (dub) English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)

English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0

English (Dolby Digital 5.1)

English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0

English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3510 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3510 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Czech 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Polish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Hungarian 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
* Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Subtitles English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Greek, Turkish, Hebrew, Czeck, Polish and None English, Spanish, French, None English, Spanish, French, None English, Italian, French, Spanish, German, Italian for the Hearing Impaired English, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Denmark

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.78:1

Edition Details:
• Disc 1&2: Commentary by film historian T. Gene Hatcher with scene-specific comments from Charlton Heston
• Disc 3: The 1925 feature-length silent version of Ben-Hur with a stereophonic orchestral score by co
• (2:22:51 / 4% Pal / 1.31:1 / Bitrate 4.57 / 39 Chpt)
• Disc 4:

• 2005 documentary: Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema - Current filmmakers such as Ridley Scott and George Lucas reflect on the importance and influence of the film
• 1994 documentary: Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic hosted by Christopher Plummer
• Directed by William Wyler - 1986 Emmy Award? -nominated documentary featuring the last interview with Wyler before his death
• Ben-Hur: A Journey Through Pictures - New audiovisual recreation of the film via stills, storyboards, sketches, music and dialogue
• Screen Tests: Leslie Nielsen and Cesare Danova, Leslie Nielsen and Yale Wexler, George Baker and William Russel
Highlights from the 4/4/1960 Academy Awards ceremony
• Vintage newsreels gallery
• Theatrical trailer gallery


DVD Release Date: November 7, 2005
Digipack Box

Chapters 61

 

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Studios
.

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.74:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by film historian T. Gene Hatcher with scene-specific comments from Charlton Heston
• Music-only track
.

Disc 3:
• The 1925 feature-length silent version of Ben-Hur with a stereophonic orchestral score by composer Carl Davis

Disc 4:
• 2005 documentary: Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema - Current filmmakers such as Ridley Scott and George Lucas reflect on the importance and influence of the film
• 1994 documentary: Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic hosted by Christopher Plummer
• Directed by William Wyler - 1986 Emmy Award? -nominated documentary featuring the last interview with Wyler before his death
• Ben-Hur: A Journey Through Pictures - New audiovisual recreation of the film via stills, storyboards, sketches, music and dialogue
• Screen Tests: Leslie Nielsen and Cesare Danova, Leslie Nielsen and Yale Wexler, George Baker and William Russel
Highlights from the 4/4/1960 Academy Awards ceremony
• Vintage newsreels gallery
• Theatrical trailer gallery

.

DVD Release Date: September 13th, 2001
Thick VHS sized case holding 5-tiered digipak

Chapters 61

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Studios
 

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.76:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Charlton Heston
• Documentary Ben Hur: The Making of an Epic (58 minutes)
• Newly discovered screen tests of the final and near-final cast including Leslie Nielson, Cesare Danova, and Haya Harareet
• Addition of the seldom-heard Overture and Entr'acte music
• On-the-set photo gallery featuring Wyler, producer Sam Zimbalist, cameraman Robert Surtees, and others
• Widescreen anamorphic format

 

DVD Release Date: March 13th, 2001
Snap Case

Chapters 61

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Studious

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.76:1

Discographic Information:
• Region 2/4 encoding 

Edition Details:

Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Charlton Heston
Featurette-Making Of-Ben-Hur - The Making Of An Epic
Featurette-Screen Tests
Gallery-Photo
Theatrical Trailer
Notes-Awards

 

DVD Release Date: August 2001
Transparent Amaray

Chapters 61

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Studios
.

Aspect Ratio: 2.759:1

Disc One

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Size: 41,855,335,408 bytes

Feature: 40,068,753,408 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 27.90 Mbps

Disc Two

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Size: 23,556,749,979 bytes

Feature: 22,661,959,680 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 27.79 Mbps

Edition Details:
• Commentary by film historian T. Gene Hatcher with scene-specific comments from Charlton Heston
• Music-only track
.

Disc 3:
DISCS 1 AND 2: MOVIE
• The 1959 Winner of a Record-Setting 11 Academy Awards®* – Including Best Picture, Actor (Charlton Heston) and Director (William Wyler) – Restored Frame by Frame from the Original 65MM Camera Negative and Remastered in Stunning 1080p High Definition for Maximum Picture and Audio Clarity
• Commentary by Film Historian T. Gene Hatcher with Charlton Heston
• Music-Only Track Showcasing Miklos Rozsa’s Award-Winning Score
• Theatrical Trailers
 

DISC 3: SPECIAL FEATURES
NEW FEATURE-LENGTH DOCUMENTARY CHARLTON HESTON & BEN-HUR: A PERSONAL JOURNEY
• Retrospective on the Ben-Hur Star Written and Directed by His Son Fraser C. Heston,Featuring Never-Before-Available Images and Footage from the Heston Family Archives
• THE 1925 SILENT VERSION – Thames Television
• Restoration with Stereophonic Orchestral Score by Carl Davis
• Vintage Documentaries Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema and Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic
• Ben-Hur: A Journey Through Pictures – Audiovisual Recreation Via Stills, Storyboards, Sketches, Music and Dialogue
• Screen Tests
• Highlights from the 1960 Academy Awards® •Telecast
• Newsreels
MONUMENTAL COLLECTIBLES!
CHARLTON HESTON: THE BEN-HUR DIARIES
Reproduction of Charlton Heston’s Personal and Insightful Diary from January 1958 to April 1960, Chronicling His Time Before Production Started Through the Academy Awards
EXCLUSIVE BOOK WITH RARE PHOTOS, PRODUCTION ART AND REPRODUCTIONS FROM THE ORIGINAL THEATRICAL PRESSBOOK

.

Blu-ray Release Date: September 27th, 2011
Custom Blu-ray case (see above)

Chapters 39 + 22

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray - September 11': I'll be brief as I'd like to live with this 3-disc, 50th Anniversary Blu-ray set over the weekend before writing extensively on it. I've watched the film, in the pitch blackness of my Home Theater, and it is... VERY impressive. I was blown away - and I'll included strong mention to the lossless audio. This was, obviously, from a 65mm film source - reportedly restored frame-by-frame - and is a new transfer from the previous DVD - that may have come from 1080i - but this is 1080P in all its glory and around a 2.75:1 aspect ratio. Even things like the 'Overture' title are visually inspiring. Many scenes can appear truly overwhelming. The Blu-ray transfer brings Ben-Hur  to another level of home theater appreciation. WOW!

I've received a lot of questions in the past couple of weeks so I'll make some brief points for the ultra-curious.

The film is, indeed, spread over two Blu-ray discs (a dual layered and a single layered) and the third BD disc (also single-layered) has the bulk of thee extras (beyond the commentary and isolated score etc. which reside on the feature disc)

For those who inquired, I'm sorry the 1925 Silent version is still in 480i with a 5.0 Mbps bitrate - and did not get the 1080 transfer many had desired.

In the feature - colors are significantly tighter and reds and golds look incredibly impressive contrasting the deep black levels. This gives the wide scope a powerful presence.

The enclosed book is beautiful - quite a keepsake and filled with information and vintage photos.

I will post more next week - as I sift through the supplements., however - Initial reporting is a huge thumbs skyward!

- Gary W. Tooze

***

COMMENTS FOR EUROPEAN DVD EDITION (2005)
All things aside, the two editions are the exact same transfer. There are microscopic differences, but these aside, everything is the same in color, contrast, details and so forth.

But the frame is not. The US edition has 2.74:1 versus the European 2.78:1. Looking closer the US edition is cropped 1.25% left/right, approx 5px each side (10px@800px), most likely during transfer. A curious difference never the less.

The biggest difference is however the missing Music Only track on the European edition. It is sadly missed. The PAL edition, as usual, has more subtitle and DUB options.

It is still not a perfect transfer, and wont be until HD-DVD. Colors bleed and blend. Just look at how the red of the Roman soldiers robe bleeds into his white shirt in Image#1.

On Disc 3, the restored silent version, the European PAL version displays the same problems with combing, but not to the same "jerky" degree as on the Region 1-4 US version (see comparison).

Henrik Sylow

***

ADDITION: Warner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC - September 05 - stated as New digital transfer from restored 65MM elements and correspondingly one of the most anticipated releases of the year (a year filled with great releases!).

Firstly, this review will be a work in progress as there is a lot of information to go through. We will update as we divulge more and report it here. The initial releases comparison was one of our first but we maintained the same standards for capture quality but we did not implement 'first frame' so that it is possible that our captures may not be exact matches. We have tried our best and I think it will not detract from making determinations about the new release.

Two issues - Color and cropping - it appears as though the older releases (both NTSC and PAL) were significantly cropped on the sides and less-so on top and bottom too OR the new has been 'opened up' - I prefer to think the former. The ratio is still maintain at around 2.75:1. Colors are decidedly different and we will reserve the right to judge these as we investigate further.

The extras speak for themselves and the inclusion of the 2:22:25 long 1925 version (see below) is inspired! Although the downside is that it is non-progressive and has interlace issue (see capture with 'combing' below). It still looks very good, relatively clean and sharp!

The commentary by Gene Hatcher is a new one but the scene specific ones from Heston are a repeat of the older editions.

Initial impressions - the new release is brighter and has some of the anamorphic molding that can soften an image, but it still looks very good.

Ben-Hur was originally shown with 6-track-magnetic audio (left, left-center, center, center-right, right and mono-surround), so a 5.1-mix can be made from that. But as far as I know, the 5.1-track from the old DVD was an upmix from a stereo source and not from the 6-track sources. We believe the new issue has improved upon that. To my ear it sounds more defined.

NOTE( thanks Brian) "Directed by William Wyler - 1986 Emmy Award? -nominated documentary featuring the last interview with Wyler before his death" does not appear on the current Collector's edition.
I can't tell you why. I have contacted Warners and have had no reply to date. Also it is worth mentioning that this extra is still quoted on Warners' Ben Hur web page.

***

Both very strong transfers and there is little difference between the 2 DVDs. The Region 2,4 disc does not have:

  • Theatrical Teaser Trailer (2:27 minutes)
  • Filmographies for selected cast and crew

    The Region 1 disc does not have:

  • Transparent Amaray case (snapper case)

Image and sound quality are the same and the only difference between the two is the case really. Both are DVD18s (Dual layer, Two sided). Both have excellent transfers. The 4% speed-up of PAL can make a slight difference: The R4 version runs 3:33:37 minutes, while the R1 runs 3:42:33 minutes.

- Gary W. Tooze





 

DISC 3 - SILENT VERSION

(Warner Europe (4-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL LEFT vs. Warner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC RIGHT)

 


DVD Menus

Warner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC + Region 2,4,5 - PAL BELOW


 

Warner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC + Region 2,4,5 - PAL BELOW

(Disc 3)


  NOTE: Combing is prevalent (non-progressive)

 

Warner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC + Region 2,4,5 - PAL BELOW

(Disc 4)


 

DVD Menus (initial releases)

(Warner Studios - NTSC  LEFT vs. Warner Studios - PAL - RIGHT)


 

Warner - 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures - Subtitle Sample - Warner - 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

 

1) Warner Europe (4-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Warner - Region 2/4 - PAL - FOURTH

5) Warner - 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM



1) Warner Europe (4-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Warner - Region 2/4 - PAL - FOURTH

5) Warner - 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Warner Europe (4-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Warner - Region 2/4 - PAL - FOURTH

5) Warner - 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Warner Europe (4-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Warner - Region 2/4 - PAL - FOURTH

5) Warner - 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Warner Europe (4-Disc Special Edition) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL TOP

2) Warner (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC SECOND

3) Warner - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Warner - Region 2/4 - PAL - FOURTH

5) Warner - 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

DVD Box Covers

  

 

  

  

  

U.S., U.K. French and Japanese Blu-ray editions

     

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...

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