‘Wanted’ director Timur Bekmembatov is set to crack the whip on a new version of ‘Ben-Hur’

09.20.13 4 years ago 24 Comments


There is no weirder trend right now than the sudden resurgence of the Biblical epic.

Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” sounds like one of the weirdest movies of all time. The script was fascinating, a hybrid of a moral tale and a monster movie,and Ridley Scott is evidently gearing up to make a Moses movie with Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, and Aaron Paul called “Exodus.”

I’m not sure I understand the sudden urge. If the idea is to try to reach out to traditional conservative Christian groups, I’m not sure hiring the directors of “Wanted,” “Requiem For A Dream,” and “Black Hawk Down” is the way to do that. At least with Aronofsky and Scott, they’ve demonstrated some range as filmmakers in the past. Bekmembatov, on the other hand, is a sensation junkie ADD lunatic. That’s not necessarily a negative judgment, just an observation. There are very few people who would have ever approached something like “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” with the straight-faced utter lack of humor that he did, and the idea of him shooting something like a new souped-up version of the chariot race from “Ben-Hur” is so decadent that I almost can’t contain my glee.

I have seen every version of “Ben-Hur” over the years, and I confess that I don’t see the appeal in telling the story again. Keith Clarke, who wrote the Peter Weir film “The Way Back,” wrote this new version as a spec, which is possible since the book was published in 1880. MGM bought the script for Sean Daniel and Joni Levin to produce, and they’ve been working to pin down Bekmembatov for the better part of a month.

Ultimately, none of this really matters if Bekmembatov ends up having a great take on Clarke’s script, and if the script is really strong. There’s no such thing as foolproof source material, and likewise, just because I don’t see the appeal in something, that doesn’t mean someone else didn’t have a brilliant vision for how to make the story both relevant and exciting. I would love for Aronofksy’s “Noah” to be brilliant, and I would love to see Bekmembatov bend his deranged visual sensibilities to something that really challenged him as a piece of writing. I guess we’ll see, since it sounds like MGM wants to move forward on this quickly.

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