MGM continues to move forward on its new adaptation of the 1880 Lew Wallace novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of The Christ, and it appears that the studio has a rather visually-inclined director in mind to tackle the redo. Deadline reports that Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter director Timur Bekmambetov is in talks to direct the Biblical epic, which was of course previously realized onscreen by director William Wyler in the Charlton Heston-fronted 1959 classic Ben-Hur. MGM’s new adaptation is said to be more faithful to the book and diverges heavily from the Heston film, as it will also tell the parallel tale of Jesus Christ in addition to the Ben-Hur story. Hit the jump for more.
For those unfamiliar, the premise of Ben-Hur centers on the relationship between Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem, and his friend Messala, a commanding officer of the Roman leigons. As the story progresses following their childhood friendship, tensions rise and Messala betrays his friend, playing a key role in getting Judah sold into slavery. The new film will focus on the story of Judah and his quest for revenge, but it will also include the story of Jesus Christ, whom Judah encounters several times. The script apparently follows the Christ story all the way up through his death sentence and crucifixion.
Deadline cautions that the negotiations with Bekmambetov might not work out in the end, but it’s clear that MGM is keen on moving forward with the redo. Bekmambetov is coming off the forgettable Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and previously toyed with the idea of helming the Thomas Edison pic The Current War, but Ben Stiller is now in talks to direct that pic. He is also attached to direct the Michael Bay-produced “aerial pirates” movie Heatseekers.