Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ben Hur - Live

It was a cold day, 4 deg C outside, so wrapped in our pullovers and jackets, we set out to watch the much anticipated ''Ben Hur - Live'' at the Olympiahalle in Munich; having purchased the tickets more than 2 months ago.

(click on the pictures for a better view - tip for the not-computer-friendly people)

Intro:
The show had popular names when it was first advertised and the website boasted of a lot of numbers - right from costs of production to types of animals/birds used. It creates the effect needed but I think it also pushes expectations to levels that might leave a slight tinge of disappointment at the end of the show.















Story:
You have seen the movie, right ? For those who haven't, Messala and Judah Benhur are childhood friends who grow up to have different political views, the former in favour of the Roman empire and the latter in favour of the Jews. One thing leads to another and Judah ends up in the galley as a slave while his mother and sister end up in prison because of Messala. Judah swears revenge - how he manages to do that and how he is reunited with the family is the rest of the story and as in countless movies, the ''taking revenge'' part is made all exciting; with a chariot race in an arena in Rome.
















So why is this called the tale of the Christ ? when Judah is sent to the galley, he is beaten up and lies nearly dead from thirst and Jesus offers him water. Judah repays this kindness by offering water to Jesus before the cruxifixion. Judah's sister and mother, who are affected by leprosy, are cured by Jesus and Judah is touched by Christ's love and message (shown in pic above).....subam.
















Plus:
- The top place is taken by the chariot race (arena shown in pic, have no good pics of the race itself - horses speed > camera shutter speed) and the gladiators fighting. The sad part is that this only takes about 15 minutes of the 2 hour show.
- The stage props, their assembly, disassembly all coordinated to the second ! Brilliant ! The houses, the ship are all represented extremely well and accompanied by really good music and lighting.
- Messala and Judah - Both the actors were really good and looked the part.
- Horses - beautifully kept, wonderfully trained horses !
- Doves - they practically flew where they were asked to and returned to the cage ! was quite a sight to watch !
















Minus:
- Too much drama and less action: The broschure is kind of misleading. I think I am being biased here because I have been pampered by the Stampede (not people dying.....its a rodeo) in Calgary where I enjoyed a 45 minute chuckwagon race - completely real and adrenaline-pumping ! That day, I actually understood why people get addicted to horse racing. I have also been pampered by the Ritterturnier at Schloss Kaltenberg, where one gets to see jousting, sword fighting and horse riding at its best (check out the link, you will be completely amazed !! I was gaping the whole time and the show lasted 1 hour !! should write about it....)

- Too many people: At any given time there were around 50 people in the arena. I understand that it is a city (Jerusalem or Rome) but like in the movies, you expect to give your attention to only the hero and heroine or the hero and the villain

- Too many themes: One can see that they have had trouble deciding what sections of people to satisfy, there are acrobats, fire spitters, dancers and almost everyone from a circus....every scene lasted a few minutes and you never know where to look and you can find the hero/heroine or the hero/villain only if you are really focussed.

- the narrator in the black suit (show is in latin, narration in German). How difficult would it be to give the narrator a costume too ?

On the whole, an enjoyable show that falls a little short of expectations.
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