I would like to devote a special comment thread to Haya Harareet, the actress who played Esther and is the only surviving member of the cast.

She gave a beautiful, sensitive, fully-nuscianced performance as Judah Ben-Hur's love interest. Some people have criticized her as "wooden" but I disagree. I find her subtle, low-key acting style perfectly suited to the quiet, shy, reserved and serious person Esther is. Also she serves as a 180 degree opposite to Heston's more flamboyant, melodrammatic style. And of course she was beautiful. That long, raven hair, graceful figure, big dark eyes and rich, deep, melodious speaking voice. Her career was unfortuanetly cut short a few years after Ben-Hur--how stupid Hollywood is.

In my opinion, her finest moments are:

1. When Judah comes home from Rome and reveals himself to her--the look on her face is unforgettable as she drops her kitchenware. As he approaches she's trembling like a leaf. (Stammers quietly, can hardly control her voice.) "Y-y-y-y-yyouu youu are allivvee. You are ALIVE!!!) And then she almost faints in his arms.

Judah: Where's your father.

Esther: Upstairs. The day you were imprisoned, the Romans took him too. They tortured him. When they were sure he was hiding nothing, (Watch how her lower lip trembles) they...they let him go. Ever since that day (Tear trickles down her cheek) we have been living here in hiding.

2. When she goes upstairs and tells her father the wonderful news of Judah's miraculous survival. The way she tries to compose herself.

3. Judah: (stony deadly stare) If they are dead Messala will wish they were living.

Esther: I have seen enough of what hatred can do. My father is burnt up with it. But I've heard of a young Rabbi who teaches that love is more powerful than hatred. I believe it.

4. (The second half of the film) When she tries to comfort him after having been to Pilate's.

"I want to tell you about the rabbi we saw on the hill."

Judah: (with scorn) Bathasar's word.

Esther: He is MORE than Balthasar's word. His voice carried (emphasizes every word) with such a CLEAR and POWERFUL purpose.

5. Judah: No man will be clean until he is washed of the filth of ROME!

Esther: In blood?


Esther: I know the law. Vulture breeds vulture, jackal breeds jackal and dog begets dog. But the voice I heard on the mountaintop said "Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you and pray for those who despitefully use you."

6. Same scene. She really kicks butt here.

"It was Judah Ben-Hur I loved. What has become of him? You seem to be the very thing you set out to destroy. Hatred is tearing you apart. It is as if YOU had become MESSALA!!!" Tell him girl!!!

Any thoughts?