Ben-Hur – The Chariot Race

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

An evening pause: This clip is actually only the last half of the chariot race scene from Ben-Hur (1959), still one of the greatest action sequences ever put on film. And not only was it on film, but they did it without any computer animation. What you see is real, real horses and real chariots and real actors and real very skilled and brave stunt men. (See this short film on how the even earlier 1925 silent-era epic film Ben-Hur version was made, in a similar manner.)

If you get the chance, watch the 1959 film. Truly a great Hollywood epic.

Hat tip Phil Berardelli, author of the new edition of Phil’s Favorite 500: Loves of a Moviegoing Lifetime.


  • Phill O

    For rodeo goers, this is pretty good. The Austin Manitoba has two horse chariots for most of the races but occasionally one can catch a two person (4 horses each) in a race. Pretty intense! No cutters on wheels though.

  • Phil Berardelli

    That moment in the first quarter of the video where the horses and chariot must jump over the wreckage features stunt coordinator and second-unit director Yakima Canutt’s son subbing for Charlton Heston. Though he was injured, miraculously he managed to hold on after being thrown forward. Then director Wyler shot a cut-in where Heston climbs back into the chariot. Astounding, but that was the only mishap in the entire 10-day shoot.

  • Phill O

    Amazing! When men were men and Hollywood was right.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *