Airing 8-10pm on Sunday, April 4 & 11, 2010
From CBC's site: (spoiler alert)
Ben Hur is a gut-wrenching, action-packed drama about the struggle between the Roman Empire and its occupied territory, Judaea. Two lifelong friends, Ben Hur and Messala, are caught in an awful moment of history that puts them on opposite sides of a war for Judaea’s national identity - and tests their characters to the maximum.
SYNOPSIS:Judah Ben Hur and Octavius Messala are best friends, growing up together in the Hur household in Jerusalem which is under Roman occupation. Then Messala is torn from the Hur family by his estranged father, a Roman senator, and called for military training in Rome. Years later, Messala returns to Jerusalem in charge of the Roman garrison. Ben Hur, now a successful trader, is betrothed to Esther.
There is an uprising against Roman rule on the day that Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judaea Province, arrives in Jerusalem. Messala, in charge of protecting Pilate, unjustly accuses Judah’s family of causing the disturbance. Messala makes a public example of them by sending Judah to slavery in the galleys and his sister and mother to prison.
Ben Hur spends three horrific years as a slave rower in a Roman galley ship. Believing that his mother and sister have been killed, his desire for revenge keeps him alive. One day, in a fiery and deadly battle with pirates, Ben Hur saves the life of the Roman Admiral, Quintus Arrius. The Roman is grateful and takes him back to Rome. When Arrius dies, Judah inherits Arrius’ wealth and name, becoming Sextus Arrius.
Determined to seek justice for the wrongs committed by Messala, Ben Hur returns to Jerusalem, knowing that Messala will attend the celebrated games there.
Ben Hur is reunited with Esther but his obsessive need to get vengeance by killing Messala keeps them apart. The perfect opportunity for Messala and Ben Hur to battle to death arises in the form of a chariot race. Esther is desperate for Ben Hur not to take part. She has discovered that his sister and mother are still alive and live as shunned lepers in a leper colony. Esther fears that Ben Hur might die before being reunited with them.
In a tense and exhilarating finale, Ben Hur and Messala take to the race track. Other charioteers are quickly run off the course as a terrifying and determined race ensues between these one-time friends.
Messala’s dirty tricks are turned against him and he is severely injured. Ben Hur is victorious, but still not at peace with himself.
It takes the discovery of his mother and sister, as well as a moving interaction with Jesus, to make Ben Hur realize that he must renounce the hatred and vengeance in his heart. At Messala’s deathbed, the two finally make peace with one another, allowing Ben Hur to once more find happiness with Esther.>>more details on Ben Hur