Make no mistake — Ben-Hur is not great art. But it is great fun. Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), a contemporary of Jesus, is a Jewish prince in Roman-ruled Judea newly reunited with his boyhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd). Messala, a Roman, has just returned from the empire’s capital to reign as tribune, a sort of lieutenant governor, of Judea. These old pals now find themselves separated by politics — one is the ruler, the other the ruled.