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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
is the return of the king bigger than ben hur? (in terms of epicness)


Sep 13 2013, 10:58am

Post #1 of 6 (372 views)
is the return of the king bigger than ben hur? (in terms of epicness) Can't Post

this is just a thoughts thread. both movies are classics, epic, and arguably two of the best ever produced in the world! (if not the best two) But what do you believe is better? no bias because this is the one ring.net that is all for Tolkien. personally I believe Ben hur is way more bigger. the set pieces were huge, and the amount of people that were used in each scene was amazing! plus the music is just sheerly epic! but in saying that Return of the king was just as good. but which do you believe is better??

"fingolfin looked up in grief to see what evil morgoth had done to maedhros"


Sep 13 2013, 2:33pm

Post #2 of 6 (217 views)
Production vs Story [In reply to] Can't Post

When you say epic, do you mean terms of the production involved in making the films or the actual story/narrative contained within?

Then again, can you categorize Return of the King as a single film? If we were to do so, then I'd say Ben Hur surpasses it in terms of production: sets, extras, etc - but as a story, Return of the King has a more "epic" scope, entailing entire societies and characters within a world - rather than centering around one character.

However, if we were to take The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a single film production, then I'd say it also surpasses Ben Hur (in story, first of all), but also in production terms - the scale and size of making these three films (which can be considered as being one), surely must make it rise beyond Ben Hur...

At least, that's just my opinion. Smile

Though, I believe Ben Hur is a classic too and a very particular film in its own right, that stands out from many others.

'A Tolkienist's Perspective' Blog
'How Peter Jackson inches closer to making 'The Silmarillion'


Sep 13 2013, 3:41pm

Post #3 of 6 (254 views)
Ben-Hur = Epic. ROTK = Not. [In reply to] Can't Post

The American Film Institute (AFI) defines "Epic" as "a genre of large-scale films set in a cinematic interpretation of the past". Thus the AFI classifies Ben-Hur as an Epic film.

The AFI defines "Fantasy" as "a genre where live-action characters inhabit imagined settings and/or experience situations that transcend the rules of the natural world." Thus the AFI classifies ROTK as a Fantasy film.

(See http://www.afi.com/.)

Anyway, some numbers:

LOTR: 20,602 extras +10,000 voices from cricket match
Ben-Hur: 50,000 extras

LOTR: 114 speaking roles
Ben-Hur: 365 speaking roles

LOTR: 15,000 costumes
Ben-Hur: 100,000 costumes

The disparity continues with other categories.

Ben-Hur would seem to win as far as quantifiable "epicness" is concerned.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Sometime hours and hours hence:
In The Green Dragon two ales could buy
And drank the one less filling I
And that has made all the difference.
- The Ale Less Filling, by Robert Frostymug


Sep 14 2013, 10:09pm

Post #4 of 6 (173 views)
well... [In reply to] Can't Post

Of course in those days CGI did not existed so all the "epicness" has to be filled with REAL extras. That's the main difference.

But I think if we took only what we see in the final result, ROTK ends up being more bigger (and epic.)

"The World is Changed, I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air"


Sep 17 2013, 4:52pm

Post #5 of 6 (128 views)
ROTK = epic fantasy [In reply to] Can't Post

Return of the King certainly qualifies as a large-scale film, regardless of whether its set in the past (which according to Tolkien, it is Wink) or in a fictional setting. The AFI is hardly the ultimate arbiter of film genres though. They have plenty of weird classifications, and others such as Filmsite.org disagree and would classify LOTR as an epic. For what it's worth, I have no problem calling LOTR a fantasy film, but I think it's also an epic and it undoubtedly has more in common with Ben-Hur than such AFI-labeled fantasy films as It's a Wonderful Life or Field of Dreams.

I haven't seen Ben-Hur in years so I'm not sure if I'd put it above ROTK or not in terms of scale, but I have to bring up Lawrence of Arabia as a contender for the title of greatest epic film. Setting scale aside for the moment, it is (IMO) a better film than Ben-Hur or ROTK. Also, as far as number of extras go, Gandhi probably takes the cake for that with over 300,000 extras in the funeral scene. Gandhi's another excellent epic film.

There's a feeling I get, when I look to the West...

(This post was edited by Eldorion on Sep 17 2013, 4:56pm)


Sep 17 2013, 6:50pm

Post #6 of 6 (155 views)
Another one to throw in... [In reply to] Can't Post

would be Cleopatra (Liz Taylor one). Except that that film is an example of grand scale, but not that great of reception. But it still fits in the discussion, I feel.


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