Ben-Hur (1959)

48 mistakes

(2 votes)

Add something

Continuity mistake: Ben-Hur places his crown on a table when he visits the fallen Messala, but upon returning the table and crown are gone. (00:36:35)

Revealing mistake: During the chariot race, where the contestants are riding towards the screen, tyre tracks from the camera vehicle are clearly visible imprinted in the sand. (00:20:50)

Revealing mistake: When one of the ships collides with the other, you can clearly see that the rowers being hit are dummies. (01:19:00)

Continuity mistake: During the race, when Ben Hur is about to defeat Messala, his opponent's wheel disintegrates. However, as the chariot flips over, we see a complete wheel on both sides. (00:28:20)

Revealing mistake: There is a hex bolt holding the spikes to the chariot wheel hub. (00:14:10)

Continuity mistake: One of the first shots in the picture is a wide angle establishing shot showing a street scene in Jerusalem, with milling people, animals, etc. A tall figure in the background is slowly walking toward the camera. The figure is Charlton Heston, and the shot is an earlier segment of a shot used later in the movie when Ben-Hur is returning home from a trade expedition. Heston's costume is the same, but he's only clearly recognizable in the second sequence. Since the two scenes are set 33 years apart, perhaps the earlier figure is Ben-Hur's father. (00:07:40)

Continuity mistake: When Judah takes rest on his way to Jerusalem funny things happen with his headgear. First, when he lies down it suddenly disappears under his head. Then he falls asleep, and when Balthasar from Alexandria approaches him a little later and he quickly gets up there is nothing under his head and back. (01:38:00)


Continuity mistake: When Judah goes to the place where the leper lives, a man tells him it's a cursed place and puts a lettuce or a cabbage on a plate. It has disappeared the shot later.

Dr Wilson

Continuity mistake: Count the number of chariots that start the race. Then count the chariots that get thrown out and the number that finish - there's one too many. There are 9 at the start, 6 get thrown out, and 4 finish.

Deliberate mistake: During the chariot race, the chariots crash together but the arrangement of the horses make it impossible for them to actually collide. In some instances (particularly in an aerial shot as Ben Hur and Messala round the turn) it is obvious that they repositioned the shaft of the chariot to between the first and third horses instead of being in the centre between the second and third.

Revealing mistake: When Stephen Boyd is showing off the spikes on his chariot wheel you can see welding beads along the projecting hub.

Continuity mistake: When Judah comes back to his house and meets Esther, the curls over her forehead change several times throughout the scene. (00:52:00)


Revealing mistake: When the slaves are walking through the desert on their route to Tyros, in several scenes it's obvious that a double is standing in for Charlton Heston as Ben-Hur.

wizard_of_gore Premium member

Revealing mistake: During the race Judah runs into the remains of another chariot and almost falls off the cart. You can see that the guy who is doing the handstand on the railing is a stuntman. (00:26:15)


Continuity mistake: During Ben Hur and Messala's duel on the chariots, Messala's wheel-scythes tear away most of the right hand side of Ben Hur's chariot. When Messala has been thrown and Ben Hur crosses the finish line a few moments later, however, the camera has zoomed out far enough to reveal that his chariot is perfectly intact.

Factual error: The galley during the battle scene is rowed by slaves. Romans during this time period didn't use slaves to row their galleys. Rowers had to be able fight. If not, the Romans would be outnumbered 200 to 30 when they boarded the pirate ship as the pirates rowers would be able to fight.

Factual error: The actors and stunt drivers use only two reins to control the four horses that pull each chariot in the race. However, charioteers in ancient Rome used separate harnesses with two reins controlling each horse. In a race such as the one depicted in the movie, where four horses draw the chariot (two-horse races were common, as well), a real charioteer from the era would be holding eight reins.

Factual error: Al-Tair and al-Deberan are the names of the Arab Sheikh's horses, and he states they're named after the stars. Those stars were given their names by Arabian astronomers, and calculated astronomy by the Arabs emerged during medieval Islam in the 7th and 8th century CE, 674 years after the plot of the movie takes place.

Continuity mistake: When Arrius makes the galley do a practice race and finally allows them to rest the oars are going up and down from the waves. However, when the camera is close on Judah the oars are perfectly still. (01:10:55)


Factual error: Quintus Arrius is fighting an enormous fleet of Macedonian pirates. However, Macedonia had been a Roman province since 148 BC and after the defeat of the Cilician pirates by Pompey in 67 BC the Mediterranean was free of pirates. The movie is set nearly 100 years later.

Factual error: When Messala is passing through Nazareth, he says they will be in Jerusalem by tomorrow night. Nazareth is approximately 90 miles from Jerusalem. It would take three days to cover that distance, not one.

Audio problem: When the rowers in the Roman galley were going normal speed, you could tell that the drum was sounding before the drummer hit it.

Continuity mistake: At the end of the chariot race, a heavily bloodsoaked Messala is taken to receive medical treatment. While something is done to his legs out of shot (amputation, presumably) an orderly in a clean white tunic leans his whole body weight on Messala to hold him down on the bed as he writhes in agony. When the orderly stands up, we see that his tunic is still spotlessly white.

Revealing mistake: The chariot race is about to begin, and Messala arrives late. As he's backing his team into position, look at the left side of the left-most horse's neck. You can see the reins rubbing the black dye off. (Solid black horses are *extremely* rare).

Factual error: Before the chariot race, Sheik Ilderim pins a Star of David on Ben Hur's belt. The Star of David did not become a Jewish symbol until the Middle Ages.

wizard_of_gore Premium member

Continuity mistake: Right before the chariot race, Sheik Ilderim is on Judah's left side, pointing out the spikes on Messala's wheels. There's a shot of the wheels and then back to Judah, where the Sheik is now on Judah's right side. Judah holds the Sheik's forearm as the fanfare starts. Then a long shot, showing the Sheik, now on Judah's left side again, and Judah removing his hand from the Sheik's forearm.

ChiChi Premium member
Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: The sheik actually moves around the chariot to the right side. No continuity error.

You can't assume that the sheik moves. It's not shown and the shots are so quick in succession the sheik didn't have time to move.

ChiChi Premium member

Revealing mistake: During the naval battle, the same footage of a sinking galley is used several times, apparently to represent the sinking of several galleys.

wizard_of_gore Premium member

Continuity mistake: When the baskets are being loaded to be lowered into the Valley of the Lepers, someone loads two heads of lettuce onto a basket. Just as the basket is being lowered, someone else throws in three more heads. When the basket hits the bottom, there are only three heads of lettuce.

wizard_of_gore Premium member

Continuity mistake: When the Sheik is taking down the bets, his man, who handed him the book, is standing behind him with his hands down. When the camera angle changes, his hands are folded. (00:07:45)


Continuity mistake: At the very end, the scaffold that was used to erect the crosses vanishes between shots.

Continuity mistake: Ben Hur's horses change position. When the chariots are preparing for the race and at the starting line, the horse with the pink nose is third from the left, but at the end of the race, the pink-nosed horse is fourth from the right.

Continuity mistake: At one time during the chariot race Judah and Messala are going side by side. Then Judah steers his horses against the inner wall and almost comes to a complete halt. However, an instant later he is abreast with Messala again. (00:26:00)


Revealing mistake: When Miriam, Esther and Tirzah find shelter from the storm in a cave, the storm is violent and the wind is howling, but the trees visible in the background are barely swaying.

wizard_of_gore Premium member

Factual error: In the movie, Pontius Pilate is appointed to be governor of Judea around AD 32 (Judah is enslaved in AD 28, spends 3 years as a slave and then at least one year with Arrius before he meets Pilate, who is still not appointed). In reality, Pilate was the governor of Judea from AD 26-36.


Continuity mistake: During the scene when Ben-Hur meets his servant, Simonides, he removes his turban, and his hair is flat and sweaty. The shot pans to his mother, and when it cuts back, his hair is dry and combed.

wizard_of_gore Premium member

Revealing mistake: When Judah and Messala hurl their spears into the wooden beam, the projectiles follow very straight paths all the way across the room to their targets, whereas due to gravity they'd really travel curved paths, practically parabolic, requiring a skilled thrower to aim above the target. What's revealed here is that the spears were rigged to slide on thin wires, to assure that they'd hit the target on cue.

Continuity mistake: In the parade of chariots before the race, the riders are shown circling the track once before making their way to the starting line. As they emerge from the stables, the horses and chariots leave very noticeable tracks on the ground so you can trace their progress around the track. The riders head down the right side of the track (from the perspective of the stables) then make the wide turn to head down the backstretch, and then make the wide turn back onto the right side of the track where they started. The film then cuts to a wide shot of the riders heading back down the right side of the track for the second time, but the track ahead of them and all the way down the backstretch is now clean of any tracks. It's clear this shot comes from when the riders first emerged from the stables. The riders then stop on the starting line on the backstretch, which means they were either transported to the other side of the track without making a third turn, or they did 1 lap around the track in the space of 1 and a half laps.


Continuity mistake: During the crucifixion, look at Jesus' hands, there are three clear shots of this. In the first shot you plainly see his blood from his hands on the cross. In the second shot, the blood is gone from the cross. In the third shot, it's back.

Continuity mistake: When Ben-Hur is about to be transferred from his cell to Tirus after the tile struck the governor, his hands are being tied by the centurions. When he strikes the incoming centurion, his hands are free.

Continuity mistake: When Messala goes to the roof terrace after the tile incident, he checks the loose tiles. He drops one on the floor, and there are broken pieces on it that were not there before. (00:49:35)


Continuity mistake: During his brief escape Judah threatens Messala who is standing behind his desk. The arrangement of things on the desk changes many times throughout the scene, most noticeably the three books on the right. (00:53:20)


Continuity mistake: After Judah knocks out the prison guards he grabs a spear and busts into Messala's room. Two other guards standing far down the hall start running after him. Seen from inside the room, the guards enter directly after Judah. (00:52:15)


Continuity mistake: After Tirzah causes the tiles to fall from the roof, there is a wide shot from above, showing Judah and Tirzah now standing at a different part of the wall than where the tiles fell. (00:46:25)


Continuity mistake: When Jesus Christ is bearing his cross in Jerusalem, in the first shot the sign text on the cross in Latin (and presumably also Hebrew?) is displayed flipped/mirrored/backwards. In the next shot with the sign it is perfectly legible.

Arnoud van den Eerenbeemt

Factual error: The circus maximus was built in such a way as to allow the entire track to be visible to the spectators. This is not the case in Ben Hur.

Continuity mistake: In the first scene of part 2 the Romans are relaxing in the bath. Then the arrival of Sheik Ilderim is announced, and when the camera switches to him the positions of many extras in the scene change, like one masseur in red (first kneeling, then squatting). (00:04:30)


Factual error: Emperor Tiberius of Rome was a reclusive and vicious tyrant by 26AD when "Ben Hur" is set. Furthermore, by that time, he had retired to Capri and was rarely in Rome. In the movie, he's the picture of Regal benevolence, basking in the love of the crowds and showering glory on Arrias in victory. In real-life that never would have happened. Tiberius' Governor Sejanus would have presided over Arrias' triumph, not Tiberius. (01:23:00 - 01:26:00)

Factual error: When Judah is being led to the galleys after Jesus give him some water you see hills in the background, and a highway is going through them. (01:05:10)

Join the mailing list

Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.