Adapted from Lew Wallace's 1880 novel, Ben-Hur was a historical epic film. Released in 1959, Ben-Hur had the largest budget of any film at the time ($15 million). With such a large budget, you would think that everything in the film would be flawless. Unfortunately this is not the case, especially when it comes to the make-up. Charles E. Parker was hired to do the makeup for this film, and while he may have excelled in some parts of the film, there are quite a few scenes where he could have seriously improved
Fake Blood or stage blood is used as a substitute for actual blood in a theatrical performance. This is a rather common 'special effect' that is used in so many different types of films throughout time. In this particular film, the fake blood is really...well, FAKE. It almost looks like Parker grabbed some red acrylic paint and just poured it onto the actors. In this particular photo, Judah has a cut really close to his mouth, and its very obvious that its fake. The only reason I can excuse the horrible fake blood is because this film was made in 1959...all I can say is that I am very happy the film industry has improved in this area.
The term 'racebending' refers to "situations where a media content creator has changed the race or ethnicity of a character." In the film Ben-Hur, Hugh Griffith was cast for the role as Sheik Ilderim. While he did win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, his make-up was AWFUL. Originally from Europe, Hugh Griffith was a Welsh actor; however this did not matter to the director. They just had the make-up artist attempt to change the color of his face to make him appear as if he was an Arab, unfortunatley he didn't do a very good job. In this particular picture, the make-up on his forehead had worn off-- there are scenes in the film where you can even see the dark brown makeup on his white outfit.
Haya Harareet was cast for the role of Esther, Judah's love interest. While her makeup was flawless in most scenes, there were a couple of instances where her make-up could have been improved. In some scenes, with certain lighting, you can see the distinct characteristics of contouring on her face. While we have gotten better at contouring now, back then they weren't the best at doing so. In one particular scene, you can even see an almost greenish tint on her cheeks, revealing the attempt at contouring.
Judah Ben-Hur Edit
Charlton Heston was cast for the lead role in the 1959 hit film Ben-Hur. While a majority of the other actors in this film had terrible makeup, it seems that the head makeup artist, Parker, at least did Judah's makeup well. In a majority of scenes featuring Heston, his makeup is done rather well. The scenes where Heston is supposed to look filthy and weak, Parker managed to use his makeup talents to make sure that he truly did look like he had been through the galleys.