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Ben Hur Live as post-cinematic adaptation

Ben Hur Live as post-cinematic adaptation

Whitby, Richard ORCID: 0000-0002-2729-8682 (2022) Ben Hur Live as post-cinematic adaptation. Journal of Adaptation in Film & Performance, 15 (1/2). pp. 61-75. ISSN 1753-6421 (doi:

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Ben Hur Live was a live, arena-based version of the story from Lew Wallace’s novel Ben-Hur (1880), best known via the 1959 film version directed by William Wyler, that premiered at London’s O2 Arena in 2009. Meant as the start of a world tour, the show was a financial flop and its run was cut short. I argue that this show was in fact an early example of a small genre of oversized productions – Arena Spectaculars – that bring together live versions of screen material in a specifically post-cinematic way. Since Ben Hur Live’s financial failure there have been financially successful shows such as Batman Live and Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular; their very titles showing their contingent and intertextual nature. Although seemingly niche, aberrant or even ridiculous, the arena spectacular can actually illuminate many things about the contemporary consumption of texts in a post-cinematic, networked and franchised economy of images.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: adaptation; authenticity; cinema; early cinema; liveness; post-cinema; remediation; spectacle
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > Sound-Image Research Group
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2023 01:38

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