KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 ― The movie Ben-Hur released here on Thursday was edited to remove scenes of Jesus Christ that were pivotal to its plot, local viewers have claimed.
The movie, distributed here by United International Pictures (UIP) Malaysia, is based on the 19th century novel Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ, which tells the fictional story of an enslaved Jewish prince that runs parallel with that of Jesus.
The two encounter one another often in the novel, with Jesus playing a key influence in the life of the protagonist, Judah Ben-Hur.
A Facebook user by the name of Jerry Terry Derulo had on Wednesday thanked the film distributor for inviting him to movie’s premiere on Tuesday, but pointed out on that the local version that key plot points from the classic story were missing.
“Malaysia version is the edited version where story involving Jesus was completely cut off! the actual length of the movie according to IMDB is 125 mins; Malaysia edited is only 114 minutes,” he wrote.
Checks online showed conflicting information on the runtime, however, ranging from 125 minutes to 150 minutes.
UIP appeared to acknowledge this in its response, but did not state the explicit reason for the omissions.
“Hi Jerry Terry Derulo, thank you for attending the movie premiere last night. UIP Malaysia has to oblige local legal requirements and guidelines for the movie to be released. Nonetheless, we hope the movie was enjoyable and that you had fun. Thank you once again,” the film distributor wrote in response on Wednesday in the same comments thread on its official Facebook page.
More Facebook users have since been spotted making similar complaints, with one Christine Ooi Wai Ching saying that scenes on the crucifixion of Jesus were removed.
Ben-Hur is a contemporary Hollywood remake of the award-winning 1959 epic, and stars Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro, Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer and Morgan Freeman.
Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ has been dubbed one of the most influential Christian stories of its period, and was blessed by Pope Leo XIII to become the first ever fictional story to receive the honour.