Saturday, February 28th, 2009

“Bigger Than Ben Hur”

I found a discussion on the radio earlier this week to be rather interesting as it clearly demonstrated those on the radio not realising the origin of a saying that one used.

There had been some discussion of the Oscars and the various winners with the expected mention of Heath Ledger. They then had a change of subject with a guest from a local tv show. Apparently the show has been revamped lately to make it even bigger and better than before and someone on the radio made the comment that it is now :bigger than Ben Hur”.

Sorry to disappoint but that reference relates specifically to the Oscars (which is why I thought the juxtaposition of the discussions to be peculiar).

The reference to Ben Hur is because back in the 1950s the movie Ben Hur was nominated for and won 11 Oscars. To be bigger than Ben Hur something therefore needs to receive more than 11 Oscars. Since only movies qualify for consideration at the Oscars it is impossible for a mere tv show to ever be bigger than Ben Hur because it will never win one Oscar let alone 12.

There are only two movies that can by stretching things be truly considered to be bigger than Ben Hur. The first of these is the movie “Titanic” which was nominated for 12 Oscars and won 11 of them. Since it was nominated for more Oscars than Ben Hur and won as many as Ben Hur did it might qualify as being bigger than Ben Hur. The other movie that might qualify is “Lord of the Rings”. Taking all three parts as being but sections of a single movie it has actually won 12 Oscars. However one of these was for the first part “Fellowship of the Ring” while the other eleven were for the third part “Return of the King” so considering each part as a separate movie (since they were released in and nominated in different years) then “Retiurn of the King” has only equalled Ben Hur and not exceeded it.

No single movie has been nominated and won more than eleven Oscars in the same year and those three movies are the only ones to achieve eleven. Since Ben Hur did it first and held the record alone for forty years we can truly say that there is still nothing that is actually “bigger than Ben Hur”.

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