Thursday, 18 August 2016

Thoughts on John Campea's Deleted Ben-Hur Review

This article contains spoilers for both the 1959 and 2016 Ben-Hur movies.

Yesterday, film critic and reporter John Campea uploaded his review of this week's Ben-Hur remake to his self-titled YouTube channel. Intrigued to see how the film was faring with critics, I was one of the many who clicked on the review and was left subsequently puzzled.

Campea had some positive remarks for the Ben-Hur remake, but ultimately gave the film a negative review largely due to how it ended. The critic took issue with how the sister and mother of main protagonist Judah Ben-Hur -- Miriam and Tirzah -- were miraculously cured of their leprosy after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, particularly as he claimed that this did not happen in the 1959 Ben-Hur movie (the most famous of this story's many adaptations).

This was immediately confusing to me as having watched the Charlton Heston Ben-Hur movie only last year, I remember quite clearly that this did indeed happen in that adaptation of the story, while Jesus cured the two women in a similar fashion in Lew Wallace's original novel from 1880. I wasn't the only one to recall this detail of the iconic story, and soon the comments section of the review was filling up with people pointing out Campea's error.

What was most confusing to me about this situation was that throughout his review Campea spoke as someone who had seen the 1959 cinematic landmark, at one point even imploring his viewers to seek it out themselves if they haven't already. Yet if he had actually seen the three and a half hour epic, wouldn't he have remembered one of the most pivotal scenes in its closing act?

The only other option is that Campea saw the film so long ago that he had forgotten how it ended, but I don't believe that excuses this behaviour. 

If he was pretending he had seen the original film in order to boost the credibility of his opinion on the matter, then that is very deceitful of him. If he hadn't seen the film in so long that he'd forgotten how it ended, he should have refreshed his memory either by watching it again or by simply reading through the Wikipedia plot synopsis, before using a non-existent change as a major criticism of the remake. The fact he chose not to I feel was inexcusably lazy for one of YouTube's most prominent film critics.

Whatever the reality of the situation, the review has since been taken down which seems to suggest Campea is aware of the error he made. 

This video frustrated me personally as it was such a large mistake that was so easily avoidable, and it's a kind of sloppiness that would only be deemed excusable on YouTube. As much as I enjoy the thriving film criticism community on the video-sharing site, it is in situations like these where you see quite vividly where it falters in comparison to more traditional film reviews from outlets such as the Guardian or the BBC. Such major mistakes from paid film critics would not be accepted on those sites, which makes me wonder why we're more willing to accept them from paid film critics on YouTube?

This is not intended as an attack on John Campea, I'm sure he works very hard to produce as much content as he can. I just feel that mistakes like these shouldn't be brushed off, as all they do is make YouTube seem less credible than other film criticism sites, and that could cause long-term problems.


Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.