LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Ben-Hur", the 1959 movie epic that won 11 Oscars, has received a Hollywood revamp -- but its makers say the famed chariot race still relies on humans and horses, not special effects.
"Boardwalk Empire" actor Jack Huston takes on the role for which the late Charlton Heston was named Best Actor, playing the young Jewish noble Judah Ben-Hur, who is sent into slavery by Roman occupiers but returns to take his revenge.
"If you think about the climate of the world today -- and this movie is set 2,000 years ago -- you realize the world hasn't changed that much," Huston said at the film's Tuesday premiere.
"Being a beautiful action movie with all of the thrills and excitement, it's still a very serious movie for our time."
Producer Mark Burnett said that for the chariot-racing sequence -- nine minutes long in the original -- special effects had been used only for crash scenes.
"The actual horses were ridden and driven by the actors. It was 32 horses, eight chariots round and around that arena at full speed, sometimes on one wheel," he said.
"When the horses have crashes, that's all special effects -- but the rest of the racing is all the real horses with the actors."
"Ben-Hur" hits cinemas worldwide from Wednesday.
(Reporting By Reuters Television; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Kevin Liffey)