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In cinemas September 7


Youth Activity Pack

Find special videos and other resources at
Introduction 3

Before the Film 4

What’s the Story? 4

Background 5

Activities and Questions Part 1: Becoming Yourself 6

Activities and Questions Part 2: Becoming the Change 10

Event poster 14

Credits 15


These free resources provided by Damaris Media are designed to help young people engage with the
issues raised by Ben-Hur (in UK cinemas from the 7th September 2016) through discussion, reflection and

In this leader’s guide you’ll find:

Background information
Fun activities and discussion questions exploring the themes of the film.

There are also special video features, which are available at

This pack is designed to appeal to young people aged 11 and upwards. Some
questions and activities may be more suitable for older groups - watch out for the
‘16+/extension’ symbol.

Please feel free to select whichever activities you feel are most appropriate for the group you are


Before the film
Watch the trailer for Ben-Hur (available at with your group to get people
excited about the forthcoming cinema trip.

1. What did you think of the trailer?

2. What are you most looking forward to about the cinema trip?

You could share the trailer on social media to encourage others to join your trip - see

What's the Story?

Ben-Hur is a major Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures film releasing in cinemas
everywhere on 7th September 2016. It tells the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely
accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army. Stripped
of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into

After years at sea, working as a slave, a breathtaking turn of events sends Judah on an epic journey back
to his homeland to seek revenge but instead he finds redemption. Based on Lew Wallace’s timeless
novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, the film also stars Morgan Freeman and Rodrigo Santoro.


‘Charlton Heston’s Ben-Hur is one of my all-time favorites,’ says Executive Producer Mark Burnett.
‘As much as that film means to me and so many others, my own teenagers had never heard of it. I
realised there was a massive audience ready for a fresh approach to this classic story.’

Director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Night Watch) was excited to be a part of the project. ‘The 1959
Ben-Hur is not just a film, it’s a phenomenon that greatly affected the culture of the 20th century,’ he
explains. ‘Even though the setting and the circumstances are thousands of years ago, the characters’
emotions and actions are relatable and have a modern, universal resonance.’

Screenwriter John Ridley reflects that Judah Ben-Hur is a ‘classic character’ who existed 80 years prior to
the 1959 film, having originated in Lew Wallace’s book Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. ‘He’s a wronged
man seeking revenge and redemption,’ Ridley says. ‘Compelling characters like Ben-Hur and
Messala are the reason we can return to these stories again and again.’ His fellow screenwriter Keith
R. Clarke was inspired by the story’s powerful message. ‘One of the last sentences Christ spoke was
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they’ve done.” So much tragedy in the world can be
averted by forgiving our enemies.’

Ben-Hur stars Jack Huston as Judah Ben-Hur, ‘a character combining aristocratic irony and ability to
truly care for other people’, according to Bekmambetov, with Toby Kebbell as Judah’s adopted brother


Part 1: Becoming Yourself
In Ben-Hur, we follow Judah’s journey from prince to slave to rebel. The young man we meet at the
beginning of the story has lots of advantages in life - wealth, friends, family - but he faces a huge
challenge when all of this is taken away from him.

In this part of the guide, the group will think about their own unique identities and how these might
change and develop in the future.

Icebreaker: Who am I?
You’ll need: Sticky labels, pens.
This game will get everybody talking and set the scene for a discussion about identity.

Give everybody a sticky label, and ask them to write down the name of a well-known celebrity,
historical figure or fictional character. This label will now be stuck onto the forehead of someone else in
the group who doesn’t know what it says.

Everybody now mingles, trying to find out who they are by asking yes/no questions to other members
of the group: for example, ‘Am I a man?’, ‘Am I fictional?’, ‘Am I an actor?’. The game finishes when
everyone has guessed correctly.

Talk about these questions together

You might want to play the film trailer, available at, to refresh the group’s

What did you like most about the film? Which scene was your favourite, and which character
did you relate to the most?

Tweet review challenge

Can you fit your review of the film into 140 characters or less?

Share your tweet review with the hashtag #BenHur.

If your group is part of a larger organisation, tag them in and encourage them
to retweet. You can find us on Twitter at @DamarisMedia to chat more about
your reaction to the film.

How did you feel about Judah when we first met him at the beginning of the film? What seems
to be important to him? What might he be wanting or expecting from his own future?


Which influences in your life do you think have shaped your beliefs, interests and priorities
today? (Some examples could include family, friends, teachers, role models, the media.) What
do you think might help shape who you become in the future?
16 Judah’s life goes in an unexpected direction, and this experience changes him. Which parts of
your identity do you think will always stay the same, and which things might change or get left
behind as you grow older?

Activity: What I’m made of

You’ll need: Paper, pens, glue, scissors, a selection of different magazines and pictures which can be
cut up.
This collage activity will encourage the group to think about different aspects of their identity.

Ask everyone to draw a large silhouette outline of themselves on a piece of paper. (A simple
‘gingerbread man’ style figure is fine.) They can then look through the selection of magazines and cut
out any pictures which they feel represent them as a person: perhaps a hobby they enjoy, a celebrity
or a kind of animal they love, a place where they’ve been, something they think is interesting or
beautiful or a cause that they care about. They can then create a collage inside the outline using these

If they want to, they could include drawings of their own or printouts of their own photos that they
have prepared beforehand. (Make sure they have permission to cut these up!)

Afterwards, encourage a few people to share their collage and explain why they chose these pictures.
What does their collage say about them and what they’re made of?


16 Activity: Turning points
You’ll need: Paper and pens, coloured pencils/pens if the group would like to draw.
This reflection and discussion activity encourages the group to look back on the influences which
have formed their identities.

Judah’s life takes a dramatic turn when he is betrayed and exiled, and he becomes a very different
person. Most of us won’t experience anything this extreme, but we still have turning points in our
lives that have made us who we are.

Ask the group to draw a long line or a winding path along a landscape sheet of paper. This represents
the course of their life until now. Along the path, ask them to draw or write in a series of signposts
showing where something significant happened to change the course of their life.

These significant events could include things like moving to a new place, meeting a friend or an
influential role model, discovering a book or film which changed their perspective, or finding a new

Afterwards, encourage a few people to share their picture and explain some of the turning points
they’ve encountered along their life journey.

Talk about these questions together

What sort of person do you think Judah might have become if his life hadn’t changed
unexpectedly? Can you think of some examples of difficult life events which might actually turn
out for the best?
Do you know what direction you want your life to take in the future? If not, what might help
you to discover your sense of direction?

16 What does the word ‘destiny’ mean to you? What reason does Judah give for not believing in
destiny? Do you think that having a destiny means not being able to choose your future and
why or why not?


16 Activity: What matters to me
You’ll need: Paper and pens.
This reflection and discussion activity encourages the young people to think about their life priorities.

Read out these ten ‘I want’ statements, and get the group to write them down. (Alternatively you
could print copies of the statements and hand them out.) Then give the group five minutes to rank the
statements from ‘1’ to ‘10’, with ‘1’ being the most important in their future life and ‘10’ being the
least important.

I want…
to have a partner and children of my own
to travel and have adventures
to have security and not worry about money
to create or discover something new and exciting
to live out my spiritual or political beliefs
to push myself to achieve difficult challenges
to take care of others
to follow in the footsteps of my parents or carers
to use my talents to become successful or well-known
to have fun and not be tied down by responsibilities

After they have done this, ask a few volunteers to share what was most or least important to them and


Part 2: Becoming the Change
When Judah’s life changes, it doesn’t just impact the way he sees himself - it gives him a different
perspective on Chariot
the worldRace
around him.
You’ll need: A lot of space, outdoors or indoors; several old blankets or sheets; markers for the race
In some
this part willing
of the volunteers.
guide, the group will think about how their personal beliefs, gifts, interests and priorities
might change the world forhelp
This energetic game will blow off some steam and get the group in the mood for more activities
the better.
themed around the film. Please ensure that participants remain safe during this activity.

Use markers - stones or items of clothing will do - to lay out a race course. This needs to be wide
enough for the teams to get around without damaging anything - or each other! Include start and
finish lines.

Divide the volunteers into teams of three - unless you have a lot of space, two or three teams is
probably enough. Give each team a blanket or sheet: this is the ‘chariot’. Two people will be at the
front pulling: they are the ‘horses’. The ‘chariot rider’ sits on the blanket and holds on tightly as the
‘horses’ pull them around the course!

If you like, the race could consist of three laps of a circular course, with the ‘horses’ and ‘rider’ rotating
after each lap.

Talk about these questions together.

When we first meet him, do you think Judah is making any compromises to avoid making life
too complicated? Would you call him selfish and why or why not?
In your view, are there any big or small injustices which people in our society avoid thinking
about from day to day? What compromises do you think we all make to have an easier life?
How do Judah’s experiences during the film prompt him to start thinking about the big picture?
What are some of the personal turning points for him? What sort of person has he become by
the end of the story?

16 Do you remember a moment in your life when you became aware of an injustice in the world or
of somebody else’s struggles? How did your perspective change? How did this make you feel?


Activity: A new perspective
You’ll need: Several handheld mirrors; pieces of furniture or other objects such as cardboard boxes.
This obstacle course activity is a fun way to think about what it means to see life from a different
perspective. Please ensure that participants remain safe during this activity.

Using furniture, boxes or whatever other objects you have available, create a simple obstacle course
across the room. This could include, for example, things to climb over, things to duck under and things
to step around.

Ask for volunteers to navigate the course - with a twist. They must walk backwards and must use
a handheld mirror to see where they are going! Depending on the age or confidence of the group,
you could make the game slightly easier: each participant could be paired with a helper who can see
where they are going, or the rest of the group could shout instructions from the sidelines.

16 Activity: Something I care about

You’ll need: Some volunteers from the group who are willing to speak; a screen to show pictures.
In this presentation activity, the group will be encouraged to reflect on what they care about and

Before the session, ask a few volunteers to prepare a short presentation on a cause they care about.
This could be a charity they support, a local or global injustice they feel passionate about or something
which impacts them personally. If you have a projector, laptop or tablet available, they could include

As the group leader, you might want to kick things off by preparing a simple presentation of your own
and speaking first.

Each presentation could address the following questions:

When did you first find out about this cause?

How are you involved? (Through campaigning, donating, volunteering etc.)
What kind of change would you like to see happen?
How could everybody else make a difference if they wanted to?


Talk about these questions together

Can you think of any examples of people whose beliefs and values changed the world for the
better? What inspired them to make a difference?
What do you think are some of your valuable talents, passions or experiences - and how could
you use these to benefit others? How might your unique gifts enable you to ‘be the solution’ to
one of the world’s problems?

16 What do you think it means to live with integrity? How do you try to express your own
personal beliefs and values through the way that you live?

Activity: I’ve got the solution

You’ll need: A photocopy or printout of the cards on page 13; scissors.
This matching game offers a fun way to reflect on the idea that each of us might have the answer to
one of the world’s problems.

Cut out the cards on page 13. If you have fewer than 22 people in the group, you could choose which
pairs of cards to use, or play two rounds. If you have more than 22 people in your group, you could
do multiple copies of some pairs. (Check the answers below to see what the correct pairs are.)

Give ‘problem’ cards (A-K) to one half of the group and ‘solution’ cards (1-11) to the other half. The
group must now mingle and try to pair up each problem with its correct solution. When everybody
has paired off, check the answers: how many did the group get right?

Answers: A, 7 - The salt can absorb the liquid before it soaks in; B, 11 - Potassium nitrate, a crucial
ingredient in gunpowder, is found in urine; C, 5 - The so-called ‘salmon cannon’ has been trialled in
Washington; D, 6 - The ferrets wore special jackets fitted with a chip which analysed network breaks;
E, 2 - The vinegar allegedly has an alkalizing effect on stomach acids in some cases; F, 1 - The puppets,
which look like the heads of adult condors, feed the chicks; G, 9 - The oil in the walnut darkens
damaged areas; H, 10 - Maremma dogs protect Little Penguin burrows on Middle Island; I, 4 - One
remedy recommends rubbing the slime of a live snail into the burn; J, 3 - Coke’s acidic properties
make it a useful cleaning fluid; K, 8 - Enzymes in the banana peel allegedly help dislodge the splinter
and heal the skin.


A To get a red wine stain out of the carpet, Puppets
you can use ...

B In the 19 century, gunpowder was
made using … vinegar

C In America, special … help fish migrate Coca-cola
to their breeding ground.

D An internet company has recently used Snails
… to help lay underground cables.

E One traditional indigestion cure Cannons
recommends swallowing some …

F Condor chicks hatched in captivity have Ferrets
been successfully raised by …

G You can fix marks on wooden Salt
furniture using …

H On an Australian island, … protect a Banana
rare penguin species from predators. peels

I In medieval times people believed … Walnuts
could offer a remedy for burns.

J You can use … to clean your toilet. Dogs

K Some people say that you can use … to
help get rid of splinters.


In cinemas September 7


Join us for a cinema trip,

followed by conversation and fun
Activity Pack Credits
Author: Sophie Lister
Producer: Judy May
Publishing Manager: Steve Alexander
Copy Editor: Jennifer McLean
Website: Steve Cross
Designer: Iain Gutteridge

© 2016 Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For community activities and promotional use only.
Sale, duplication, republication or other transfer of this material or excerpts thereof is strictly prohibited.

Ben-Hur Credits