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COLCHESTER will turn back time by 2,000 years to host chariot racing...in the form of the classic movie, Ben Hur.

The Colchester Archeological Trust and the Odeon Cinema in Head Street have joined forces to show the 1959 multi-award winning film.

The film features chariot racing, which ties in with the trust’s attempts to preserve the Roman chariot starting gates close to Abbey Field.

Guiseppe Musarra, marketing manager at the Odeon, is trying to track down a print of the classic and is hoping to attract 200 people to the screening at the end of May or early June.

He said: “It’s a way of redefining cinema to be more involved in the community.

“Whatever the trust makes from tickets, it can keep.”

The Save Our Circus campaign, backed by the Gazette, raised £200,000 – the first step to buy the Victorian former sergeants’ mess, where the circus starting gates are buried.

The trust hopes to get the rest of the money, about £700,000, from a mortgage, private developers to use part of the building for flats, and lottery funding.

Phillip Crummy, of the trust, said: “Hopefully, the film will stir more interest in the Roman Circus.

“We would do a presentation beforehand to explain about the making of the film and to discuss what actual racing chariots would have looked like.

“If people think the racing in the film looks exciting, the actual chariot racing was far more exciting, and we had it right here in Colchester.”

Charlton Heston starred as the title character, and the film is famous for its high-octane chariot racing scene.

It won 11 Academy Awards, a feat only equalled by Titanic and the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.