Ben-Hur

RORY: Please describe how your mother runs her household.
LORELAI: Okay. Well, do you remember the rowing scene in Ben-Hur?

Ben-Hur, previously discussed.

In the film, Ben-Hur is unfairly condemned to be a galley slave for three years, and in the famous galley scene, the slaves are shown working in time to the beat of a drum, and sometimes being whipped to make them work harder. Meanwhile the consul in charge simply sits back and watches them, apparently for sadistic pleasure, since there is no need for him to even be down there in the galley, which is dark and hot.

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