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One Night with the King Film Analysis

Hadassah, a young Jewish lady born into slavery, is taken into the harem of the Persian king Xerxes. At the same time, the king’s closest advisor comes up with a scheme to have all Jews killed. Hadassah, now known as Queen Esther, must summon the willpower to rescue her people. Based on the biblical account of Esther, the film “One Night With the King” was released in 2006. The film’s spectacular and magnificent settings and images take the audience back to the era of Esther, Mordecai, and King Xerxes. Gener8xion has, for the first time, recruited a fantastic ensemble to complement the stunning and lifelike visuals. Each actor, from the dependable John Rhys-Davies to the newcomer Tiffany Dupont with her sweet innocence, to Luke Goss with his charm, to Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister with his tender heart, to James Callis and Omar Sharif with their intensity, adds layers to their characters that are essential to the story at hand. While this seems like a recipe for a particular hit at the box office, the picture is let down by a few key factors.

Queen Esther, a Jewish heroine, marries the mighty King Xerxes of Persia to rescue her people from extinction. The film’s misleading title suggests it is about a one-night fling with Elvis Presley. Hadassah, an orphan, changes her name to Esther so that she will not be recognized as Jewish when she and other attractive young ladies are rounded up and sent to the palace to compete to replace Xerxes’ disobedient first wife, who has been exiled. However, Xerxes is gorgeous, and the leading eunuch, Hagai, develops feelings for her, and soon the farm girl has risen to the position of the first lady. The storyline is based on the book The Hadassah Covenant by Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olsen, yet the picture looks and feels like a magnificent Biblical epic. Seeing a religious film in broad distribution that does not deal with Jesus Christ, the New Testament, Christian preaching, or the end of the world is refreshing.

One of the movie’s most obvious flaws is its editing. The first half of the film seems haphazardly thrown together like one sees continuous trailer for the rest of the film. It may not seem like much of a challenge to condense the book of Esther into a two-hour film, but to convert it into a feature picture, additional dialogue and incidents not recorded in the Bible must be added for dramatic reasons. The story’s premise needs to be more cohesive and clearer for newcomers. Once Esther is crowned queen, the film’s pacing improves, and its strengths become more apparent. Furthermore, only then can the performances’ strengths become apparent. However, the somewhat exaggerated and melodramatic soundtrack was composed by J.A.C. Redford, whose resume consists of small-scale Disney sequels and television work, both of which are problematic. Redford’s additions work well at times but are distracting for the most part. Additionally, there are times when the story’s epic tone is a little much for its audience.

Since this is a film adaptation, specific changes had to be made to make the tale work for the screen. I will not say anything that would give anything away from the film’s narrative. However, those familiar with the biblical account may be startled by the liberties used by the filmmakers. The movie’s adaptation of Esther is faithful enough to the novel that it likely encourages viewers to read the book after seeing the adaptation. However, the movie serves as an excellent model for relying on God. The Christian undertones are unavoidable, given that the narrative is taken directly from the Old Testament, but they are handled well, never coming off as forced or manipulative.

References

G. Cristiani, Ed. ((2006). One Night with the King. [Review of One Night with the King]. 8x Entertainment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4saPofrlbA

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