One Night with the King – A Review
Written by George Mearns
One Night With The King quietly came out a couple of weeks ago. It is a love story based on a novel called “Hadassah” about Esther and Xerxes. Esther is played by a newcomer Tiffany Dupont and actors John Rhys-Davis who played Mordecai (also the Egyptian in the Indiana Jones movies and Gimli in Lord of the Rings), John Noble (also of Lord of the Rings), and Omar Sharif. Peter O’toole made a brief appearance as Samuel.
When King Saul did not kill all the Amalekites, what happened to them? A number of scholars think that Haman, the bad guy of Esther, was an Amalekite.
This is a film produced by a Christian company, filmed in India and I thought that the cultural aspects were captured well, though the overview of Suza was a bit overdone. In one scene, we see rows of scribes writing down Xerxes words. When one remembers that Persia had 127 Provinces, that made sense.
Much of the story centered around the upcoming invasion of Greece. Unfortunately, I think this also distracted from the story. Some think that Xerxes had already invaded Greece and lost by the time Esther comes on the scene. Pushing this time frame of preparation into the film forced some errors into it.
One centered around the meal(s) Esther served to Haman and the King. The book of Esther states there was two, but the film shows one. We also see Haman as not pleading for his life but threatening Esther with death before being arrested.
Overall, it was an enjoyable movie, but not a Biblical epic. When it comes out on video, it would be worth having despite some of its shortcomings. Some Christian themes were manufactured in to the film. The Jews prayed to God as “Father,” which I doubt they did in those days. Haman was portrayed as a evil man in the line of the Nazis, even wearing a symbol of that. And the Star of David played a role in a piece of jewelry as well. Having said that, it did capture some of the Biblical ideas found in Esther.
When the credits rolled by, I did not notice any well know theologians, archaeologists or historians mentioned. As some have suggested, with a better script, it could have been a much better film. Had the screen writer(s) started with Esther and then worked with that material and historical background, it could have been a more successful and important film.
The screen writer for The Rookie and Radio and has done the screen writing for the upcoming film, The Nativity said that when one does a story like The Rookie, most people do not know them so one can embellish for dramatic effect. But when one portrays such a well known story as The Nativity (or in this case Esther), a screen writer really should be careful.
A teacher could use this film as a means of showing good and bad interpretations of events about which we have little information. I used another made for TV movie, In The Beginning in a teen class, showing the good and positive ideas of interpretation as well as where they went off. Two other movies that are worthy are Jesus of Nazareth and The Gospel of John.
We need good Biblical movies and some have been made. It is always a challenge because so many know scripture and are therefore qualified to be critics.