DVD Release Date:  January 23, 2007
Theatrical Release Date:  October 13, 2006
Rating:  PG (for violence, some sensuality and thematic elements)
Genre:  Drama/History/Action
Run Time:  115 min.
Director:  Michael O. Sajbel
Actors:  Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, John Rhys-Davies, Luke Goss, John Noble, Tommy Lister, James Callis, Jonah Lotan, Tiffany Dupont.

Since 1913, Hollywood has produced at least nine movies about the biblical Esther, but perhaps the most intriguing – and doubtless the most expensive – is the Esther movie hitting theaters this weekend. Produced by “Omega Code’s” Matt and Laurie Crouch of Gener8Xion Entertainment, Inc., “One Night with the King” does a laudable job telling the timeless, inspiring story of a young girl’s bravery amidst treachery, scandal, and genocide.

Based on the Tommy Tenney’s novel, "Hadassah: One Night with the King," the movie portrays beautiful Esther (Tiffany Dupont), a Jewish orphan girl who is rounded up, along with others, to basically audition – on her “night with the king” for the newly vacated role of Xerxes’ queen. Little does she know, however, that Haman the Agagite (James Callis), the jealous and powerful high official of King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) of Persia (485-464 B.C.), has determined to destroy, in a single day, all the Jews living in the Persian Empire.

Haman is moved to genocide out of hatred for the Jews, especially Esther’s uncle Mordecai (John Rhys-Davies), whose single-minded devotion to God prevents him from rendering homage to man. The day of the proposed massacre is determined by lot and signed into law.  Meanwhile, the bright and witty Esther is chosen queen by King Xerxes in place of Vashti.  She quickly finds that her new role will not simply be to live as a pampered queen with a handsome king (Luke Goss), but rather could be to save her people from total annihilation. She will have to draw upon the Scripture hidden in her heart – as well as bravery and cleverness – if she is to avert the pogrom planned against her people and have the royal decree of extermination reversed against Haman and the enemies of the Jews.

“One Night with the King” was shot entirely on location in Rajasthan – India ’s own “Land of the Kings,” in a palace where a typical room measures 250’ x 150’, with 65’ ceilings.  To put it in perspective, the king’s bedroom is larger than the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.  The cinematography and special effects are stunning and include massive, breathtaking, multi-story waterfalls pouring down from openings on either side of a colossal drawbridge.

There’s nothing skimpy about the acting, either. Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, and John Rhys-Davies add the class and credibility of an epic, and newcomer Tiffany Dupont is charming and refreshing as the sharp-minded Esther.  Chosen for the role out of 2,500 women who auditioned worldwide, Tiffany was spotted by producers at Calvary Chapel Church in Los Angeles.  Jack Redford composed the moving music score, which includes moving segments from the Russian Philharmonic.

"One Night With the King" is worth seeing just for the palace, effects, music score, and acting, but the true takeaway is the story.  The film opens with a flashback to the time when King Saul refused to obey God and utterly destroy every man, woman, child, and beast of the Amalekite army.  Saul spared the king and his pregnant queen, who managed to escape.  Her offspring became the Agagites (including Haman), a fierce, Jew-hating tribe bent on avenging themselves against the Jews.  According to author and teacher Kay Arthur (Precept Ministries International), the Amalekites always symbolize the flesh, and when the flesh is not utterly destroyed, the devastating ramifications will be far-reaching. 

The most important lesson in "King," however, is the sense of destiny and purpose God has for those who are willing to undergo the scourge of tribulation and the fire of delayed answers.  Esther was an orphan who was obedient and faithful to her uncle and her God, and because she drew upon all that had been planted in her soul since childhood on the day of reckoning, she changed the destiny of a nation.

The only element of the story that competes with the inspirational lessons is the sub-plot of the eunuchs.  It's made clear that Jewish boys were also captured and forcefully castrated to be placed in the king’s service, and such gruesomeness happens to Esther’s good friend, Jesse (Jonah Lotan).  Thankfully, nothing is shown onscreen, but the theme is disturbing enough to possibly overshadow the story’s uplifting elements.

Another caution is that the plot can be complicated at times, and families would do well to go over the Bible story – even with their teenage children – before seeing the movie. Despite these drawbacks, however, the timeless story and breathtaking scenes of the palace do make up for the movie’s imperfections.  “One Night with the King” should have high appeal to adults and older children of many cultures and faiths.

AUDIENCE:  Adults, teens and mature children

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None
  • Language:  None
  • Sex:  None, except the sub-plot of the eunuchs.  Nothing is shown, but the message is clear that Jewish boys were captured and forcefully castrated to be placed in the king’s service.  The theme could be disturbing to children and younger teens.
  • Violence:  Genocide plans formulated, including the forceful rounding up of Jews; warfare depicted with Amalekites; Haman knocks out Mordecai, etc.