TURLOCK, California, U.S.A. — A brown-haired wig does little for John Noble’s complexion. But aside from a few fatal wardrobe miscalculations and somewhat messy computer graphics, Michael O. Sajbel’s newest movie, One Night with the King, is satisfactorily up to par.
Not that “par” is anything significant when it comes to the story of Esther, who rose from Xerxes’ harem to become the Queen of Persia. Having had the opportunity to read several semi-fictitious books centered on the Biblical account of the young Jewish orphan (found in the Book of Esther) and laced with sexuality and conjured intrigue, I expected little of the movie.
As a Christian, I was prepared to be at best appalled by a wholly inappropriate misinterpretation.
So I was a bit surprised when I discovered that the suggestively-entitled movie was rated PG. I shouldn’t have been. Instead of racy harem scenes, my eyes feasted on every young girl’s fantasy, a true Arabian Nights manifested in gracefully billowing curtains, elaborate dresses, and exotic, picturesque moments.
Yet the movie stops short of a sparkly Disney princess tale, combining palace mystery with the developing relationship between Esther, formerly known as Hadassah (played by Tiffany Dupont), and King Xerxes (Luke Goss).
In keeping with the supposed connection between the Nazis and Haman the Agagite, the movie alludes several times to the ancient roots of anti-Semitism (depicted in a strongly negative light). Though the segments depicting the palace intrigue as described in the Book of Esther may be a bit intense for a PG-rated movie, they work to lessen what might be seen as the overly delicate moments in the rest of the film.
Perhaps the only other complaint I have with the movie, aside from Noble’s unsightly toupee (Noble plays a scheming politician), is that Peter O’Toole makes but a short appearance despite his prominent position on advertisements for the movie.
The movie also fails to cast O’Toole and Omar Sharif together, leaving audiences wondering how Sajbel has never heard of the watershed Lawrence of Arabia.
Still, the storyline, in general, keeps with the true Biblical account of the story of Esther in combination with fantastic, vivid images – a pleasant surprise for a Christian audience and families bored with the requisite Saturday afternoon VeggieTales.
Perhaps even those who are not familiar with the written account will find One Night with the King a feast for hungry eyes.
Michel Lee is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.