Michael O. Sajbel, dir. One Night with the King. 20th Century Fox, 2006. 124 min. PG
Shanna and I watched One Night with the King last night and were incredibly (!) disappointed. We had just finished reading Esther in our Bible reading, so the story was fresh on our minds. We were expecting the movie to tell faithfully the story of Esther. Not so. Probably only 25% of the movie corresponds to the biblical account. I’m not talking about just filling in the details. I’m talking about totally scrapping the biblical story, picking up a handful of those scraps, and then putting them back together in such a way that they are virtually unrecognizable. Well, maybe that’s a little overstatement, but you get my point. Over and over throughout the movie, we’d stop and say, “What?! That’s not how that happened! Why did they change that?” Not quite The Gospel of John! (More like The Ten Commandments.) It wasn’t until the end that we learned that the movie wasn’t supposed to be retelling the biblical story of Esther but the fictional story of the novel Hadassah: One Night with the King. (I vaguely remember reading that, but had forgotten.) Knowing that up front would probably have helped significantly.
Apart from our disappointment with the storyline, the quality of the movie left much to be desired. I’m not sure whether cheesy or goofy is the better descriptor. Esther acted like a silly, giggly little girl. We erupted with laughter on numerous occasions throughout, and I’m fairly certain that, for most of them, the humor we saw wasn’t intended.
For all of the not-so-positive things I’ve said, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you not watch it. Even in spite of our disappointments, it was mildly enjoyable and helped to bring the Bible to life (at least the portions of the film that followed the biblical story). As long as your expectations for faithfulness to the biblical account are low and you’re ready to laugh a bit at some goofiness, you should be able to watch it with some enjoyment and profit. But you may want to wait until you can get it from your local library.
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