One Night With The King Blu-ray Review
Sometimes it’s hard as a critic to judge a film that has some kind of positive message or story. Such a film is ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING. Released in 2006 by the “Faith” arm of 20th Century Fox, the film is based on the story of Esther, former Queen of Persia. Jews the world over celebrate Purim in part because of her, as she was an instrumental part of saving her people from extinction. Next time you hear the “Dreidel” song on SOUTH PARK please think of Esther.
Her parents dead, young Hadassah (later Esther) is taken in by her cousin Mordecai (John Rhyss-Davies). She grows into a beautiful young woman (Dupont). Over at the palace King Xerxes (Goss) is having a party and calls for his wife to join him. When she refuses he has her “dispatched.” Like all grieving husbands he decides to advertise for a new queen. A “contest” is held, with all of the most beautiful virgins in the land gathered together to learn the ways of royalty. After their training they will be allowed to spend one night with the King. He then gets to choose his queen. Think of it as THE BACHELOR: OLD TESTAMENT STYLE! When her turn comes, Esther is taken with the other women to the king’s treasury. The women are told that they can take anything they want to wear in the presence of the king and if he is pleased with them they can keep it. While most of the women grab gaudy necklaces and bracelets Esther chooses a simple chain. Obviously, in the words of the Grail Knight in INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, she “chose wisely.” Now queen, Esther must begin to educate her husband, who has been convinced to authorize the extermination of all Jews after Mordecai refused to bow to an area prince. Can Esther help her people?
Terribly written with a leading lady as wooden as my dining room table, ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING is a film that embellishes its story to the point of distraction. I’m sure that the filmmakers felt they needed to spice up a familiar tale but it’s done so poorly that it’s almost laughable. Scene after scene of great dinners, with glasses of wine held high, are inner spliced with quiet moments between Esther and Xerxes. The dialogue is hysterically bad. When Mordecai tells a woman that a brawl is no place for a woman she replies, “Then why’s a good Jew like you going?” And speaking of embellishment, please don’t be fooled by the names splashed on the DVD cover. Yes, first billed Peter O’Toole IS in the film. For about 30 seconds. And it’s only that long because he has a quick bit in slow motion. Omar Sharif actually does have some screen time, though it’s a shame they couldn’t work him in to O’Toole’s half minute. It would be nice to witness a little LAWRENCE OF ARABIA reunion. Of the other “name” actors, John Rhyss-Davies and Luke Goss give the best performances. And a tip of the hat to Tommy “Tiny” Lister, who shows some dramatic chops he didn’t have to use in the FRIDAY films. On the other side of the spectrum you have Tiffany Dupont. She’s a cutie, to say the least. But sadly she has no emotion. The only way to tell if she’s happy or sad is to see how far her mouth is open. Wide with teeth showing – happy. Not as wide with not so many teeth – sad. Her delivery is flat, even when she and Xerxes are expressing their love for each other. Maybe she was just as bored with the film as I was.
Video: Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio the film itself is well transferred. Making use of the film’s presumed location and the colorful history of Persia the film is pretty to look at.
Audio: Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the audio transfer is clean and clear. Background noises do not bleed over into conversations, which is a plus because some of the characters, notably Lister, speak in low tones.
Audio Commentary: A very by the book commentary is provided by co-producers Richard Cook, Matthew Crouch and Stephan Blinn, who also co-wrote the film.