The Holy Bible has been the source for many incredible epics. One might argue that the Book itself is the first epic. From De Mille’s Ten Commandments to Gibson’s recent Passion of the Christ we have been enthralled by tales of faith and the divine since the very birth of the cinema. One Night With The King has all the essential elements to take its place with these classics. The cast includes some of the greatest actors alive in Omar Sharif, Peter O’Toole, and John Rys-Davies. The settings are some of the most beautiful desert lands on earth. Sadly, One Night With The King stands very small in the midst of such brilliance. The film means well, certainly. The story of Esther is not one that has been told on any scale before and is very much worthy of the effort. There appears to be an overwhelming lack of spirit throughout the overlong film. The film always feels staged and the dialogue often too modern sounding to create the necessary illusion. Sharif must have suffered immeasurably opposite a rather forced and dull Luke Goss. Unfortunately a great amount of talent and effort appears wasted on this sub-par film.The supporting cast is simply horrible. There is no dialog discipline at all. Phrases constantly move from modern to mock Shakespearean to gibberish. James Callis is reproducing his Baltar role here.
The story of Esther is actually a compelling one. Based more on the novel Hadassah than the Biblical account, the film has a story with enough potential. She was a young Jewish woman living in Persia. Jews have lost favor in the kingdom and are openly persecuted. Hadassah changes her name to Esther to avoid the ethnic liability. When the Queen defies a summons by her King, she is released from her royal position. Esther finds herself in competition to become the new Queen. It is from this position she hopes to better the plight of her people. The story soon descends into the clichÃ©d plots of intrigue about the crown. Various plots are made and uncovered that put Esther in a vulnerable position. She must eventually reveal her true heritage and once again win over the King’s heart. The script ventures down far too many side roads and soon becomes tedious to follow.
One Night With The King is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The print is very impressive. Colors are quite vibrant and alive. Yellows and reds particularly dominate the lush tapestry. Black levels are only adequate, but contrast is a little better than average. The picture is quite sharp. In fact, it might be a little too sharp. It takes away some of the opportunities of realism the filmmaker’s should have been attempting. Some colors are bright beyond the point of realism. The actors’ makeup work is actually very bad, and the detail of this transfer only makes the point that much more obvious.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is unimpressive. There is almost no use of anything but the front three channels. The musical scores are a bit subdued so that nothing remarkable or dynamic escapes into your room. You might as well turn off your powered sub. Mine shut off on its own because of lack of signal. At least dialogue is usually fine.
Forget about it. Fox certainly did.
I can’t tell you enough how disappointed I was in this production. It had everything going for it. I took one look at this thing and thought I was in for a nice treat. The tag line says you will feel the destiny. Fox must be dreaming. I sure felt like I was. If you have any luck following the plot, you may like it better. I will warn you, however: “No one can tell from whence it comes or where it goes.”