ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING (The story of Esther)
ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING (The story of Esther)
One Night with the King is a 2006 American historical epic film produced by Matt Crouch and Laurie Crouch of Gener8Xion Entertainment, directed by Michael O. Sajbel, and starring Peter O'Toole, Tiffany Dupont, John Rhys-Davies and Luke Goss.
The screenplay by Stephan Blinn is based on Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olsen's novel Hadassah: One Night with the King and Nathaniel Weinreb's novel Esther (the latter uncredited, but the film closely follows Weinreb's book in plot, including direct quotes and events in the novel), One Night with the King is a dramatization of the Biblical story of Esther, who risked her life by approaching the King of Persia to request that he save the Jewish people.
The movie is set in Susa, Persia (modern-day Iran). King Xerxes holds a great feast for all the people to attend. Hadassah (the main protagonist) longs to go to Jerusalem to see the Holy Land and prepares to leave with the caravan along with her friend, Jesse. They stop by the King's feast before he goes marching to war to avenge his father's death. Hadassah and Jesse witness the King summoning Queen Vashti. Queen Vashti was opposed to the war, desiring King Xerxes to enhance his kingdom instead. She holds her own feast in protest to the war. When the king summons her to his own feast, she refuses to come stating, "I am queen, and I will not lower my dignity. Or shame my crown by wearing it before your drunk, and thinly veiled war council". Because of this, King Xerxes is advised to banish her and select a more worthy queen.
All beautiful virgin women in the stronghold of Susa are brought in so Xerxes could leave behind a queen to keep the kingdom unified. Under the command of her foster-father, "Uncle Mordecai" (who was one of the king's scribes and worked in the palace), Hadassah does not reveal her nationality or family and changes her name to "Esther" (after the Babylonian goddess Ishtar). She is taken in with the rest of the selected women and given cosmetics, perfumes, and treatments under the care of Hegai, the king's royal eunuch. Through her quick wit, intelligence, and integrity, she becomes Hegai's favorite contestant.
On their night with the king, each female slave is allowed to bring along whatever she wishes from the harem. She goes in the evening and returns in the morning to a second harem to another royal eunuch who is custodian to the concubines. She will not be able to return to the king unless she pleases him and he summons her by name. During their preparation, Hegai discovers Esther can read and listens to her reading to the other contestants. He admires her bravery. Late into the night, he brings her to King Xerxes to read to him. She starts reading from the assigned scroll and then begins telling the love story of Jacob and Rachel (from the Old Testament). He is amused and intrigued and dismisses her, saying she would read to him again. From this interaction, Esther falls in love with the King. When it is Esther's turn for her 'one night with the king', she only wears what Hegai advises. She wins the king's favor by revealing her heart to him. He chooses her and crowns her queen.
Simultaneously, Haman the Agagite is promoted to the highest-ranking official. He has all the king's servants at the royal gate to kneel before him. Mordecai refuses, declaring he will only kneel before God and the king. He announces himself before Haman to be a son of Abraham, a Jew. Haman, filled with vengeance and hatred, seeks to destroy Mordecai and all his people because centuries earlier, Jews persecuted his forefathers.
Esther discovers the plot and breaks protocol by going before the king unsummoned, risking her life to plead for her people. The king lowers his scepter to her and spares her life out of his love for her. She invites the king and Haman to a banquet and there reveals her nationality and Haman's plot to kill the Jews. The king, overwhelmed by her revelation, leaves the banquet. Haman then assaults Esther. The king saves her and, in his fury, commands Haman be hanged on the gallows he had erected to hang Mordecai for revenge. After Haman is taken away, the king goes to Esther's side. Esther asks, "What made you come back"? And the king responds with, "I saw the stars". Then King Xerxes kisses Esther, with the camera pulling away from the small temple.
The ending shows Mordecai being made a Prince of Persia, and issuing a royal decree in his own name, with flashbacks of Esther being made Queen, and the crowd of Jews cheering in the streets. The last scenes show the small temple and Mordecai saying, "Thus dictated, I order this decree sent out under the great seal of Mordecai, Prince of Persia, a Jew".