One night with the king (2006, USA)

onenightI have ambiguous feelings about seeing actors in new roles. In One night with the king there were two actors I have seen only in one TV series each. Now, I had a hard time disassociating them from the characters they played in those from the one they played in this movie. in this. James Callis played the evil Haman in this retelling of the Purim story (aka Esther’s from the Bible), while he had a much more complex personality, yet also sin-ridden, Baltar in Battlestar Galactica. John Noble (who is 61 years old today) plays an absent-minded, brilliant, secret-laden scientist in the TV series Fringe, while here he was (in a rather unnatural looking wig) Prince Admantha, also with sinister intentions. This problem of disassociation is much less of a problem with actors whom I have seen in lots of roles. Peter O’Toole appeared in one scene as Samuel the prophet and Omar Sharif in several scenes as Prince Memucan. They were both fine and despite recognizing the actors behind the roles I had no problem believing who they purported to be.

The speed of the action occasionally lulled, but I always enjoyed the lush visuals with two exceptions. The scenery, particularly the design of palace, was clearly inspired by Lord of the Rings movie and was magnificent. The costumes were similarly a joy to look at. However the makeup department’s work was not so good. The beards and wigs were too often obviously add-ons. They also should have done something with Esther/Hadassah’s shoulders. It seems halfway through the shooting she got a tan in a bikini with shoulder straps. From then one, every time she wore a fancy dress revealing her shoulder the two-tone color of her skin was also revealed. The production could also have used somebody focusing on continuity. For example Esther’s necklace, a key newly-added piece in this retelling of the old story, was on and off from here neck within the same scene, depending which camera angel we see the action from. This was just one of the more daring of many goofs.

Having said the above, the film is utterly beautiful, and the drama is as epic as you wish. Purists may not like it as it seriously embellishes the original story, adding new characters, plot elements, and objects; but in my view these additions were well integrated into the movie.

DVD @ Amazon.com

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