No other source makes up for more intense and interesting stories than that of the Holy Bible.
Numerous tales have been picked up by Hollywood to appear on the big screen and the film, Esther and the King, is the fourth version of this particular Bible tale. The movie premiered in 1960 and starred Joan
Collins, Richard Egan, and Denis O’Dea. Being a Hollywood movie, there are obviously some things that have been embellished for the sake of a box office draw.
The story tells the basic story of Esther (Collins) who is taken as the wife of the King of Persia, Ahasuerus (Egan). While sticking to the basic outline of the story, the movie does of course take liberties – instead of Esther being chosen by the King from a line of eligible girls, she is the fiancée of one of the King’s guards, Simon. She is however stolen away by the palace guards to be chosen. The movie does follow most of the bible story, though it has its moments of Hollywood style.
Collins does bring a determined, yet innocent quality to her role as Esther, though there are times when the script gets a little too heavy. For example, at the beginning she is shown as being compassionate, but also very outspoken in regards to what she perceives is the King’s will to destroy all that stand in his way. By the time she sees Ahasuerus, it feels as though she goes all girly and ga ga for him and falls in love around the halfway mark, despite basically loathing him and his practices at the start. Thankfully though, some of that spunk returns when Esther counters the evil Haman (Sergio Fantoni) as he tries to have the Jewish people annihilated and again when her uncle Mordecai (O’Dea) is sentenced to death for being a traitor.
While Collins does a decent job, the rest of the cast is pseudo okay. Egan’s turn as Ahasuerus isn’t as good as say his role as the doctor in Pollyanna, though it is interesting to note that he also played King Leonidas in the 1962 version of The 300 Spartans. That’s what Esther is almost – a scaled down, 1960’s version of 300, but without the sex and violence that audiences are familiar with, even with the same plot, though to be fair everyone tried to overthrow the kings of old to suit their means. The difference between the movies is 300 was somewhat historically accurate and entertaining; Esther isn’t quite there yet.
The character of Simon, the fiancé caught in the middle, seems rather unnecessary, especially when you consider his being taken out anyway at the end of the film. His purpose essentially is to be the romantic foil and the red shirt; the fact that he lasted until the end, only showing up to do some battle scenes proves that he’s not that important. The same can be said for Haman’s concubine, whom he sends in order to gain the king’s favor. It’s just painfully obviously that she’s going to die fifteen minutes after she’s made her appearance. It would have been more interesting if a decision were to be between her and Esther for the king’s affections. The character had the makings a great villainous femme fatale.
Overall, the movie itself is slow to start and by the time it should be interesting, it’s over. If anyone is looking for an abridged Bible lesson on Esther, this could work to the advantage if just to give an overview (like crib notes). If, however, someone is looking for a complete retelling or something a little more in depth, it’s better to seek out a better representation with a more concentrated view on Esther herself and her decisions and role in the Jewish holiday known as Purim.
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Filed Under: Movie Reviews