A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a well-crafted epic that remains true to the biblical story of Esther. Some characters plot, scheme, kill, and steal, but there's not much sexual content, and the violence is limited to some stabbings (very little blood is shown). Overall the movie is definitely family-friendly -- hence our green "on" rating despite a little bit of iffy material.
What's the story?
Esther begins life as Hadassah, growing up in Susa, the capitol of Persia, under the watchful eye of her uncle, Mordecai (John Rhys-Davies), a scribe in the royal palace. Orphaned at a young age when her parents are murdered, Hadassah dreams of returning to Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people. When Haman the Agagite (James Callis), a descendant of one of the Jews' mortal enemies and the man responsible for Hadassah's parents' deaths, sets in motion the queen's banishment for her stance against a looming war with Greece, King Xerxes (Luke Goss) is desperate to avenge his father's battles. On the verge of departing for war, Xerxes' princes press upon him the importance of leaving a queen behind to keep the people together. Many young girls -- including Hadassah -- are rounded up and taken into the palace to prepare for their presentation to the king. Mordecai warns Hadassah to keep her Jewish identity a secret, so she changes her name to Esther and immediately makes an impression on Hagai (Tommy Lister), the king's aide assigned to oversee the girls. Instead of plotting and scheming to attract the king's attention, Esther stirs the king's passion by being herself -- a smart, savvy, independent girl. When a plot to poison the king is discovered, Esther quickly finds herself embroiled in the dangerous world of politics.
Is it any good?
Not too many bona-fide epics get made anymore, but this gorgeous film definitely fits into that category. It's easy to forget that the Bible is filled with intrigue, romance, and adventure; ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING reminds us of that by telling the story of Esther, the young Jewish orphan who started out as a lowly peasant but eventually became queen of Persia. Shot on location in the exotic ancient Mogul palaces of Rajasthan, India, One Night With the King features beautiful cinematography and lavish costumes. Dupont is superb as Esther, holding her own among screen legends like Peter O'Toole (as Samuel the prophet) and Omar Sharif (as Prince Memucan).
Esther is a good example of what it means to be courageous and stand true to your beliefs, and the film is a beautiful, heart-wrenching love story intermixed with adventure, intrigue, and -- ultimately -- the bravery of a lone girl standing up against a tyrannical plot. At its core, One Night With the King explores hatred, racism, revenge, and courage -- things that, sadly, are still worldwide problem centuries later.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how a queen was chosen in biblical times (from a harem of girls, trained in how to behave for the king). Families can also discuss how courageous Esther was to risk her own life to save her people. Why did she have to keep her Jewish identity a secret, and how does destiny play into this story? Why was Haman determined to kill Esther's parents and destroy the Jews? Why did he feel that war was necessary? Families can also talk about the difference between using power for evil and for good.
- In theaters: October 12, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: January 30, 2007
- Cast: Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Tiffany Dupont
- Director: Michael O. Sajbel
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History
- Run time: 123 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: violence, some sensuality and thematic elements.
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.