When King Xerxes banished his wife, Queen Vashti, for refusing to obey him, he called all the young women of the Persian kingdom to come and audition to be his new queen. Among them was Esther, a Jewess, whose cousin Mordecai instructed her to hide her ethnic identity from the royal leaders. Little did either of them know that she had been raised up by God for such a time to save His people from certain destruction.
Production Quality (2 points)
Though this film was made before the 2000s, Affirm Films demonstrated even in 1999 that they were committed to professional production quality. Video quality and camera work are good in this film, even if lighting is sometimes inconsistent. Audio quality is average, and the soundtrack leaves something to be desired. The biggest win for this production is the professional and historically authentic sets, locations, and props which demonstrate care for accuracy. The editing is fine but it could use a little improvement. Overall, this is a respectable production and shows why Affirm is where they are today.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)
This rendition of the story of Esther was likely the first of its kind in the modern era, later to be follow by For Such a Time As This, One Night With the King, and the deplorable Book of Esther. In this 1999 version, care is also given to an accurate retelling of the story, even if it is a little too literal. This is the only film we’ve seen that portrays Xerxes very well and likely accurate to the historical figure. At least this story shies away from the silly ‘love story’ trope that modern film writers try to force into the account. However, the characters in this version still don’t seem like real people as they are too dramatic and boring at the same time. There are a lot of dead sequences and not enough substantial dialogue. Overall, this was a nice try, but not good enough.
Acting Quality (1 point)
This cast, though semi-professional, is overly theatrical and too practiced. Though costuming is culturally authentic, the casting is not always this way. Emotions are also forced and feel manufactured, like this is some sort of Bible play. Yet not all is bad here and this rounds out an acceptable effort.
A lot of time and money was likely spent on sets and costumes in this film, much like its later relation, One Night With the King. However, what both of these films forget is substance. Though Esther is better at adhering to the true historical account, it is still not presented in an interesting way that will engage audiences. Biblical film makers can learn from this to not abandon accuracy but still develop the characters like they’re real people, not lofty ‘heroes’ that have no connection to us today.
Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points