The movie is set in Susa, Persia (now 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 contestant 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".
The film generally adheres to the main plot of the Biblical version. However, the film adds stylistic elements not present in the Biblical story, as well as depicting several non-Biblical minor characters. The story presents many facets that could have happened rather than strictly sticking to Biblical texts. For example, the build-up to the Biblical story's climax focuses mainly on Haman and his plot to destroy the Jews, whereas Esther is hardly featured until chapter 6. In the film, Esther is featured prominently throughout, and it is Haman who receives very little screen-time until the last third of the film, although his presence is felt throughout.
Production and sales
The movie’s Premiere Night took place at Mann Bruins Theater in Los Angeles, California. The movie, filmed entirely in the state of Rajasthan, India, was released in theaters on October 13, 2006. During its opening weekend, it earned $4,120,497 in theaters. By the end of its theatrical run, the film had earned $13,395,961 domestically, and $13,728,450 worldwide.Tiffany Dupont as Hadassah/Esther, the main protagonist.Luke Goss as King Xerxes I of Persia, Esther's love interest and insecure in his new position as king and therefore almost submits to the influence of the Princes of the Face.John Rhys-Davies as Mordecai, Esther's uncle and father figure.Omar Sharif as Prince Memucan, one of the few truly loyal Princes of the Face.Tommy Lister, Jr. as Hegai, the Royal Eunuch, the harem's bodyguard.Jonah Lotan as Jesse, Esther's close friend who becomes a Eunuch in the Persian palace.John Noble as Prince Admatha, a scheming Prince of the Face who plots to become king himself.James Callis as Haman, the Agagite, the film's main antagonist, Haman plans to use his position of power to kill the Jewish inhabitants of Persia. Scenes including Haman and his henchmen in the film make use of imagery associated with Nazism, including swastika-like symbols and torchlit nighttime rallies.Peter O'Toole as Prophet SamuelDenzil Smith as Prince CarshenaJyoti Dogra as Queen of Persia VashtiTom Alter as King Saul of IsraelAditya Bal as Amalekite King AgagDilshad Patel as HannahNimrat Kaur as Sarah
The movie was filmed entirely in the state of Rajasthan, India.
Jeannie Tenney wrote and sang "One Night with the King", which can be heard during the final credits. She was a co-author with her husband, Tommy Tenney (also a producer of the film), of the book upon which the film is based.
The Genius Club from writer/director Tim Chey was also released theatrically in 2006. The film's trailers showed before One Night With The King.
One Night with the King was released to theaters on October 13, 2006. During its opening weekend, it earned $4,120,497 in theaters. By the end of its theatrical run, the film had received $13,395,961 domestically, with $13,728,450 worldwide. Subsequent DVD sales were strong at $20,688,299, more than making up for production costs. The success of this film encouraged Fox studio executives to approve production of the even more ambitious Exodus: Gods And Kings project.
One Night with the King received a generally negative reception from the secular press, garnering a 19% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 26 reviews, with a composite average of 4.4 out of 10, with one reviewer, V.A. Musetto of the New York Post, noting that, "The cinematography and sets look great, but the script is a bummer. It's overlong, overwrought and overblown." The film was awarded four Doves by The Dove Foundation and received the Dove Family-Approved Seal. MovieGuide has also reviewed the film fairly favourably, giving it 3 out of 4 stars, saying that "despite some minor flaws, [it] brings back the biblical epic in an entertaining, inspiring way." The movie has also been endorsed by the American Bible Society.
The British Board of Film Classification granted this motion picture a PG certificate, noting that it contained "images of moderate battle violence".
In the US, One Night With The King is also rated PG by the MPAA for violence, some sensuality and thematic elements.