Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Esther and the King|
Actor: Joan Collins; Richard Egan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
The wife of Persian King Ajasueuis has been murdered and a beautiful young Jewish woman Esther is selected to be queen. Trouble awaits Esther and her people however villainous Haman the king s first minister plot to take o... more »
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Lavish "Second String" Biblical Epic With Good Performances
Simon Davis | 10/01/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It is a bit unfair to compare this joint US/Italian epic production from 1960 with the other blockbusters being produced around this time like "Ben Hur", and "Cleopatra", however as a smaller scale effort in this genre there is much to like about "Esther and the King". The late 50's and early 60's were a boom time for these types of productions when alot of film work was being done in Rome rather than in Hollywood because of the lower costs and tax benefits. While this film is very loosely based on the Old Testament book of Esther, it could never be said to adhere to historical fact or chronology and features actors who certainly dont fit the racial groups present in the areas where the story takes place. Those things aside I still consider it a respectable if not spectacular effort that is sincerely played and is blessed with terrific location photography courtesy of the legendary Mario Bava, stunning costumes and richly drawn technicolour all wrapped up in terrific cinemascope. Richard Egan, a veteran of 1950's epic productions and Joan Collins play the two lead characters in this story and actually make an interesting team while never for one moment looking like ancient Persians. Egan in particular at least visually is very miscast but he does still manage to add some depth to his character of King Ahasuerus.
Taking place in the fifth Century BC "Esther and the King", relates the story of the all conquering King Ahasuerus of Persia who is better known in history as Xerxes, a very famous name in Persian history. We see the great Persian Empire at the peak of its all conquering brilliance with as the narration in the prologue informs us, an empire that stretches from India to Ethiopia. King Ahasuerus has just returned from a triumphant campaign in Egypt to find not all well with how his kingdom and Palace has been run in his absense. He finds he has to contend with the devious ambition of his First Minister Haman, (Sergio Fantoni),who in his absence has been taking the law into his own hands dispensing his ruthless form of "justice" without trial. Queen Vashti (Daniela Rocca), has also been busy during his absence conducting a blatant affair with Haman. Only the devotion and wise counsel of his advisor Mordecai (Denis O'Dea), a secret worshiper of Jehovah, can be relied upon in these dangerous times. Long suspecting Queen Vashti of infidelty, Ahasuerus banishes her from his sight however at the welcome home banquet she appears anyway and disgraces herself in front of the king by performing a seductive dance. Haman decides now that Vashti is of no use to his plans for seizing the throne and has her secretly murdered hoping to place his own favourite concubine on the throne in her place. However Ahasuerus has other plans and a search is begun for suitable candidates for the role of Queen. Meanwhile Mordecai's neice Esther (Joan Collins), is preparing to marry her sweetheart Simon (Rik Battaglia) who has just returned from the Egyptian campaign with Ahasuerus. The king's men however snatch Esther away just before the wedding and Simon becomes a hunted man when he puts up resistance to the King's orders. Esther is taken to the Palace where she is tutored by the head Eunuch in the ways of a potential queen. Haman's plans to have his own choice chosen by the king however come to naught as Esther impresses everyone by her humility. Haman sets out to destroy Esther before the king makes his choice and employes the same hired killer to do away with her like he did Queen Vashti. However a mistake is made and Haman's candidate is murdered . King Asasuerus is immediately taken by Esther's beauty and modest bearing and he selects her as his new Queen. Over time Esther begins to feel real love for the king and influences him toward better treatment of the jewish minorities within the borders of the Persian Empire. Bent on revenge however Haman becomes a dangerous rival for Esther and after deliberatly setting up Mordecai to appear to be a traitor to the King, Ahasuerus sends him away, sets up a policy of the jews having to abandon their faith or be killed and worse still removes Esther from his sight. Haman at last makes his move to secure the throne and attempts to take the King's life just outside the city. Informed by the fugitive Simon about who really tried to ambush him Ahasuerus learns from Haman's off sider of the real person responsible and that Esther and Mordecai are innocent of any wrong doing. Arriving back in the city just in time to stop Haman from hanging Mordecai for supposed treason Haman himself is captured and hung in his place. After returning from his next campaign Ahasuerus realises how he was totally mislead and when he is greeted by a still devoted Esther he takes her back into her rightful place as his queen.
"Esther and the King", makes first and foremost an interesting story of palace intrigue and if you ignore the shaky history applied here, most notably in Ahasuerus' plans to teach the young Alexander of Greece a real lesson despite the fact that Alexander the Great wasn't even born in this period, you are guaranteed enjoyable viewing. Richard Egan does make an odd choice as the King of Persia with his fair complexion and clean shaven face and a much better attempt of depicting historically correct Persians was done in another of his efforts "The 300 Spartans" in 1962. Joan Collins despite her own quoted dislike of this film effort is refreshingly sincere as the good hearted Esther and it is interesting to see her in a role where she has a sympathetic character for a change. Her scenes especially with Sergio Fantoni's villianess Haman do bring the film alive and provide it with some real spark. Denis O'Dea as the kindly Mordecai also brings a quiet dignity to the proceedings as the secret jew who has the ear and trust of the King and his speeches about tolerance of minorities and their beliefs now has a curiously modern ring to it. Also in the brief role of the disgraced former Queen Vashti Daniela Rocca, a beautiful Italian actress also makes the most of her brief scenes as the unfaithful Queen who pays a high price for her infidelities. The look of "Esther and the King", is what you would expect of old of these older epic productions. It boasts some very beautiful location photography in the ruins just outside Rome which stand in for ancient Persia and the interior sets are suitably lavish with Ahasuerus' harem in particular being marvellously opulent and garish. The main palace sets have an interesting mix of Babylonian and Persian designs that were lifted from old historical texts by the designers and the brilliant colour photography also greatly enhances the look and feel of "Esther and the King", making it a worthy addition to the "epic' stable of films.
Directed, produced and partly written by Hollywood veteran Raoul Walsh it marked one of the last film efforts by this legendary Hollywood identity before he retired. For a journey back to old style movie making on a lavish scale "Esther and the King", is a good if not great example of the unique collaboration between Italian and American filmmakers in the early 1960's. The films underlying message despite its mishandling of historical fact is still a relevant one however and the earnest performances make this film a good addition to any epic movie lovers collection."
Lousy lousy lousy
Theodore Voelkel | Winchester, MA United States | 06/22/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Contentwise, I won't toss darts OR roses. This is genre stuff. You either like it or you don't. My beef is with the technical quality. It is execrable. (1) It is NOT in widescreen (Cinemascope), which it ought to be for a biblical spectacular. There is simply no excuse for cranking out a full-screen treatment in a DVD issued in the year 2000. (2) The so-called "digital remastering" must be kitchen-table grade, because the shapes are fuzzy, colors oversaturated, visuals mushy. This DVD should be withdrawn from the market and a new widescreen version substituted. I get better quality from my VHS of this movie than the DVD I purchased. Lousy lousy lousy, as I said."
Luscha St Louis | Trinidad, WI | 03/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie eons ago as a child and never forgot it. I only remembered bits and pieces of the film. I searched Amazon.com for months to find it, but couldn't. Then suddenly....there it was! Esther and the King! I purchased it at once. The film was just as I remembered. The only problem with the DVD is the audio. You cannot hear the dialogue clearly and with no subtitles it's hard to pick up what's going on. I hope they can re-release it with a better audio track."
Don't be fooled!
Lucia Zablah Siri | Nueva San Salvador, El Salvador | 10/16/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This is definitely NOT the biblical story of Queen Esther and the King.
If you are looking for a hollywood classic that is not true to the bible, then this might be for you.
If what you are seeking is for a movie of the story of Queen Esther this is NOT the product for you! The only thing it has in common with the bible story are the names! In this case I would suggest you purchase The Bible - Esther or One Night With the King
If you need examples of why this movie is not bibilical at all, let me explain (WARNING: SPOILER IN THE NEXT SENTENCES):
I was shocked when in the first ten minutes of the movie, there was a scene of adultery committed between Vashti and Haman! When the king returns from war, he is greeted by "Lord Mordecai"!!(??) then, in the celebration in the palace, Queen Vashti danced in a bikini like a regular Shakira in front of all the guests, and ended the dance in front of the king, in defiance, ripping off her top!! The king, angered, later orders a servant to smother Vashti with a pillow and kill her!! All this in the first 25 mins of the movie!! Need I say more???"