October 12, 2006
New Queen Esther flick is whole ‘nother megillah entirely
A Christian company spreads Purim's message to 'faith families'
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"I stood before them like Moses before Pharaoh and said, 'Let my people go to the movies,'" he quipped.
He denied that the film might be a subtle means to proselytize Jews. "The Esther story predates Christ by 500 years, so there is no connection," he said. "This is a life-affirming movie with a message of dignity and love.
"I coined the expression 'faith family,' but that doesn't mean I make movies to bring people to the Christian faith. It means that I make movies that do not violate anyone's faith."
"One Night" was shot on location at an old majestic palace in Rajasthan, India, and made on a $20 million budget. That's not a great deal by Hollywood blockbuster standards, but is the most expensive of Crouch's productions, with an added $6 million for the marketing and advertising.
The promotional campaign is not entirely above board. For instance, the movie's publicity makes much of "stars" Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif, who get their names above the title, with delicious hints of reprising their masterful collaboration in the epic "Lawrence of Arabia."
While Sharif has a substantial, though not leading, role as adviser to the king, O'Toole gets only about 15 seconds of exposure in a time-wrenching prologue as the prophet Samuel.
Others in the cast are Luke Goss as Persian King Xerxes (better known as Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther) and John Rhys-Davies as Mordechai. Jewish actor James Callis makes a satisfyingly evil Haman; Tommy Lister is a notable royal eunuch, and Israeli actor Jonah Lotan portrays Jesse, a childhood friend of Hadassah, before she became Esther.
Based on a book by Tommy Tenney, the screenplay is by Stephan Blinn. In writing the script, Blinn said, "I wanted to entertain as many people as possible, but I also felt a huge responsibility toward people of the Jewish faith."
'One Night' trailer. Click big arrow to play.
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