Based upon Jewish history and the Old Testament book, the inspirational film “The Book of Esther” with Joel Smallbone and Jen Lilley from Pure Flix Entertainment is a faith-based movie that presents an interpretation of the Biblical story Esther. In the Pure Flix version, the King of Persia, Xerxes (or Ahasuerus) has married the most beautiful woman in the world, but his wife Vashti is a vain and arrogant woman who thinks her husband a fool.
Having refused to dine with her husband at a feast soon after their wedding, Queen Vashti is requested by the king to dance before his guests to show her beauty, something she refuses to do. Xerxes takes this blatant display of disobedience badly, worried that all women will learn disobedience from Vashti’s actions, so he removes her as queen and as his wife.
The orphaned Esther is being raised by her uncle Mordecai (her cousin, according to the Bible) who serves on the king’s council. When Mordecai tells Esther why the king has put Vashti away, Esther says the queen may not have wanted to flaunt herself in that fashion and that she would also have refused to dance out of modesty.
Because the king is now without a wife, he holds his own personal beauty pageant to choose a new bride from among the daughters of his lords and his court. Mordecai presents his ward, Esther, who has caught the king’s eye in passing before. Mordecai picks Esther as his new queen, not knowing she is Jewish.
Haman sits on the king’s council with Mordecai, but Haman despises Mordecai and the Jews. When his own daughter is not chosen as the new queen, Haman asks the king to make him prime minister to show the people he still has the king’s esteem. Meanwhile, Mordecai uncovers a plot to kill the king which he reports, earning him more favor. This further infuriates Haman who sets out to destroy Mordecai and the Jews, and he obtains permission from the king to kill all the Jews by twisting the meaning of scripture.
Mordecai asks Esther to go to the king to intercede with the king on behalf of the Jews. Esther knows that to go to the king unsummoned would break the law and be punishable by death. If she stays silent, she can save herself, but if she does not petition the king, all the Jews will be slaughtered. Upon her decision hangs the fate of her people.
The movie begins with a disclaimer that the movie has deleted and added some scenes for dramatic effect, and viewers are encouraged to read the Book of Esther for more inspiration. The movie does indeed add quite a bit to the story of Esther, but the basic Bible tale of a girl’s faithfulness and courage is fairly well told.
“The Book of Esther” movie is obviously not a big-budget film, much of the acting is a bit stilted and some brief comedic scenes verge on silliness, but Jen Lilley makes a sweet Esther while Joel Smallbone (of Christian rock duo For King and Country and brother of Christian artist Rebecca St. James) is believable as Xerxes and brings some depth to the role. 90-minutes long, “The Book of Esther” released on Jun 4, 2013 and is a great movie for families and church groups.