Of all the Bible sories, I find the The Book of Esther does not flow as easily as others, but nevertheless, this film based on the story is interesting; it is faithful to scripture, with a few additions to fill out the plot.
Queen Esther is beautifully cast with English actress Louise Lombard (seen in 2004's "Hidalgo"), and Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham excellent as her cousin and guardian Mordecai.
King Ahasuerus (historically known as Xerxes) is a character I find hard to like; he appears to be an indecisive and capricious man, who puts all his trust in the evil Haman (well played by German actor Jurgen Prochnow). It is Esther who courageously stands up to Haman when he tries to annihilate all the Jews of the land.
The main addition to the story is the inclusion of Ezra as a friend of Mordechai. Ezra was the scribe and priest who led a remnant of the Jewish captives back to Jerusalem, but this would come twenty years later, under the reign of King Artaxerxes, in 457 B.C. Having Ezra in the story also emphasizes the importance of God, whereas in the Book of Esther, no mention of God is made.
Directed by Raffaele Mertes (who was the cinematographer for most of the other films in this television series), it has a good score by Carlo Siliotto, lovely cinematography by Giovanni Galasso in the exotic area of Quarzazate, Morocco, with the use of a wonderful color palette in the costumes, using rich earth tones and shades of teal and olive greens.
The story of Esther is the basis for the Jewish Festival of Purim, which is a grand time for children; it's a time to dress up in costumes and masks, eat sweets, and best of all, twirl one's gragger (noisemaker) whenever Haman's name is mentioned in the reading of the story.