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King Solomon led a grand life, thus rating this epic movie told in two parts, averaging 86 minutes apiece. Director Roger Young chronicles the king's rise from the weakling mama's boy of Bathsheba to a ruler known for his wisdom, international alliances, construction of the Jewish temple, and oh yes, those thousand wives--concubines included. Part 1 spends the first hour tracing the rivalry of Solomon (Ben Cross) with half-brother Adonijah, before and after the death of their father King David (Max Von Sydow in a brief appearance). It then makes a 10-year leap to dramatize his famous method of divining the true mother of a contested infant. In Part 2, the filmmakers embrace the legend that Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (Vivica A. Fox) had a romantic as well as political alliance, suggesting that they were the star-crossed loves of each other's life and introducing some soft-focus nudity. With the queen's departure, Solomon descends into materialism and idolatry. The performances are strong and the script, penned by Bradley Winter, artfully weaves in background information to give the viewer helpful historical context. --Kimberly Heinrichs
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