In this cinematically brilliant retelling of the Old Testament story of Esther, director Amos Gitai constructs his film in a series of sumptuously colored long takes. Yet under the film’s splendid surface, shot by famed pre-New Wave cinematographer Henri Alekan, things don’t quite mesh. Individual characters clash visually with their backgrounds, and one part of a sequence seems somehow to contradict another. But such disparities encourage the viewer to play an active, thinking role in apprehending the film as a whole. The film, a Chicago premiere inaugurating a retrospective of Gitai’s highly original films, will be introduced by Gitai himself. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, November 4, 6:00 and 8:00, and Sunday, November 5, 6:00, 443-3737)