PonderIt

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration

Bradley and I went to see the new church film "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" yesterday. It is showing in the Legacy Theater at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

It was an amazing film. The film starts out in late June 1844, with the summons from Governor Ford to attend trial in Carthage, Illinois. A young British convert and her unconvinced father are traveling up the Mississippi to join the Saints. The girl convinces her father to start reading Joseph Smith's testimony and the Book of Mormon. We then flashback to New Hampshire, 1812 (or 1813), and begin telling the story of the prophet's life with the depiction of the operation to remove the disease bone of his leg. The story continues to progress with only occasional flash-forwards to 1844.

There was a strong emphasis on families--Joseph's love and high regard of Alvin is told, and near the end of the film Joseph Smith Sr. asks his son if he will see Alvin again, allowing the prophet to recount the doctrine of eternal families. Hyrum and Joseph's relationship is apparent. We get to witness Emma and Joseph's courtship and love, and also their hardships and dedication to each other. Faith and endurance (and the development and growth of each) were prominently displayed.

I'm always a little wary of depictions of the First Vision, and I thought this one was wonderfully done. The mists of darkness right before the vision were almost frightening--I even felt my stomach clenching. I don't usually dwell much on that part of the story, but the way it was shown in the movie really brought home the seriousness of it. Joseph was in fear of sudden destruction--it must have been a terrible experience--and then, with the appearance of the "pillar of light exactly over [his] head", he was in the presence of God the Father and His Son! I have never really thought this event through in this particular way.

Some of the scenes, like the darkness before the vision, are a little intense. I was grateful that we were able to get a babysitter for our children. The scenes of Liberty Jail, the persecutions of Ohio and Missouri, for example--and yet there wasn't as much time spent on those parts of early Church history as in other films, like Legacy. Not much time was spent on dissention within the Church, the financial troubles of Kirtland, or Zion's Camp. Polygamy was mentioned not at all.

And that's okay. It seemed to me that the primary audience is the general population of the Church, and interested outsiders. I don't think that it was really made for people who don't know anything about the life of the Prophet, and I think that it was made to build and strengthen the testimonies of those who saw it.

It certainly did mine. I came away from the movie with a greater appreciation for the faith and strength of the Prophet and his family and early followers. I feel like I understand just a little more the sacrifice required of him and his brother. I'm grateful the Church made this film.

2 Comments:

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  • That was the best movie i ever saw!it made me a stronger mormon

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/24/2006 1:52 PM  

  • I Just Heard That This Film Came Out On Dvd!
    I Watched It! It Was Great! A Great Film To Learn About Joseph Smith's Life And Death!

    By Anonymous jake, at 12/26/2007 3:22 PM  

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