Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration (movie review)

Last week my wife and I went to see the new Joseph Smith movie which has replaced “Testaments” at the Legacy Theater in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. First off, you should know that I am not a big movie goer. I think my wife and I only saw one movie in the theater in all of 2005. We haven’t seen the latest Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or Star Wars movies. Call us weird, but it’s just not our thing. We do still enjoy a good classic now and then, or a musical. So my review should not be taken very seriously. :)

Anyway, I enjoyed the Joseph Smith movie. It was more or less snippets and scenes from the life of Joseph Smith – a very broad biography. In only 68 minutes you can’t go into a lot of detail, so they didn’t. But you get a glimpse of Joseph Smith’s personality, the trials and persecution he went through, and what others thought about him, good and bad.

There seemed to be a very large focus on his trials. I came away thinking, “Wow, he sure suffered a lot!” It showed lots of angelic visitations, and had some good one-liners to answer some questions that might be in the minds of non-Mormons as they watch it. For those who are wondering, the First Vision scene did show the satanic attack (although it didn’t explain why it happened), and there was no mention of polygamy.

One of my favorite scenes was when Joseph was out whacking a rug in the yard, and an Irish saint came to him and said something like, “Joseph, pardon me, but I don’t think a man of your great status should be engaged in such menial chores.”
Joseph replied with a smile, “How long have you been married?”
“Three years.”
“That long? May I offer you some advice?”
“Aye.”
“The Lord intends a marriage to last a lot longer than three years. In fact, he intends it to last forever. Now, if a wife doesn’t want her husband in this life, why would she want him in the next? You give that some thought.”

That was paraphrasing, of course, but it was a pretty humerous scene.
Anyway, for those who have seen the movie, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. And for those who haven’t…umm…go see it, I guess!

3 thoughts on “Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration (movie review)”

  1. So I finally got around to seeing it myself as well today, well all but the first ~5 minutes or so. Now the nerd in me kept going “bu-bu-bu-but what about the obscure trivia and blah-blah etc, and slow down etc.” Yeah it was fast paced, but consider the intent and target audience. No matter how they try probing the fourth wall, passive movies can not give sufficent interaction to instruct and convey. Instead they can only stimulate and impress. And that’s why this movie is effective.

    It’s a shorter time frame so as not to waste time droning on in theatrics, and to reach as large of an audience as possible. It doesn’t wander off on doctrinal tangents, instead it focuses on the applied gospel. While it doesn’t abandon the “who was Joseph” theme, it does explore much more significantly the “who is Joseph to me” theme much more effectively I think than many previous production.

    Maybe I was too young when I first saw the old Stuart Peterson(?) “The First Vision”, but I was less disturbed by the rendition of Satan’s attack in this one. The mobbings were quite ‘gracious’ to the severity of the period. Unfortunately, the psychology of ‘fast’ highs and ‘slow’ lows resulted in the impression that the persecutions comprised the majority of the film time.

    I guess my thought afterwards was perhaps we focus a bit too much on the Missouri Mormon Mentality – ie dwelling on the heartaches and tribulations. We weren’t there, and I don’t think that we’d ever be able to appreciate what they went through. I’m not suggesting we sweep it under the rug, I’m just wondering if we dwell on the negatives too much at the expense of the positives.

    I almost laughed during one part where there’s a member of the mob that looks suspiciously like Napoleon Dynamite. Is that some sort of subtle message or something?

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have a real hard time with portrayals ordinances and visitations outside of instructional settings. Maybe I’m just hard-core old-school, I just put it next to over-repetitive casual usage of the name of God.

    One of the keys to the theme I guess can be pulled from near the end. Two guys are briefly dicussing the Warsaw Signal’s response to the Nauvoo Expositor termination, but it’s clear that they are the background, and the long focus is on Joseph and Emma visiting the Temple.

    A Truman G. Madsen lecture it is not, but it is a tremendous window to the Gospel in Joseph’s life, and his role in our own.

  2. I have seen the Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration twice and came away with a stronger testimony of him. I have plans of seeing it again (twice in the next two weeks). I thought the film brought forth what so many really don’t understand…the horrendous persecutions that Joseph Smith went through and not once wavered from the truth. People need to be reminded that with all the tripe books about Joseph Smith written by “ex-Mormons” or “non-Mormons”, that Joseph Smith could have backed down and out of his trials if he lied, just by saying he lied. I know he didn’t lie and this movie helps to bring forth that truthfulness for Mormons and non Mormons alike. I appreciate the professionalism and integrity in which the Prophet Josephs life is brought to the screen. It was profound and touching. My heart broke when I learned of how he died when I first joined the LDS Church, with this movie it reminded me of what I felt then and still do to this day. He could have backed away at any time, he didn’t. He truly was a Prophet of God.

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