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September Dawn (2007)



Average Rating: 3.4/10
Reviews Counted: 54
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 47

With its jarring editing, dull love story, and silly dialogue, September Dawn turns a horrific historical event into a banal movie.


Average Rating: 3/10
Critic Reviews: 21
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 20

With its jarring editing, dull love story, and silly dialogue, September Dawn turns a horrific historical event into a banal movie.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 9,235

My Rating

Movie Info

Director Christopher Cain takes an up-close look at the devastation wrought by religious fanaticism with this romantic drama set against the backdrop of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre. As a wagon train of westward-bound settlers makes its way across southern Utah, a confrontation with a congregation of Mormons soon leads to deadly consequences for all involved. Jon Voight, Lolita Davidovich, and Jon Gries co-star in a historical drama centered on the massacre, which continues to stir


Western, Drama

Carole Whang Schutter, Christopher Cain

Jan 1, 2008


Slowhand Releasing - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (56) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (7) | Rotten (47) | DVD (3)

The villainous turns by Jon Voight (as a hard-hearted Mormon bishop) and Terence Stamp (as a bloodthirsty Brigham Young) would have been more fun if they weren't part of such a clumsy campaign to lay this tragedy at the church's doorstep.

December 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The workmanlike craftsmanship of Cain's filmmaking almost (but never quite) smooths over the ham-fisted way he conceives the story.

August 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A plodding and highly questionable history lesson.

August 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With its complete lack of empathy for early Mormons and simplistic rendering of historical figures, September Dawn is that rare movie that actually deserves whatever condemnation might come from religious groups.

August 27, 2007 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Religious and thematic issues aside, September Dawn is well-crafted as a revisionist Western with a message.

August 24, 2007 Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Comments (2)
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The maudlin, grotesque western September Dawn apes Schindler's List in hopes of creatinga Christian Holocaust picture.

August 24, 2007
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Predictable, obvious, often silly.

November 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Entertainment Insiders
Entertainment Insiders

Drama may benefit from attention to history, but history doesn't always make for good drama.

October 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Contriving a faux Romeo and Juliet romance as a point of entry for the audience shows how unimaginative the filmmakers are, and how blandly and uninvolving it plays shows how fairly clueless they are in going about their game plan.

September 5, 2007 Full Review Source:

Muddled, sloppy, and obfuscating.

August 31, 2007 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

For all the guns fired in the film, [director] Cain aims the largest one at his foot-and pulls the trigger again and again.

August 30, 2007 Full Review Source: New York Press
New York Press

An already thin veneer of historical truth wears off fairly quickly in this surprisingly dull and melodramatic low-budget western.

August 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

There was another 9/11 horror. But it happened 150 years ago.

August 29, 2007 Full Review | Comments (8)
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

It's a toss-up as to whether September Dawn is more offensive as history, as allegory or simply as lousy self-important filmmaking.

August 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The director's overreaching attempts at social commentary with hackneyed devices weaken the veracity of the source material and leave the film open to interpretation as propaganda.

August 26, 2007 Full Review Source:

Often gripping and fascinating, it's bound to create waves of controversy.

August 25, 2007 | Comments (2)

An asinine chunk of Mormonsploitation that mixes historical fact with fictional romance and bald-faced anti-Mormon prejudice.

August 24, 2007 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

For all its cinematic weaknesses, I left the theatre weeping. "Now you know how I feel when I see holocaust films," my Jewish husband told me gently as he wiped away my tears.

August 24, 2007 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

What could have been a galvanizing and all-too timely account of religious fanaticism turning violent has instead been reduced to the banal level of an Romeo and Juliet-type love story.

August 24, 2007

While we should always be suspect of history served up with popcorn, this is a story worth telling

August 24, 2007 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | Comment (1)
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Audience Reviews for September Dawn

My wife and I were flipping through internet ready movies looking for a comedy, and boy did we hit the jackpot! I almost considered giving the film 2 stars for its comedic value alone, but I figured I'd better not give it more than it truely deserves. First off, I will say I am a Mormon. This film in no way offended me, it just cracked me up. I seriously laughed out loud when the scene came on showing the wagon train Christians praying and thanking God for the help of the Mormons with smiles on their faces and the sun shining brightly before them, juxstiposed with the evil black dressed nazi-Mormons praying to curse and damn them to hell for "wearing pants"...I can't remember the last time we all sat around in church praying curses on people and damning them to Hell, but I'm sure we do it all the time.
Granted, the Meadows Massacre was a horrible thing. The movie portrayed the history party true, and partly misleading, but don't all "historical dramas"? Every historical drama, whether it's Braveheart or Gladiator all tell half truths and fill in the rest to fit their agenda and make a story work. I have no problem with that, and I'm not even going to argue any facts. But as for a movie itself, it was awful! They easily could have told the story with a more unbiased viewpoint, which would have been just as interesting. Instead, they had to take as many pop shots at Mormons as possible. I love that the prophet suggests that every man should have 3 wives, even though an incredibly small percentage actually had more than one. I love that an apostle can take a man's wife because it was told to him in a vision (and then kill her later for trying to take her kids> WTF?)
The crowing jewl of this disaster movie is when Jon Gries castrates someone and pins their balls to the wall. Five star laughs there. These people were crappy, and most of it was misrepresented and taken out of context, but they were just a radical group. And there is no proof that Brigham Young had anything to do with, and on the contrary proof that he did try and stop it...but let's not let facts muddle up a good story! Instead lets just put in the end that the church denies it like they're hiding it or something. And this whole doctrine they made up about killing people who do wrong is awesome. I love how in my church we can slit people's throats who do something wrong. The atonment of Christ? What's that? Why do what Christ says and forgive people through repentance when we can kill them? Anyone stupid enough to believes this junk deserves to enjoy this film. Well, I'm getting tired of this review, so I won't even go into how horrible the acting and what not was. I do think however that I want to dress up like the blood covered indian brother for Holloween.
P.S. Jon Voight must have shot JFK, because he is a true sniper with that 1800's rifle.
September 4, 2009
Curtis Lilly

Super Reviewer

The film is so clear cut in portraying a black and white scenario, it literally presents the Mormons as like-Nazis, and the wagon train as a pure, innocent, happy-go-lucky bunch. The Mormons who committed the massacre were fanatics, no doubt, but the movie portrays the events in its own fanatical way. Yes, on another September 11, another massacre took place in the name of religion. Now you have to watch the entire massacre take place and every person slaughtered in bloody glory on screen. That's the problem with shallow movies like this. They claim to be sympathetic to and meditative on the cause, but they entertain you with brutal violence.Not to mention the ear-cringing dialogue, cliched scenarios, and god-awful cinematography.At least the modern day tragedy that the film alludes to is evident.
March 30, 2008

Super Reviewer

Not Sure why this movie was made other then to make people very mad. As It made me very mad. But am glad I now know that bit of history. Would I vote for a morman, Not after seeing this film. Mission Accomplised, I think so.
January 20, 2008
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

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