September Dawn Reviews
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.
There is no defense for the men who committed the act for we can never know what it was like for either the victims or the perpetrators of such a heinous crime but to have this atrocity horribly blamed on the Pauite Indians is sad indeed. Jon Voight is darn scary in his role as an overzealous Mormon bishop and Terence Stamp gave a superb performance as well.
I felt repulsed by the movie as I watched it but I'll recommend it for those avid "History Buff" fans.
However, none of that detracts from what is a fairly good movie. Overall you shouldn't shy away from this based solely on its historical accuracy or your personal religious beliefs... it really has nothing to do with them. If it sparks an interest in history or religious studies then that's great and from there you can draw your own personal conclusions.
Finally, after being embarassed by the Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation (Descendents and families of the victims), the LDS is now coming out in the open and admitting culpability in the massacre.
Knowing this, you might want to see the movie and decide for yourself how rotten it is.
My only critique is that the love story was fictional, and in order to shorten the time of the movie, the writers combined three bishops into the one that John Voight so eloquently portrayed. I forgive them for both - since they would never have been able to release this picture if it were purely factual. As it was, the Critics attacked the movie like the wolves devoured the victims - and I might say it appears they did it with the same amount of forethought.
Ron Wright - Family of two of the victims.
Dean Cane, you are quite the bread winner.
Jon Voight plays the Mormons? sheriff, bishop, and lord of all that is righteous. He and his followers are mad because their religion?s leader, Joseph Smith, was killed by an Arkansas mob suspicious of his many-wives-having lifestyle. So when a group of Christian pilgrims, traveling west to California to supply horses for gambling purposes, passes through his rural town, he?s not exactly glad to see them. He has his sons keep an eye on the settlers, who need a place to rest themselves and their horses. Soon Voight?s riled up the townspeople that it?s God?s will that they attack the Christians.
There?s a lot of hellraising and damnation in this movie. Fire-and-brimstone stuff, is what I?m saying. The Mormons in this movie are basically sheep, except for Samuelson?s (Voight) kid Jonathan, who is not in tune with the ways of his father. He likes to think for himself, you see, and it?s not long before he?s caught the eye of the lovely Emily, the daughter of the Christians? pastor. The star-cross?d lovers, obviously, wind up at the heart of the conflict between the two religious parties.
Everyone, though, regardless of the Big Man to whom they pray, is pretty self-righteous. How could they not be, when it?s a story about religious extremism? Well, everyone, of course, except for the star-cross?d lovers. It?s always the youngsters who don?t completely buy in to the value systems of their fathers. (It?s also worth noting that neither Emily?s nor Jonathan?s mother is still alive; both are now being raised by single papas.) Reminds me of Footloose, really, when whatshername?s dad, played by John Lithgow, was all about the righteous anger and was really put out by the antics of the city boy played by Kevin Bacon.
With all this self-righteous behavior comes an even surlier companion: the demonization of Other People. But here it?s the Mormons and the Mormons alone who are intolerant. They presume that these Christians are the ones who killed their sainted Smith. They presume that all Christians are murderers in their hearts, anyway. They dislike the fact that they?re herding horses to be used for the somewhat immoral purpose of gambling. They?re also annoyed that one of the Christians is a single female who wears pants, not a dress, and who carries weapons. Blasphemy! So of course they must all die.
And when I say the Mormons here want to kill their Christian visitors, I mean they want a wholesale slaughter. Women and children, too. Samuelson gets them all frothing at the mouth, then he gets the local Indian tribe to attack the interlopers. When the Christians come to the Mormons for help, they walk into a second, even larger ambush, and hardly anyone?s spared.
Sometimes conflicts like this play out pretty well on the big screen. It?s a timeless theme, after all, that of religious intolerance. But here, what was lacking were compelling side stories and characterizations. Everyone?s pretty one dimensional - either delusional or self-absorbed, perhaps both - and no one gives you much to care about. Enter the somewhat forced romance between Emily and Jonathan. Can it end happily? It?s not likely, given that there?s a wholescale slaughter. They spend half the movie making moon eyes at each other and professing love, but I?ll grant them half a pass on it, since we?re talking about the ancient 19th century, and they couldn?t help but be chaste, anyway. But just half a pass, because they bored me.
The one character who could have sparked some interest is barely in the movie - she?s played by Lolita Davidovich - for unknown reasons. I suspect she was in the movie only to give the Mormons something else to whine about. ?Why, tarnation! The woman?s in pants! String her up!? Davidovich was fantastic in the five minutes or so she was on screen. Imagine how much better the movie would have been if her Nancy Dunlap had been the one to fall for a Mormon boy/man?
If you can stick it out to the end, the carnage isn?t for weak stomachs. It?s not so much an overabundance of blood that?ll get you, it?s the sick, exploitative nature of the beast. Women are shot from behind. Kids are stabbed. The extremely vulnerable are hunted down like chipmunks. It?s a little gut wrenching, to say the least, and it makes one wonder what the overall point was supposed to be. That Mormons are bad and Christians are good? That something evil took place on those Utah plains? The banality of evil? I dunno.
Although ,the movie did (somewhat) misrepresent the modern Mormon church's take on the events, I have no problem with a movie calling out a religion for it's atrocities regardless of whether or not it's politically correct.