September Dawn - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

September Dawn Reviews

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Super Reviewer
August 25, 2007
Very black and white views on where the truth really lies. Yes, it was a shameful act in history that people ought to know about, but who's to say FOR SURE what really happened then. People need to know the CORRECT AND KNOWN facts and then make up their own mind from there. However, there was one great line in one of the special features that sums up what I believe... God save us from men doing God's work. AMEN!!!
Super Reviewer
½ March 10, 2008
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.
Super Reviewer
½ March 16, 2008
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.
Super Reviewer
January 5, 2008
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.
Super Reviewer
½ July 26, 2011
September Dawn takes a horrific true story that could easily make for compelling drama and botches it near completely. The acting is mostly bad and always amateurish (save Terence Stamp), even Jon Voight was over-the-top. The script was terrible, with profoundly silly dialogue and a ridiculous love story. The whole film is filled with forced melodrama edited together in a distractingly choppy manner. Maybe a competent director will see fit to treat the material in a better manner in the future.
Super Reviewer
April 2, 2010
The dramatization of the events surrounding the Mountain Meadows Massacre of the ill-fated wagon train pulls no punches nor waters down the horror of the events that occurred on that other September 11th (of 1857). My only hope is that the film portrayed what happened as accurately as possible and does not provoke the very anger and fear and paranoia it seems to be aiming to depict, on both sides of the fence.
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.
½ December 11, 2008
A lot could be said about this movie's plot. It is based on history but its a history that is very light on facts. It does come across as a little anti-mormon but it should be pointed out that the mormon church of today and the mormon church of 1857 are no more the same than the Catholic church of the Inquisition and the Catholic church today. I don't think it is out of the question to say that this movie's arrival coinciding with rumblings of Mitt Romney's political aspirations was intentional on the part of the film makers.

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.
April 25, 2012
I thought this to be a pretty funny movie and Jon Voight's overacting had me laughing out loud..don't take the movie too serious and you will have a great time..
January 3, 2012
While the actresses didn't do an amazing job, the actors did, the script is so-so, however it is a very important event I feel that people need to know about and has not really ever been spoken of. I didn't even know this ever happened. Because of how violent it was, I don't think I'll ever see it again, but it definitely was worth the watch.
½ November 1, 2011
This is Little House on the Praire vs Mormons. I think I'd rather keep watching reruns of Laura Ingalls fighting with Nellie Olson instead. An entertaining film but disturbing. I don't actually believe the Christians were that gullible and nor do I believe the Mormons had such a violent doctrine. There are extremists in every religious facet, even Christianity. Do your own research and your own conclusions. After all, this was part of history I never had heard of.
November 21, 2010
This is the very definition of a mediocre film‚"it‚(TM)s a mix of solid performances (e.g., Jon Voigt, who seems to have cornered the market on cold, unflinching, ruthless elder statesmen/scary old white dude roles), interesting depictions of little-known historical events (like the Mountain Meadows massacre perpetrated by the Mormons), a misguided Romeo-and-Juliet style star-crossed lovers subplot (Mormon scion falls passionately in love with a young gentile woman‚"in the space of a week), and some of the lousiest writing ever to be foisted upon professional actors. I do credit the film for treating one of the most appalling events in the history of any religion with an appropriate mix of horror and detachment and for making a genuine effort to provide a dramatic context for the senseless slaughter of innocent pioneers at the hands of maniacal Mormon Church elders (Brigham Young among them). Other parts of the film just make very little sense, dramatically or historically‚"why waste 20 minutes of screen time depicting the Mormon scion‚(TM)s uncanny ability to ‚break‚? an ornery stallion? Why cast Dean Cain (yes, the Superman of ‚Lois and Clark‚?) as Joseph Smith? (He‚(TM)s on screen very briefly but long enough to make you scoff at the awful casting choice.) So ultimately this film is a very mixed bag‚"recommended only for those who have a genuine curiosity about Mormon history.
January 15, 2010
People need to remember that this is NOT a documentary. They weren't trying to give you a history lesson, but tell a story in a specific time and place, while poignantly reminding us of how history repeats itself. One morning in September, enemies of the United States under the pretense of religious "freedom" attacked her citizens in cold blood. A heart-wrenching story with broad implications on how our society looks at tragedy, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.
½ December 29, 2009
this film is very flawed and plays like a tv movie. it has bad acting and badly staged gunfight scenes, some very on the nose dialogue and cheesy personal conflicts. but a lot of the critical panning i've read on the film is just ludicrous to me. first of all, they say the film is bloody as hell. not so. i'm shocked this was rated r. yeah, they kill women and children, which is daunting, but it is not graphic. at all. the critics say the movie overemphasizes the fact that the events occurred on september 11. maybe the advertising did, but in the actual movie there is one damn title card just before the actual massacre plays out and that's it! and, get this, equal emphasis is given to other dates! also, in what way are the settlers idealized and the mormons demonized? maybe because i'm not religious i see all of them as wackos, but there was not much difference between the two sides to me. the settler asks his pastor what should they do when running out of supplies and the pastor leads a group incantation of the funeral psalm. yeah, cause that's inspiring and not incredibly morbid. and the mormons explain themselves over and over and over again, in logic that convinced christians to kill other christians many many times for centuries. clearly the writers put in the effort to humanize the mormon side, even if they were not critical of the settler's side. true, the film would probably have made its point better if both sides were seen as devilish or you saw some real trouble from voight's character, or maybe even if they went south park on it and made it a dark comedy, but the notion these critics put out that there is some cartoonish, infantile dramatic caricature going on here is ridiculous. i really feel the critical reviews for this movie in particular were motivated by an estimation of public opinion and not an objective assessment of the movie itself.
½ August 25, 2007
So it's interesting what this movie does (interesting like a train wreck). The idea was to take 9/11 and say, hey, terrible things have been done (allegedly) in the name of religious extremism before, and in September too -- isn't that interesting? That was the idea. What they ended up doing was defaming a religion and fomenting hatred and intolerance of it, leaving us with the message that only vanilla Protestantism can be the One True Faith. Good Lord! That's so much better than what the people you're trying to vilify (allegedly) did!
½ October 11, 2009
Other than the reviews by people who certainly seemed to leap at attacking the very true story it was based on, if one would read some of the history of the Mountain Meadows Massacre by Will Bagley, Jaunita Brooks, and others, one would probably come back and watch the movie with renewed interest. Christopher Cain, John Voight and the many actors who participated became further knowledgable about the lives and the tragedy that happened to 121 very innocent persons, and the 17 children who were orphaned at the massacre. I was able to meet with them at the screening, and was astonished at how much they knew about the victims and the event; and they were emotional in their telling of the story. The brutality of the Mormon militia, including the atrocity of leaving the bodies in an open field to rot and be eaten by wolves, makes one realize just why the LDS church has covered this up for over 150 years.

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.
March 10, 2009
This was one lame movie. Bad acting, bad storytelling, bad scenes, just overall a very poor film. The only good thing that came out of it was a look into the ridiculousness of the Mormon "religion" and doctrine. Unfortunately for me this movie's one good point was something I've already been aware of for years...
Dean Cane, you are quite the bread winner.
December 15, 2008
The story was fantastic, the love story was beautiful, and the acting was great. Unfortunatley for this film the potential was great, but the execution was poor. It was very dry and dragged on it some parts and I'm not sure how closely it actually followed the historical events. Decent film.
½ November 25, 2008
Based (loosely?) on a true story of a 19th-century clash between Mormons and Christians in Utah, September Dawn is graphically violent, daring you to find something of value within the bloodletting. In the end, you don?t care much about the renegade Mormons who attack the Christians, and you don?t care much about the too-pure-for words Christians, either. Against this backdrop is the requisite made-up romance between young folks from either tribe, which here feels more than a little artificial and contrived.

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.
½ September 24, 2008
Decent movie. The dialogue was a bit stilted and many parts were predictable, but I liked it all in all.

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.
½ September 11, 2008
excellant movie seeing theres so much we dont know about all history/religion things they keep out of headlines
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