One may as well ask what happened to the Mormon musical after
"Saturday's Warrior" and "My Turn On Earth"--each one in
turn became a cliched caricature of the last one until total absurdity ensued.
The Best Two Years was the best and worst thing that happened to Mormon movies
because its the best one and therefore any movie that has come after it has been
compared and lost.
Ummm... there were a few more than that. So you can't take all the blame. I
have wondered if the movement centered around a few good actors or directors,
and when they moved on, so did the rest of us. I miss those good old days.
It DOES have to do with the quality of the script. You can't just have a
few people show up and start doing pratfalls and tripping around and expect
people to go for it. Home Teachers was really lame. I didn't like
"God's Army" much either. It tries too hard to be thoughtful
without any real weight and the actors all look like 30-somethings. It
didn't remind me of my mission at all or anyone else's for that
matter. Best Two Years did. A total family favorite.I'd like to
see the kids that do Studio C try a full-length movie...
Not LDS but I liked both singles ward movies, home teachers was very funny.
Mobsters and Mormons was funny. I even found the Best Two Years to be
interesting. Wonderful lesson about personal growth. While I liked One Good Man
I had no idea what the problem was. One daughter needed a cell phone with a
timer to get home on time. He had to lay off a member if his ward. Makes me
wonder about the wisdom of non paid clergy. I did like dad sat out the wedding.
Mom should have too. But I was glad dad did. The RM was super fun. Midway to
Heaven was lost on me. I am still waiting for the family ward movie. I actually
thought maybe mormon movies slowed down in production because a few of the stars
left the church. What would be nice is to see some tv series that feature LDS
families and not just cramming everything you can into two hours. Mormon mommy
blogs are well viewed. There is a market to see the day to day stuff.
I found it interesting that no mention was made of The Saratov Approach which
swept the Utah film festival with 8 awards, has reportedly broken all previous
box-office records for Mormon-themed movies and DVD sales, and has been
well-received by traditional audiences around the country and is now on a global
premier schedule in major cities in Europe and Asia. The success of The Saratov
Approach stemmed from its close adherence to historical fact, a compelling tale
with a happy AND true ending and the Director's ability to weave a
compelling story that tugged at the audiences' heartstrings. As one person
said after leaving the movies, for two hours, everyone in that theater felt like
they were the parents of a Mormon missionary. I think the film's
performance is proof that the demand will be there if it is well done from both
a story and a cinematographic perspective.
Also, The Other Side of. Heaven, which was made by a major motion picture
studio, Disney. It did fairly well and was well done.It can be hard to
define what is a Mormon Movie exactly? Is Napolean Dynamite? It starred and was
written and directed by Mormons, although the characters had no known religion
expressed.Saratov was good. Also 17 miracles and Ephraim's Rescue.
And Saints and Soldiers.I would like to see a quality made version of the
Book of Mormon, not the cheesy one made years ago.The reason we
don't usually see high quality is that it can cost a lot, and the thought
is the market is too small to recoup the investment.The films could
appeal to a mass market if not just inside Mormonisms that others don't
understand, like the jokes in many of the movies like the Singles Ward. Most
non-Mormons just don't get it. Have a good story told with well developed
characters.A well made movie of many Book of Mormon stories could be
well received if done right. The ideals of Captain Moroni are very similar to
American ideals of freedom.
I see LOTS of movies. Good movies have great scripts,
strong/confident directors, and solid/capable actors. If you miss one of these,
a movie is generally no good. Most LDS movies lack AT LEAST one of these.
Sometimes one category can be missing and you still have a relatively popular
movie. I think "Singles Ward" is in this category. This was in no way a
perfect film, but the jokes were relatable to the audience and we all laughed
and had fun--its uniqueness was its main selling point. "The
Best Two Years", the FIRST "Saints and Soldiers", and "The
Saratov Approach" are the best of the LDS film crop....by a large margin.
The reason LDS films miss the boat in the three categories listed above is
because of the difficulty getting funding. I have a good friend who
is an LDS filmmaker and securing funding for his project is getting in the way
of producing his film (an excellent script/story and an equally excellent
director are ready). But wealthy LDS investors are leery because of other poor
LDS productions like (sorry) "The Home Teachers" and "Church
Ball". Sadly, good material pays the price.
There are plenty of wholesome, entertaining stories in the Mormon culture left
to be told, you just have to take a chance on the writers. I'd love to
volunteer my writing talents. Read my blog about trying to stay positive as an
LDS single and call me.
You are all missing the boat on the best LDS movie ever made, even one most
traditional critics admired. That is Brigham City. It is a well done
masterpiece of LDS culture. If you want to get a true glimpse into Mormon
culture, both its good and bad, this is the film. It is also a well done
thriller with some really good plot twists. You will be surprised by the
quality of script and movie, though made on a shoe-string budget. Those who are
LDS will appreciate this fine film. Those who aren't LDS will enjoy a look
into real LDS smaller town culture but the storyline alone is a good one. The
very ending scene after the mystery is unraveled will bring any religious person
1. One Good Man. Errand of Angels. The Letter Writer. Silent Night. All
pretty good LDS Films, or LDS made. 2. Very poor scripts and no
development.3. Film makers who think because they know how to turn
on a camera, they can create a film. 4. Producers who think they
are really something, but have little talent when put up against the films of
the world. It is not easy to create or produce a film. Many think they can,
and many just want to earn a few bucks. Some even do it at the expense of the
great film crews that are in Utah.5. A very short-sighted film
commissioner in Utah. Does very little to draw great productions to Utah, which
would inspire greater LDS work.6. TC Christensen, Christian Vuissa,
Garrett Batty, doing some of the best work.7. Church itself? Too
much little clip work, too much narration. No films that really address what
families and individuals are going through.8. New Testament film
clips in Goshen are nice, but look what others have done recently with telling
the entire story of Christ. We, in the church, have still not done this.
All of these movies had their different purposes - humor, suspense, teaching,
etc. If the outcome is what the purpose is, then it was a success.
Like Kora who commented earlier, I would love to see a quality production series
of the BofM.
For Mormon comedy, my hands-down favorite is Baptists at our Barbecue. Other
movies I've enjoyed are Saints & Soldiers, Saratov Approach, Brigham
City, Suits on the Loose, The Best Two Years, Mobsters and Mormons, 17 Miracles,
Ephraim's Rescue... And yes, I like Saturday's Warrior, sometimes you
have to look past a movie's warts and blemishes to the message. Of course
there have been some that have been so poorly done it is almost impossible to
get anything positive out of them. But I think those are the exception.One movie I would LOVE to see done is "A Distant Prayer", about an LDS
member of a bomber crew that gets shot down over Germany and is captured. If you
aren't familiar with it, get the audio book. It is a fantastic true story
of survivals and miracles, that would be a wonderful film and could appeal to a
@Howard Beal"You are all missing the boat on the best LDS movie ever
made... That is Brigham City."-------I also thought
Brigham City was excellent. Richard Dutcher made it and also God's Army.
But the rest of his films were downhill. Now with Richard having left the LDS
Church, I fear his talents in LDS film-making might be long gone for good. @eastcoastcoug"I didn't like "God's Army"
much either... It didn't remind me of my mission at all"--------Gods Army wasn't perfect, but it related to my mission
quite well. Missionaries playing somewhat cruel jokes on each other; a
missionary who loses his testimony due to anti-Mormon material; a Catholic
father who is hesitant to let his wife and daughter join the Church because
"we're Catholic!" (I served in a heavy Catholic country and saw
that frequently!); a "stuck up" Sister missionary; missionaries
joking/speculating about who is being transferred next. Even when the
missionaries sing "We Are All Enlisted" - good grief we sang that hymn
way too many times on my mission! I related to God's Army very well.
Probably to appeal to a broader audience, Ryan Little's Forever Strong did
an outstanding job of portraying the story of Coach Larry Gelwix and his
Highland High Rugby Team leaving out any filming and mention of Mormonism and
Mormons. Anyone who missed this film missed a very good movie. Saints and
Soldiers (both films ) are also works of Ryan Little.
No Academy Award nominations?
Thus far the Brethren have chosen to steer clear of any full length commercial
motion picture. Portrayal of events from Church history, from the Book of
Mormon, and from the Bible for teaching those not of our faith is a very risky
venture; far too subjective to be undertaken with Church funding. You just
can't appeal to the viewing tastes of lots of people(even those of us who
are members) so there is very little to be accomplished in attempting to do so.
One of my favorite movies, not just LDS movie, was The BestTwo Years! I pull
it out every year! Awesome!
I've yet to see God's Army, and I'm interested in doing so.Other "Mormon movies", however, really just aren't of
interest to me. I really disliked RM, and as someone who's been attending
singles' wards for far too long, I certainly don't want to watch a
movie about one. I'd never even heard of the home teacher film.My ideal "Mormon movie" would probably be film adaptions of Chris
Stewart's "The Great and Terrible" series. It's legitimately
interesting -without- anything Church related, but the theology behind it is
what really frames and flavors the entire story in a way unlike anything
I've ever seen before.
I have enjoyed most of the LDS films that have come out over the years because
my expectations where not academy award level but just wanting something clean,
and relatable because I am LDS. I think what the filmmakers need to decide is do
they want to appeal to a mainly LDS audience about an LDS topic/culture or about
a overall topic maybe from an LDS perspective. There is a church here in GA
that has done some excellent films that have done well and I have seen
advertised and sold in Utah bookstores including Deseret Books. "Facing the
Giants" (Faith), "Fireproof" (effects of pornography of families and
"Courageous" (importance of fathers).
@ RikitikitaviI agree. I'd hate to see the Book of Mormon be
reduced to entertainment. I think it would loose credibility some how. Mel
Gibson's Appocalypto was an interesting take on what might be considered
ancient Lamanite "culture", but without any religious content that would
be recognizable as "Book of Mormon" specific history.I think
the church should stick to what it does best - Mormon messages. Look at what
happened with the "Because of Him" campaign over Easter. Money very
well spent. Not to mention "Legacy", "The Testaments" and
"Joseph Smith" in the Joseph Smith Building Theater. I'm patiently
waiting for a new one of those.
What happened to the wave of Mormon movies? It's still there, just not as
big as it was in the early 2000's and that's probably a good thing
because there was an awful lot of garbage being produced during that time, most
of which had no business even being in theaters. If you're
curious you can go to ldsfilm.com and see what those Mormon Hollywood wannabes
have been up to. There's even an LDS film festival that happens every year
3 MoviesBrigham City - the sacrament meeting scene at the end extremely
powerful!One Good Man - Incredible protrayal of the feelings of a bishop,
and family member while serving as a bishop.Mobsters and Mormons - A
little goofy, but the underlying story of the 1st ccounselor acting as, and
becoming, the bishop was sincere and moving.Sorry, but didn't
care for Home Teachers
I would also say that Saints and Soldiers is a very good movie. I wouldn't
put it quite in the quality of Brigham City but it was very noteworthy.
Good comments have been previously made, and I echo many of them. I think my
vote goes to movies that are well written, well acted, and well directed, but
with a minimum mention of church-related things. Movies that are heavily
Mormon-related may have appeal to some(many?) in the church but probably
won't have a lot of appeal outside the church. To have success outside of
the Mormon culture, movies need a lot of violence and sex. Its too bad, but that
seems to be the way life is.I look to the success, or failure, of
books as parallels to movies. I've read a lot of LDS books that have good
stories and good characters but little mention of the church. I would like to
see that in movies.
One movie I've seen several times on KBYU is about a cyclist who is having
marital problems because of his devotion to cycling. He coaches an upcoming
cyclist who has a great relationship with his family. A comparison of the two
gives great lessons about balance in ones life. No mention of religion. Just two
men who sought world-class titles in cycling and who had to adjust their
interests and devotion to achieve marital happiness. I don't remember the
name of the film or the names of the actors, but I watch it every chance I have.
The setting of the film was Virginia, and I don't think it was produced by
Mormons. To me, it is an outstanding movie.Movies will be popular, I
think, if they focus on ordinary people and help us solve problems in our own
lives. Movies that focus on organizations, such as the Mormon Church, will have
little appeal to persons not part of that organization.
Well, I remember Pres. Benson encouraging members to make movies about the Book
of Mormon. I don't think this has really happened the way he envisioned
it. I would like to see more, but done in a realistic way. Frankly, I think
most of the humorous LDS movies are "B" movies. I would prefer to see
more inspirational LDS movies. But I think for them to work the acting has to
be high quality.
@GANANA"Fireproof" (effects of pornography of families and
"Courageous" (importance of fathers).------I really
like "Fireproof". I strongly recommend "Fireproof" for any
Christian married couple who is having marital problems, especially if
pornography is related. It is not LDS-based, but is for Christians that all can
learn from (LDS also). Even if you don't have marital problems or you
don't have pornography problems, it is useful for improving your
marriage.I think the best LDS films recently are drawing on serious
real-life situations, such as "Saratov Approach" (please see that one if
you haven't!) and "Ephraim's Rescue". It seems the LDS comedy
films are becoming a thing of the past. Maybe a good comedy can come along and
spark a recovery, but I doubt it.
A few more mission experiences from God's Army that I relate to with
similar experiences on my mission:-Trying to teach a discussion with
crying kids and a husband/wife who are not doing well in their marriage-Being confronted by prostitutes-Being confronted by blacks about
the ban on the Priesthood-In the movie where the Spanish women
answers the door and speaks Spanish rather than English hoping to get the
missionaries to go away - on my mission people would constantly speak in a
dialect that we weren't familiar with to get us to go away.-"Pops" (played by Richard Dutcher) - an older missionary (I knew a
few Elders on my mission that were in the mid to late 20s)-Performing a baptism in the ocean-The father that was Catholic
says "I feel nothing!" when asked if he felt the Spirit-And,
the missionaries finally getting a "breakthrough" and getting the
Catholic father to kneel down and pray during a discussion
Singles ward had a fantastic sound track. Sarato Approach I give 3 + stars out
For wildly popular, STO, and a huge financial success, go see the musical
"Book of Mormon". Unbelievably talented cast, hilarious message....That being said, I only saw it to see what all the hoopla was about. I
was offended by the nitwit South Park crass vulgarisms, but anyone with ethics
is offended. They always push the envelope to juvenille and inappropriate.Pay some writers enough and get a cast that talented, and you can own
And what about "The RM," which was the best of the comedies?
The Work and the Glory movies were good.
@ Allen,”movies need a lot of violence”.The death of JS I
remember what Joseph said, a short time before he was slain in one of the last
sermons I ever heard him preach. Said he, “Men are here today who are
seeking my blood, and they are those who have held the Priesthood and have
received their washings and anointings; men who have received their
endowments.” I saw the faces of those men at that time, and they had a
hand in slaying the Prophet (JoD v 4 p 149). Wilford Woodruff, December 21,
1856.Whether Mormons killed JS or not is unimportant many important
Mormons wanted to by taking an oath to kill him. (The Oath upon request) . .
Francis M Higbee was at a meeting of dissenters on April 28, 1844. Brigham
Young comments on it.… when you feel like killing me for so doing, as some
of the people did who called themselves brethren in the days of Joseph Smith,
look out for yourselves, for false brethren were the cause of Joseph's
death, and I am not a very righteous man.(JoD v 3 49.)
When is a Train To Potevka going to become a movie? An incredible true story
about brother Ramsdells escape from the Russian KGB. A must read. Would make a
I have watched most of the "Mormon" movies that have come out. I really
enjoyed Richard Dutcher's touch, it was more of the raw flavor that I
appreciate and was very saddened by his leaving his faith and it will ruin his
film making in my opinion. We need our film artists to keep to their faith. We
have many stories to tell and film makers need to take their lead from their
painter colleagues. Minerva Tiechart was told by her Professor to paint her
faith which she did in such a unique, colorful way. I am waiting patiently for
some awesome masterpieces to come along.A non-LDS person took the
time to piece 59 of the Bible Videos that the church has done into one
chronological piece (The Life of Christ-- full version) and the effect is
awesome. Nearly 3-hours long, it is the best "full length" movie on the
life of Christ yet. He made a gift of it back to the church.By the
way, the church never will produce "full-length" films for consumption
by the entertainment industry-- that is our job. Their job is to teach and
expound doctrine and to keep it pure.
I love "Baptists at Our Barbeque" too! One book that would make a
great movie would be "Fireweed", a story about an LDS family in Germany
before and during WWII.
"If they build it, they will come" as said in a movie from the past
about baseball, I think the same thing happens with LDS movie artists. If they
make them, we will come (to see them, buy their videos.)
The Book of Mormon produced, directed, and acted as was the Lord of the Rings
series would indeed be impressive.I myself have enjoyed the Mormon
musical movies, including Sons of Provo, a spoof on boy bands intermingled with
Mormon and BYU culture.I would like to see Saturday's Warrior
adapted to the big screen other than the stage production film shown on KBYU now
and then.And for decades, I've enjoyed the story told through
the music of the Osmonds' The Plan. The Plan was an excellent telling of
the gospel plan through music and would make an incredible movie and tribute to
the talent and inspiration of the Osmond brothers. Too bad it came long before
the music video and the LDS film culture..
Our family has all of the movies made by Halestorm, and we LOVE them!! All of
the movies are well done and TRUE to our culture!!!
Let's face it; the target bulk of the audience for these movies don't
have much interest in or an appreciation for film outside very narrow
parameters. I'm a wannabe film buff, as time allows, but I only know of a
couple of LDS friends I can even have what I would consider an intelligent
conversation about film. It's not that they're themselves
unintelligent; they just don't care that much about it. It's simply
entertainment, nothing more.Most Mormons require their movies to be
almost aggressively wholesome . . the "polite, remedial and not-so-factual
recitations of Mormon History and scripture." Any conflict or disturbing
happenings on display have to remain within "LDS standards" (whether
plausible or not) be resolved somewhat simply, with an LDS-friendly resolution.
A lot of Mormons miss out on some of the most affecting movies ever made because
of their addiction to a notion of superficial, simplistic personal purity.Richard Dutcher might have lost credibility with LDS crowds, but one
line from his parting letter rings true: "It is better to tell an R-rated
truth than a G-rated lie"
Church Ball was pretty bad.
Just like movies by certain directors get extra credit with critics and the
Academy, with LDS audiences, a movie gets extra credit if it's
"clean." It doesn't have to be "good" the way a film critic
or student might evaluate it; as long as it won't offend the Relief Society
President, it's OK. Aim for "innocuous," and occasionally you might
actually find a good movie, but you'll miss out on a lot of others.A Stake Pres from my past actually got up in Stake Conference and told
everyone in solemn tones that there is no such thing as a movie that's
appropriate for adults but not for kids. If your kids shouldn't watch it,
neither should you. I felt like booing, but that's just a slightly
exaggerated version of the "good LDS" person's attitude towards
movies. Shame, really. I've watched a ton of movies . . some with really
bad language and extreme violence . . with my 17-year-old priest son. For all
the corrupting this has done, he's never been in a fight, and I've
never heard him swear once in his entire life.
Um, I think you give yourself way too much credit.
"Sons of Provo" was by far the funniest of the LDS themed comedies.
When Mormon movies first appeared, I hoped for good things. We supported them
because we thought it was good to support a fledgling industry. (Richard
Dutcher is a remarkably talented individual. I hope he returns.)
Unfortunately, cheap suits jumped on the band-wagon. Quality went out the
window as the writers and producers looked for the quick buck and cheap laugh.
We held on, hoping for better. Then "Down and Derby" was
released. I couldn't make it through half of it. Brain death was eminent
by the time we found the remote.Those half-baked,
spiritually-bankrupt money-grabs ruined a good beginning. No doubt the movement
will recover. But it will take time.
What about the Church History films taken from Gerald N. Lund's books? I
thought they were very good and Larry H. Miller did the funding. I liked both
the books and the films.I would love the see The Undaunted made into a
movie. The book is very powerful and the scenery down in that area would be
breath-taking on the wide screen.Any of Lund's books could be adapted
to a script and he has done an excellent job of character building which would
translate into actors that would grab our heart strings.
The author has a very limited memory of the Mormon themed movies that have come
out. Many of the other comments have filled in the blanks but one I have not
seen mentioned is my very favorite and the best of the bunch: The Other Side of
Hated "Brigham City". So far fetched! No one has mentioned
"Charly," it's the only one I've watched more than twice and
cried every time. Loved "Saratov Approach". There is definitely a
market for well-made LDS films that make you feel something and think, not
slapstick cheap humor or unrealistic drama about a serial killer elders quorum
Like any movie, a "Mormon movie" needs to be well-done, believable and
entertaining if it is to succeed in the marketplace, and it can't be
preachy or a Sunday school lesson with background music. It also needs to
present its characters in three-dimensions with all their failings and
shortcomings if it is to be seen as more than church propaganda. There are
plenty of people and events in LDS history that could make successful films if
done properly. My wife and I went to see Ephraim's Rescue when
it came out, and found it well-made and engaging. While it didn't make me
want to convert, it did help me understand and appreciate the travails of those
pioneers who came here with handcarts, and it doubtless helped to strengthen the
testimony of Mormons whose ancestors were in that group.
As many have said, the problem has been the number of bad movies. After
God's Army (which I personally didn't think was that good) and Singles
Ward, we had a whole string of just outright poor films. Anybody trying to be
supportive of the LDS film industry soon got burned out of trying to support bad
movies. Many of us have just grown very skeptical of the possibility of an
LDS-made or -themed movie being any good.I hate to say all of this,
because several of the LDS filmmakers are people that I know and have worked
with. But we can't let a relationship or the fact that a producer or
filmmaker is LDS get in the way of being critical of poorly done material.There are exceptions... The Best Two Years is very well done, as is The
Other Side of Heaven -- both are great stories told really well. The Saratov
Approach may be good, but I haven't seen it just because I've become
so skittish about spending money on LDS-themed films.
Of the "Mormon trilogy," I thought Home Teachers was the best. There
were a few over the top moments, but man it was awesome. I really hate that it
flopped. It really showed an extreme view of what being a Mormon is REALLY like.
"I thought you were bringing me another casserole.." Yeah, I'd so
that and I'm a grown man!
I have always liked the movie: "The Other Side of Heaven," which starred
Anne Hathaway. I is a great story about missionary work. I feel confident that
more good movies will come out in the future as the Church moves out of
obscurity. The series of movies the Church put out last year on the Bible will
be classics if you care about the Bible at all.