On Oct. 27, 1838, Missouri Gov. Lilburn W. Boggs issued Executive Order 44, otherwise known as the “Extermination Order,” in which he wrote, “The Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the state, if necessary for the public good.”
Three days later, roughly 240 men approached Haun’s Mill, a Mormon settlement, in response to the governor’s order.
In the new movie “16 Stones” from Candlelight Media, one young man witnesses the beginnings of the Missouri conflicts and decides there is only one way to prevent further persecution of the Saints and to prove that the Book of Mormon is true. He and his two friends will find the 16 stones touched by the pre-mortal Jesus Christ as recounted in the Book of Ether.
“With every setback comes a blessing and a building of their faith — if the characters are willing to see it,” said writer Brittany Wiscombe in a press release for the film.
The idea for “16 Stones” came to director Brian Brough as he pondered the story of the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon.
“In reading in the Book of Mormon, (I) always wondered what happened to the 16 Jaredite stones,” Brough said in an interview with the Deseret News. “We know that they came with the Brother of Jared and their families, but once they get here you never hear about them again, so I always thought, ‘You know, it’d be kind of cool just to speculate what happened to the stones and where would they be today.’”
While Brough’s original idea for the story had a modern-day adventurer seeking the stones, similar to a “National Treasure” storyline, he and his sister decided that setting the story in the 1830s would be a better fit.
“We went through lots and lots of drafts and story ideas and then finally I had the idea of, 'What if we put it in the time of the Saints?'” Brough said. “It felt like it fit a lot more the spiritual message we wanted to convey, dealing with the issues of faith and it seemed more fitting in a time period set in 1838 in Far West a few months before the Haun’s Mill Massacre and where the mob activity is getting worse and worse.”
And although the movie focuses on the faith and trials of the characters, it is far from a “preachy” movie, according to Brough.
“There’s two main things about the film: First of all, I want people to have a fun time and enjoy the film, so we made sure it was an adventure film — it’s not just people sitting and talking the whole movie,” Brough said. “Instead, there is a lot of adventure that goes on, so it’s a fun and exciting ride. But at the same time we wanted to make sure we had a message, that it was inspiring and that it had a faithful feel to it.”
“16 Stones” opens Oct. 1 in theaters across Utah. To find out more about the film, visit 16stonesmovie.com or facebook.com/16stones. Representatives for the film will also be at the LDS Missionary Expo at Utah Valley University Oct. 1-3 with free promotional materials.
Ben Tullis is a Deseret News intern and a freelance writer. He graduated from Utah Valley University in August 2014 with a bachelor's degree in English. He lives in Pleasant Grove with his wife and 3-year-old son. Follow him on Twitter @bentullis.