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  1. #1

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    Thumbs down "September Dawn" movie review

    I went and saw this movie, so you don't have to. Understand when I say, honestly, this is the worst movie to come out of Hollywood in a great while. While the Mountain Meadows massacre is a tragic episode in history, this film tries to make it something else. The Mormons in the film are portrayed as mindless religions fanatics, with no apologies whatsoever. Sacred Mormon temple rites are portrayed in graphic detail, with no respect or sensitivity. The acting is atrocious, as are the screenplay and directing. It almost seemed the writer/director visited the first anti-Mormon site he found in Google, and copied what he found there literally word for word into his script. This makes up about 1/4 of the movie. What happens in the other 3/4? 1/4 is spent on a character taming a horse that was deemed unbreakable. Another 1/4 is spent on a romance between the daughter of the immigrant's priest and the son of the Mormon bishop (played by John Voigt, who phones in an absolutely ludicrous and completely unbelievably bad performance). The other 1/4 is the actual massacre itself, which is nothing more than shaky hand-held camera work with blood squibs going off everywhere. Terrence Stamp plays Brigham Young, but his performance was equally inane. Think General Zod as an Amish farmer. So, while this film might generate some small amount of controversy, with the September 11 date and all, rest asured the film is a complete waste of time. Don't even bother. Roger Ebert gave the movie zero stars, which is the film completely deserves.


  2. #2

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    Re: "September Dawn" movie review

    I for one CAN NOT WAIT to see this movie. I was Mormon for 12 years and want to see a portrayal of the slaughter that the Latter-Day Saints fail to recognize as truly happening. I will give my review with an Ex-Mormon point of view as soon as I get a chance to go.
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  3. #3

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    Re: "September Dawn" movie review

    Here are some reviews for this movie:

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Ebert
    Grisly story of 1857 massacre is unbelievably ugly and an insult to Mormons

    On Sept. 11, 1857, at the Mountain Meadows Massacre, a group of fanatic Mormons attacked and slaughtered a wagon train of about 120 settlers passing through Utah on their way to California. Can we all agree that the date has no significance? No, we cannot, because September Dawn is at pains to point out that on another Sept. 11, another massacre took place, again spawned by religion.

    But hold on. Where did I get that word “fanatic”? In my opinion, when people believe their religion gives them the right to kill other people, they are fanatics. Aren’t there enough secular reasons for war? But there is no shortage of such religions, or such people.

    The vast majority of the members of all religions, I believe and would argue, don’t want to kill anybody.

    It is a deviant streak in some humans, I suspect, that drives them toward self-righteous violence and uses religion as a convenient alibi.

    Which brings us back to Sept. 11, 1857, when a crazy Mormon zealot named Bishop Jacob Samuelson (Jon Voight) ordered the massacre of the visiting wagon train after first sending his spokesman, John D. Lee (Jon Gries), to lie that if they disarmed, they would be granted safe passage. Whether the leader of his church, Brigham Young (Terence Stamp), approved of this action is a matter of much controversy, denied by the church, but claimed by September Dawn.

    What a strange, confused, unpleasant movie this is. Two theories have clustered around it: (1) It is anti-Mormon propaganda in order to muddy the waters around the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, a Mormon, or (2) it is not about Mormons at all, but an allegory about the 9/11/01 terrorists. Take your choice. The problem with allegories is that you can plug them in anywhere. No doubt the film would have great impact in Darfur.

    My opinion is that there isn’t anything to be gained in telling this story in this way. It generates bad feelings on all sides, and at a time when Mormons are at pains to explain that they are Christians, it underlines the way that these Mormons consider all Christians to be “gentiles.” The Mormons are presented in no better light than Nazis and Japanese were in Hollywood’s World War II films. Wasn’t there a more thoughtful and insightful way to consider this historical event? Or how about a different event altogether? What about the Donner Party? They may have been cannibals, but at least they were nondenominational.

    If there is a concealed blessing, it is that the film is so bad. Jon Voight, that gifted and versatile actor, is here given the most ludicrous and unplayable role of his career, and a goofy beard to go along with it. Terence Stamp, as Brigham Young, comes across as the kind of man you would find at the back of a cave in a Cormac McCarthy novel. The Christians are so scrubbed and sunny they could have been teleported in time from the Lawrence Welk program.

    And isn’t it sickening that the plot stirs in some sugar by giving us what can only be described as a horse whisperer? This movie needs human whisperers. And giving us a romance between the bishop’s son and a pretty gentile girl? And another son of the bishop who dresses up like an Indian and goes batty at the scent of blood? And real Native Americans who assist the Mormons in their killing, no doubt thinking, well, we can get around to the Mormons later?

    I am trying as hard as I can to imagine the audience for this movie. Every time I make any progress, it scares me.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Village Voice
    September Dawn has the ham-fisted lyricism of political ads and pharmaceutical commercials. The schematic script is further burdened with heavy ironies and hackneyed dialogue
    Quote Originally Posted by Variaty
    The didactic presentation, grim speechifying and tacked-on love story all signify a less-than-healthy regard for the audience's intelligence.
    Quote Originally Posted by The New York Post
    Succeeds completely at failure; the unified incompetence of its writing, directing and acting suggest a man who manages to be on fire and drowning at the same time, just as the bus runs him over.
    Quote Originally Posted by The New York Daily News
    September Dawn, written by an evangelical Christian, may be the worst historical drama ever made.
    I saw it and agree with everything said here. Quite possibly the worst movie I've seen in five years, and I watched White Chicks not too long ago.

    Yes, on September 11th 1857 a group of Mormons ruthlessly slaughtered a wagon train of people. Worse than that, they pretended to be helping them escape from an Indian raid when they disarmed them and shot them in the back as they ran away screaming. It is awful. This film is a ham-fisted slap in the face to the memory of those who died (portrayed as foolish sheep).


    All this happened at Mountain Meadow (which, by the way, is less than fifty miles from my current location).

    I actually want a good movie to be made about the Mountain Meadow Massacre because it has the elements of a really good story, but this film isn't it. At it's best it's a poorly made western using cliche and sensationalism to substitute for story and at its worse it is hate filled anti-mormon rhetoric.
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  4. #4

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    Re: "September Dawn" movie review

    Quote Originally Posted by PirateMunkee View Post
    ....that the Latter-Day Saints fail to recognize as truly happening.
    As a matter of fact you are wrong in this matter. In the LDS magazine "Ensign" this month there is an eight page article on this tradgedy. It is very forthcoming in blaming some local church leaders in the events surrounding this horrible episode in LDS history.
    You can get a copy of the magazine at any Deseret Book store.
    There is also a book coming out soon by two LDS historians called "Massacre At Mountain Meadows". It will be published by Oxford University Press.
    Last edited by 7.17.55; 09-04-2007 at 07:49 AM.

  5. #5

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    Re: "September Dawn" movie review

    It is a sad part of LDS history. I agree - I too have heard the movie is terrible. And not just from a mormon standpoint. Terrance Stamp as Brigham Young? Seriously?

    There is plenty of material out there on the subject - it's too bad that Hollywood made another religious bashing movie, and another bad one.

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  6. #6

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    Re: "September Dawn" movie review

    The movie doesn't interest me in the least.

    But I've never heard that the LDS denied the incident at all. Of course, there is still much debate whether Brigham Young knew about it, but we will probably never know that.

    TJEL, thank you for the review and making sure we avoid this movie. I had never heard of it before this thread, I think I'll forget I know now.


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    Re: "September Dawn" movie review

    Quote Originally Posted by 071755 View Post
    As a matter of fact you are wrong in this matter. In the LDS magazine "Ensign" this month there is an eight page article on this tradgedy. It is very forthcoming in blaming some local church leaders in the events surrounding this horrible episode in LDS history.
    You can get a copy of the magazine at any Deseret Book store.
    There is also a book coming out soon by two LDS historians called "Massacre At Mountain Meadows". It will be published by Oxford University Press.

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  8. #8

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    Re: "September Dawn" movie review

    Not to belabor the point, but this blurb from the Onion's AVClub review of the movie says it all:

    From an artistic perspective, at least, Voight was better off facing anal rape at the hands of inbred Georgia rednecks.
    For a much more... well... better look at the Mountain Meadow Massacre, try and find the documentary called Burying the Past: Legacy of the Mountain Meadows. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0397048/
    Last edited by thejoshualee; 09-04-2007 at 09:07 PM.
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  9. #9

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    Re: "September Dawn" movie review

    Everytime I see this movie's title, I can't help but think they've made some kind of update to 'Red Dawn' (another FINE film)
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