Independently Produced and Distributed by Black Diamond Pictures, Major Motion Picture September Dawn Confronts Church of Latter Day Saints
Film Incites Media Controversy for Historical Portrayal of September 11, 1857 Mormon Massacre of Wagon Train
LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Independent motion picture September Dawn, released nationwide theatrically on August 24, 2007 and continuing to play in theaters across the country, is generating controversy in the national media for its historically-based portrayal of the Mountain Meadows Massacre—in which a wagon train of 120 men, women, and children were killed by Mormons in Utah on September 11, 1857.
“A shocking piece of history about a particularly vicious religious war fought right here on American soil… told with artistry, conviction, power, and entertainment value”
Director Chris Cain, whose previous films include Young Guns and Pure Country, comments, “Our film depicts a historical event that illuminates the prevalence and dangers of religious extremism—and the fact that it can exist anywhere, at any time. Although our intention has never been to denigrate the current Church of Latter Day Saints, or the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, the film has clearly touched upon certain sensitivities within the church.”
Members of the Mormon Church contest the historically documented events; especially, as the 150-year anniversary of the massacre draws near and additional evidence comes to light. In particular, the role of church leader Brigham Young—who is depicted in the film as authorizing the massacre—is hotly contested. Only recently, the Mormon Church—coinciding with the release of the film—admitted complicity of church leaders in the attack, as outlined in an article by Richard Turley, Managing Editor, Family and Church History Department.
Media accounts have begun to surface questioning whether there is an organized effort to discredit the film, especially in light of numerous heavy-handed reviews (“September Dawn: Criticism or Sabotage?” by Ken Eliasberg).
Author and historian William Bagley, who wrote the extensively-researched account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre “Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows” (University of Oklahoma Press), has gone on record to deem the film September Dawn historically accurate.
Critics’ reviews of the film range from high praise for the film’s execution and confrontation of the issue of religious extremism (“A shocking piece of history about a particularly vicious religious war fought right here on American soil… told with artistry, conviction, power, and entertainment value”–Rex Reed), to condemnation of the picture for presenting a version of historical events questioned by the present-day Church of Latter Day Saints (“I am trying as hard as I can to imagine the audience for this movie. Every time I make any progress, it scares me.”–Roger Ebert). Actor Jon Voight has garnered near-universal praise, however, for his powerful performance as Mormon Bishop Jacob Samuelson.
Links to Selected Media Coverage: