Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration–The Alternate Cut

An actor portrays Joseph Smith in a film about his life that is now available on the Internet.

A brand new cut of the full-length Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration film, shown at the Joseph Smith Memorial building at Temple Square, and recently released on the Doctrine & Covenants and Church History Resource DVD, has now been presented online at the Mormon Channel – but with some significant changes.

While the film is 5 minutes shorter, the framework story has changed to be a narration by Lucy Mack Smith, and up to 40% of the film is brand new.

The structure and details of the film are much better and tighter than the original version. It’s still not perfect, there are still some details that I wish were different, but as to its attempts to tell cohesive and coherent story, it is a much better production.

Some examples:

  • The story segment of young Joseph’s leg injury has been removed to focus more on the development of Joseph’s prophetic career.
  • There are additional subtle details (in some cases taken from Lucy Mack’s book) that are noted in this version that were not present in the original, such as the general story of the Book of Mormon record being known to Joseph before the translation process began, and relating such details to his family.
  • The Minister figure is viewed as being significantly more sympathetic, and less of a cardboard antagonist. Additional scenes show him having genuine concern for Joseph’s spiritual development and growth (he encourages him and assists him in studying the scriptures), and is shown in a scene showing him expressing genuine sorrow and concern for his conviction that a dying Alvin, without having been baptized, will be eternally lost.
  • A brief context-setting scene is shown of Joseph’s early attempt to translate at the Hale home, right before the death of Joseph and Emma’s first child.
  • Brigham Young is given a more substantial introduction. Still no sign of Sidney Rigdon, though.
  • Better context is given to Joseph’s imprisonments. In the originally, he was shown being arrested, or in jail, but never really explained why. Here, the actual charges are often presented. Much better context for the journey to Carthage, for example, is now presented.
  • The film ends with Brigham Young leading the exodus, (even though Lucy Mack states in the film that she’s not going along) which fades to the modern Temple Square, with a statement of the Church expanding to become an international Church throughout the world.

Check out the story and additional details at the LDS Newsroom here, and watch the film itself here, or as embedded below:

4 thoughts on “Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration–The Alternate Cut

  1. Just saw the martyrdom scene. Unfortunately they still have Joseph flying into space at the end, but at least they took out the silly montage recapping the previous hour that the audience had just seen, as well as the whispered “oh lord my god”–which was actually a masonic cry for help.

  2. Interesting enough, I do feel that this version of the film does emphasize Joseph ‘the man’ more than the earlier one – in a good way. While still hagiographic to a degree, I do feel that it steps it down a significant notch. A lot of cheesy side stories were removed, while others were retained. It serves as a better historical overview than the previous one did.

    Yes, it’s still oversimplified. No, there’s no mention (or imagery of) Seer Stones, Sidney Rigdon, or Plural Marriage. In the film, apart from a vague comment by Lucy, there’s not any hint as to the Succession Crisis. Brigham Young is presented as the obvious and only possible leader. It’s a simple watchable overview for the curious as to where Joseph stands in relation to the current Church.

    But I’m actually okay with all that right now. I do think there’s been some progress, even if it’s subtle. The Church as an institution is going out of its way to get some tricky stuff out there. With released JSPP material out there, there’s a TON of not-covered-in-Gospel-Doctrine issues now being presented. Danites, multiple FV accounts, multiple, multiple, MULTIPLE versions of edited revelations, ordained women being told to give healing blessings, etc.

    A Ton of material not familiar to your every day members is now…sitting there. Ready for anyone to pick up and read. And, judging by sales, actually being bought, too.

    The optimist in me likes to think this is setting the foundation for some shifts in further ‘correlated’ material. It won’t come all at once, but I’m interested in seeing how its handled as more of this material actually gets published by the institutional Church itself.

  3. The original version was more inspiring to me. Is there any plan to make the original version available online?

  4. I don’t think there are any further plans for an online version. You can still get the theatrical version of the “Doctrine and Covenants Resource DVD” set from Distribution.

    If you don’t mind my asking, what is ‘more inspiring’ from the original version for you than in this version?

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