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.
- 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.