- Format: NTSC
- Number of tapes: 1
- Studio: Fox Video
- VHS Release Date: Feb 17 2003
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- ASIN: 6303364764
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #24,761 in Video (See Top 100 in Video)
It is not true that the subject of polygamy is mentioned only once. It is confronted several times, including as the subject of a fierce argument between Linda Darnell and Tyrone Power. Brigham admits to having 12 wives at the time of the trek (he had 27, count 'em, by the end of his life), and there are other allusions to polygamy, e.g., the frequent presence of his second wife alongside his first. The script presents the viewer with a "this is how it was" attitude. You may decide whether you approve or disapprove.
Having the comments version available after we watched the movie greatly enhanced our understanding of the history. The comments include some interesting details about location filming and casting decisions. I was amazed to learn that the locust scenes were actually filmed during a locust invasion in Nevada, and that this was a grueling experience for the cast and crew. Those are real bugs! I was also amused to hear that the depiction of Joseph Smith's murder was very controversial. It was considered extremely violent, and the director fought not to have it edited. The average TV cop show today is infinitely rougher than anything in this flick!
All in all, a very nice movie for a pleasant evening, with some popcorn and an open mind.
This film was made with an "arm's distance" approval of the hierarchy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Indeed, for some reason, Mormon prophet David O. McKay had a quite cordial relationship with Cecil B. DeMille, and the great filmmaker willed Brigham Young University his papers.
This is quite an interesting film, and has many of the conventions of the era. Porter Rockwell is played as comic relief rather than the rough and tumble mountain man's mountain man that he was. Vincent Price makes an interesting Joseph Smith, with that eerie twinge to his voice giving a sense of mystery. Tyrone Power did a wonderful job of breathing life into a man who was larger than life, and Linda Darnell isn't overwhelmed by her role or her character.
The sets are a major part of the film. You can almost taste the trail dust. Filming on location adds to the power of the film, and the black and white gives the film an Ansel Adams feel. You see the long trails across the long plains, plus the ragged Rocky Mountains. While they were filming, there was an actual outbreak of crickets in Nevada, so they sent a camera crew out, and you are seeing the real thing!
True to all historical fiction, this film's history is subservient to the fiction. For those wanting the facts, I suggest Leonard Arrington's aptly-titled "Brigham Young: American Moses." For a sample of his theology, there is "Discourses of Brigham Young," compiled by John A Widtsoe.
The film in itself is a good, especially for the AMC and Turner Classics fans that like films that wisely omit the salacious sex, machine gun profanity, or scene after scene of computer generated effects that glitz in an attempt to cover up a feeble story line. This is good, solid Americana film that hearkens back to the days of pre-cause-oriented Hollywood.