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September Dawn (2006)

1 rating: -1.0
Westerns movie directed by Christopher Cain

September Dawnis an unusual hybrid: a love story, a Western, a historical drama, and a statement against religious intolerance. The fit between the four parts is uneasy at best. Christopher Cain (Young Guns) begins in 1877 as Utah governor Brigham Young … see full wiki

Tags: Movies
Director: Christopher Cain
Genre: Western
1 review about September Dawn (2006)

Unforgiving Prejudices

  • Aug 5, 2008
Like much of American life, religious freedom and tolerance have evolved over time. All today's squabbles over religious intolerance seem pretty petty compared to some past times. Dissenters Roger Williams and Anne Hathaway were banished from their early Rhode Island community, and people sometimes killed each other over what they believed.

Before there was a millenium 9/11 by foreign forces, there was a domestic one on the plains known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The beleaguered Mormons haunted by a perilous past, held onto their Utah territory with reason to believe they were to be removed by U.S. forces. When the Fancher-Baker wagon train stopped at Mountain Meadows, they had three things in mind: rest, replenish their supplies; then head to California. Although many were from Arkansas, a few families followed into their train from Missouri, a place where Mormon land had been confiscated and their followers dispersed. After leader Joseph Smith was killed in prison near Nauvoo, Illinois, the Utah Mormons, led by Brigham Young (Terence Stamp) and John D. Lee (Jon Gries), were willing to shed the blood of suspicious "Gentiles". Working with Pauite Indians, the Mormons hoodwinked then massacred the émigrés culminating on September 11, 1857. Based on an apostle's allegedly heavenly visions, a question remains: Were The Mormons deceived or did they misunderstand their messages?

Although illuminating to watch, `September Dawn' comes off as an above par made-for-TV movie. Not as accomplished or emotionally cohesive as `Amazing Grace,' the movie remains better-than-average historical fiction. Jon Voight as Mormon "apostle" Jacob Samuelton leads a lesser known cast through a drama of prejudice and counter prejudice anchored by a fictitious couple, Emily Hudson (Tamara Hope) and Jonathan Samuelton (Trent Ford). Both being mouth-pieces of tolerance, an element of `Romeo and Juliet' enters the strife with a partially effective import.

Many of the flashback scenes of wrongs the Mormon's endured are done in old-fashioned double-imaging, thanks to editor Jack Hofstra. The movie's often shot beautifully with a `Horse Whisperer' scene and a romantic moonlight scene to give the film some depth. If you were queasy about 'Rambo,' you may want to be forewarned here: Some of the footage is unsettling. Overall, the level of interest you have in these events will effect the level of satisfaction you have with the movie.

(Comic relief: When Emily expresses her love for Jonathan, Robert Humphries [Huntley Ritter] warns her she'll be "...one of his many wives," but "At least you'll have some help with the dishes.")

A J.P.'s Pan 2 *'s= Mediocre

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