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Movie Review: September Dawn

Alternate Title: Horace Greeley Gave Bad Advice

Story: The Massacre by Mormons of 120 innocent men women and children as they were headed to California through Utah at Mountain Meadows on September 11, 1857 was a dark day in American history. It is a great story that needs to be told but sadly this is not the movie to tell it. Director and writer Christopher Cain along with co-writer Carole Whang Schutter have created one fine mess of a movie. 

If you don't have a clue as to Mormon history you will not be any more illuminated via this vehicle. Flashbacks try to fill you in on why these Mormons were so angry at these passers-by but it is poorly depicted, wildly non-linear and essentially laughable.

As if the true story were nod enough fodder for the script writers they threw in a cockamamie love story that makes you want to puke. Needless to say, the Mormon community is not supportive of this film. The depiction of the actual massacre is exploitive and chilling. The cover up would also have made a good story but is sketchy at best.

My advice is to buy Jon Krakauer's amazing book Under the banner of Heaven and you will learn much more about the Mormon community including this massacre.

For more about what really happened at Mountain Meadows check out this site. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Meadows_massacre. A different account comes from Mormon Wiki, a free encyclopedia about Mormons written from the perspective of faithful members. http://www.mormonwiki.com/mormonism/Mountain_Meadows_massacre

Acting: Jon Voight as the fanatical follower of Brigham Young looks as if he is on crack. Terrence Stamp as Brigham Young reminded me of Captain Ahab. Trent Ford and Tamara Hope are the adoring young couple. Jon Gries, Taylor Handley, Lolita Davidovich, Shaun Johnston, Dean Cain (son of the director) all do the best they can with their one dimensional roles. 

Predilection: I loved reading Jon Krakauer's book Under the banner of Heaven and I watch Big Love on HBO.

Critters: Cattle and horses.

Food: Campfire stuff.

Sex Spectrum: Sex? Stop it! Even with polygamy, there is no sex.

Blatant Product Placement: The Mormon Church would have probably paid to have their names not be in this film.

Theater Audience: About 20 men most of whom were making strange noises while eating their popcorn and drinking their humongous sized sodas.

Weather: Utah is fine in the summer.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 5 This film was very violent.

Drift Factor: I looked at my watch too many times.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Good grief, no.

Big Screen or Rental: Neither. read a book.

Length: Too long however long it was.