Saturday 11 November 2006

Mormon Film and Video

A lot of folks seem to be enjoying the HBO series Big Love at the moment. It is a great series, on par with other HBO dramas like The Sopranos etc.

It's set in a Mormon world (somewhere called Utah? wouldn't mind seeing more Utes around), focused on a family whose generally-Mormon yet heterodox religious doctrines and lifeways (which include polygamy) seem to be abhorred by the Mormon mainstream, and therefore they hide their actual beliefs and practices.

The show is fascinating, and of course it's because the Hendricksons and their situation end up being very relatable after all... i think it spurs many viewers as it has us to reevaluate ideas of family and of how we are and ought to be living...I don't mean whether we should add more people to our marriage! the show turns out to be about the same challenges of relationship and communication and values that any other drama might be about

I'm aware that the show is not popular with most Latter-Day Saints, partly because it might be presenting favorably stuff that they don't agree with, and partly because the Hendrickson's LDS friends and neighbors, coworkers and employees might be seen unfavorably.

Well are you willing to have your mind opened and see how great these folks can be? then let me help you out by suggesting that you investigate the many very worthwhile Mormon movies that have come out in the last few years. You never heard of Mormon cinema? Yes it is another conspiracy keeping this information from you. Check out my blogspot neighbors at

I think the main thing we notice with these films is that they begin with the premise that human beings have a lot in common, and that it's natural and healthy to want to help each other (rather than from, what seems to have become considered in Hollywood the only believable premise, namely that all characters are ultimately opposed to each other, and that 'drama' is the struggle of all of them against each other). The result is movies that really are worth the time of watching them, and viewers are left inspired and thankfully unslimed

These movies got us picturing an interfaith spiritual film festival, where movies like these would be seen alongside ones like Dzongshar Khyentse's and even sincere agnostic films like the great new Stranger than Fiction

The majority that make it our way come from HaleStorm entertainment
We haven't seen all of their movies: maybe half have come to our Hollywood video, which capriciously sends movies to some and not other stores based on some, eh, racial profiling they do or something. And not everything we did see was memorable...We did especially enjoy The R.M., The Singles Ward, The Best Two Years...

We've developed a real agape love for Kirby Heyborne!!
hey buddy!

and no doubt you will too if you see a couple of his movies...

Perhaps the greatest Mormon movie yet watched by us still is God's Army, by Richard Dutcher (shown here filming Brigham City.) Dutcher wrote, directed, and stars in God's Army, an intense drama -- alright: Mormon-intense, for you overworldly, desensitized types. Even though the film is proselytizing and judgmental (probably qualities of Dutcher's, and notably not true of any of the other movies mentioned here), still it's a must-see for anyone who really likes movies and moviemaking, and as an example of the auteur movie. God's Army established the possibility and inspired the flood of Mormon film fun which followed ...

Try to watch that one and then the hilarious The Work and the Story, which is totally referencing God's Army

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Blogger yes-Iah garvey said...

found this online to round out the story. interesting for fans of the show

certainly there is evidence (--if you care to, see for discussion--) of the prevalence of polygamy in mormon history

i'm gestating more comments too..


Church Responds to Questions on HBO's Big Love
Various media outlets, 6 March 2006
(from Comments on the News at

Over the past few weeks, Church Public Affairs has received numerous calls from newspaper, magazine and TV entertainment writers about a new television series called Big Love. In the series, set in a modern suburb of Salt Lake City, the main character keeps up a deceptive life in a fringe world of polygamy with his three wives and households. Journalists want to know what the Church thinks of the program, the subject matter and HBO’s decision to promote it.

In responding, Church spokesmen have made three major points:

1. Concern for abuse victims
The Church has long been concerned about the illegal practice of polygamy in some communities, and in particular about persistent reports of emotional and physical child and wife abuse emanating from them. It will be regrettable if this program, by making polygamy the subject of entertainment, minimizes the seriousness of that problem and adds to the suffering of abuse victims.

2. Confusion over the continued practice of polygamy
The central characters of Big Love are not “Mormons,” or, more properly termed, Latter-day Saints. HBO has said the script makes it clear that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t practice polygamy. Still, placing the series in Salt Lake City, the international headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is enough to blur the line between the modern Church and the program’s subject matter and to reinforce old and long-outdated stereotypes.

Polygamy was officially discontinued by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1890. Any Church member adopting the practice today is excommunicated. Groups that continue the practice in Utah and elsewhere have no association whatsoever with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most of their practitioners have never been among its members.

Unfortunately, this distinction is often lost on members of the public and even on some senior journalists. When ABC network’s Prime Time recently aired a program focused on the secretive polygamous community of Colorado City, the reporter repeatedly referred to members of the community as “Mormon polygamists.” In response, the Church points to the Associated Press style guide for journalists which states: "The term Mormon is not properly applied to the other ... churches that resulted from the split after (Joseph) Smith's death." In other words, polygamous communities should never be referred to as "Mormon" polygamists or “Mormon” fundamentalists.

3. Concern over the moral standards of television entertainment
Despite its popularity with some, much of today’s television entertainment shows an unhealthy preoccupation with sex, coarse humor and foul language. Big Love, like so much other television programming, is essentially lazy and indulgent entertainment that does nothing for our society and will never nourish great minds. Parents who are casual about their viewing habits ought not to be surprised if teaching moral choices and civic values to their children becomes harder as a result.

For that reason and others, Church leaders have consistently cautioned against such entertainment, joining with other religious, education and government leaders in inviting individuals and families to follow a higher road of decency, self-discipline and integrity.

(from another Comments on the News)
There is no such thing as a "polygamous" Mormon. Mormon is a common name for a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church discontinued polygamy more than a century ago. No members of the Church today can enter into polygamy without being excommunicated. Polygamist groups in Utah, Arizona or Texas have nothing whatsoever to do with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Personally, I detest the very idea of this show and severely dislike that it perpetuates a continuing myth!

11/12/2006 1:45 p.m.  
Blogger yes-Iah garvey said...

the above, including the part at the end about "detesting" came from this site:

11/12/2006 1:48 p.m.  
Blogger yes-Iah garvey said...

I think that a lot of the general anti-mormon prejudice is due to the fact that americans resent proselytizing, or anyone telling them what to do in general (see the descriptions of p.o.w.'s by nationalty in Slaughterhouse Five).

Of course every religion of scale is going to become a repository for some amount of bs

But those of us who value spiritual life, of whatever flavor, have to hand it to these folks on several counts.

* they do try. and as the saying goes, "knock and ye shall enter". Because they give of themselves they have success in their inner lives. They aren't satisfied with lip-service being called a spiritual practice.

* The Seven Habits and subsequent work by Stephen Covey, including the planner technology marketed by Franklin-Covey is of real value in this time, to anyone regardless of beliefs or lack of. Connecting a real mission to the time-space discontinuum of a given lifetime is at root what spiritual life is all about
All of that material, while informed by a variety of business and success literature, also comes squarely out of the LDS concerns mentioned above

11/13/2006 11:10 a.m.  

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