Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration

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Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration
Directed by T. C. Christensen
Gary Cook
Produced by Ron Munns
Written by Gary Cook
Starring Nathan Mitchell
Dustin Harding
Tayva Patch
Rick Macy
Music by Merrill Jenson
Cinematography T. C. Christensen
Edited by Wynn Hougaard
Distributed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Release date(s) December, 2005
Running time 60 min
Language English

Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration is a 2005 film that focuses on some of the events during the life of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, which was both filmed and distributed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The film has been shown in the Legacy Theater of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building since December 17, 2005, and opened in several LDS Church visitors' centers on December 24, 2005.

The film used 65 mm film[citation needed] and is currently being projected digitally. It also took advantage of the new and developing digital intermediate process.[1] In March 2011, the church released a revised cut of the film, which is available to watch in select visitors' centers and online.[2]


The film begins on June 21, 1844, on a riverboat named Memphis on the Mississippi River. Mary, a recent Mormon convert, has travelled over 4,000 miles to Nauvoo, Illinois, with her father, who wouldn't let her make the trip by herself.[3] He asks her if she intends to meet Joseph Smith to know that he is a prophet of God. Mary responds that she already knows that Smith is a prophet of God. She says that her father can know too by reading what he wrote.

The movie then shows Mary's father beginning to read an issue of Times and Seasons and the Book of Mormon. Significant parts of the life of Smith, with occasional narration from Smith, are presumably from the issue of Times and Seasons shown.

The first part of Smith's life that is shown is in 1813 when the bone in his left leg was seriously infected. Amputation was avoided by an experimental operation to remove the infected parts of the bone.

Next is the family in 1819 collecting maple sap to make syrup. Two cycles of winter are shown amid scenes of family life, attending revivals, reading the Bible and discussions with the local clergy. Narration relates that the time was early in the spring of 1820. The movie and narration relate a brief version of the First Vision.

Three years later, Smith receives a visitation from Moroni who tells him where to find the golden plates. After finding them, he relates that he has been told that there will be several years of training and preparation before he can take the plates. Shortly thereafter, Joseph's eldest brother, Alvin, dies. The film has shown the close relationship that Alvin, Hyrum, and Joseph had, so the death of Alvin deeply affects Smith. This issue is later revolved with Smith's 1836 vision at the Kirtland Temple, where he sees Alvin in the celestial kingdom, and the doctrine of salvation for the dead is revealed.[4]

Smith meets and marries Emma Hale, against the objections of her parents.

After a few years, Smith is allowed to retrieve the golden plates and translates them. During one session of translation, a passage about the necessity of baptism is translated. Smith and his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, pray to learn more and receive a visitation from John the Baptist, who confers upon them the authority to baptize. Next is a visitation of Peter, James and John, who confer upon them the authority to organize the Church of Christ, which they do in April 1830. During some night thereafter, Smith is taken from his bed at night, tarred and feathered. Emma removes what tar she can, and Smith preaches a sermon the next day.

The next scene is in 1836 in Kirtland, Ohio, where a recent convert, a widower with three children, comes to town but has nowhere to live. Smith organizes a group to build them a house. Smith then reveals that God wants them to build a temple. After it is finished and a meeting has been held, Smith and some others see another vision where God accepts the temple. Other personages then appear and confer additional priesthood keys or authorities on Smith and the others present.

Other persecutions of the Mormons are shown. Several incidents of Smith and associates being arrested and held in jails and prisons are shown intermixed with other persecutions of Smith's followers. At one of the incarcerations, those watching over the prisoners were talking about what they had done to the Mormons, Smith stands up in his bonds and forcefully rebukes the men, after which they were quiet. The incarceration of Smith, Hyrum, and their associates in a jail in Liberty, Missouri is the longest jail scene in the film. Smith questions God, "How long shall thy hand be stayed?"[5] It is made clear during this incarceration that Smith is growing discouraged and having doubts about what he is doing. Smith then hears a voice, "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high".[6]

Smith calls several men to travel and preach the gospel. One of these pairs of men is shown preaching, where they encounter Mary and her father. (This is presumably where the story switches from the story being read to what is happening at the movie's present time.)

The setting then shifts to Nauvoo, Illinois, in the 1840s, where the Mormons are building a new city. Smith tells the people that God has told him to build another temple. After quite a bit of the construction has been completed, Smith and Hyrum are in the basement of the temple discussing going to Carthage. Smith tells Hyrum that if they go, they will not come back. Smith is shown conferring all of the keys and authorities that he holds on apostle Brigham Young.

On 24 June 1844, Smith, Hyrum, and two others mount their horses and ride through the town on the way out of town. During this review, the music to "Praise to the Man" is played in the background while the people the riders pass seem to show on their faces that this is the last time they'll see Smith alive. Meanwhile, Mary and her father have just arrived at the dock and disembarked. They attempt to follow the riders so that they can meet Smith, but they finally give up when they ride out of town past the temple under construction. Mary's father then says, "We didn't need to meet him to know that he is a prophet."

Smith and his associates have reported to the jail in Carthage, as requested. They are shown in an upper room of the building when men with guns begin running up the stairs. The men attempt to force their way into the room, but the occupants hold back the door. A shot is fired through the door which hits Hyrum in the face. Hyrum says, "I am a dead man." Smith is shown attending to Hyrum when he quickly dies. Smith looks up at one of the windows in the room where the panes of glass are being broken by balls fired from outside. The camera (presumably Smith's view) then moves toward the window, the entire pane is broken and the camera view pans slightly upward to where the sun is filtering through the clouds (in the right of the frame). Smith's image is then shown on the left of the frame looking towards where the sun is filtering through the clouds, with the voice of Joseph saying, "Oh Lord, my God." Then fades to black.

A picture of the Nauvoo Temple is then shown with three sentences praising the work that Smith has done.


The Deseret News reported in 2005 that production on the film "was rushed" in order to meet the church's 2005 bicentennial of Smith's birthday.[7]

The film has been shown at Cove Fort Historic Site, Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors Center, Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors Center, Hill Cumorah Visitors Center, Historic Kirtland Visitors Center, Historic Nauvoo Visitors Center, Idaho Falls Idaho Temple Visitors Center, Los Angeles California Temple Visitors Center, Hamilton New Zealand Temple Visitors Center, Oakland California Temple Visitors Center, St. George Utah Temple Visitors Center, Washington D.C. Temple Visitors Center, Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial, Liberty Jail Historic Site, Independence Missouri Visitors Center, Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, London England Temple Visitors Center, and the San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site.[8]


The original film was released on DVD through the church's Distribution Services on October 1, 2010, as part of the DVD set "Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Visual Resource DVDs".

2011 Revision[edit]

In March 2011, the church released a new version of the film. The revised cut is expected to help those unfamiliar with Smith's story understand it better than the original did.[9] The revisions to the film included a new narration given by Smith's mother, Lucy Mack Smith, while 40 percent of the film is new content, and it is also five minutes shorter than the original. Because of the level of new content added, some new filming was required.[2] The revised film is available online, on the church's YouTube channel—Mormon Messages—and is available for download on their radio service website, the Mormon Channel. The revised film is also now being shown in the Legacy Theater and at select church visitors' centers. There are no plans to release the revised edition on DVD since it is available to download.[9]


  1. ^ Digital faith: Former U student creates special effects for new LDS film from The Daily Utah Chronicle
  2. ^ a b "Video: Joseph Smith, prophet of the restoration". Church News. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Gary Cook(Director and Writer),T.C. Christensen(Director) (2005). Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration. LDS Motion Picture Studio. Event occurs at 1min. Retrieved 2008-08-01. "I couldn't let you come 4,000 miles, alone." 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Doctrine and Covenants, Section 121:2
  6. ^ Doctrine and Covenants, Section 121:7
  7. ^ Smith' filming proceeds at a fast clip from Deseret News
  8. ^ Places to Visit from the LDS Church website
  9. ^ a b Miriam Shumway (3 April 2011). "New version of Joseph Smith movie available for download". The Daily Universe. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 

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