Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration

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Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration
Directed byT. C. Christensen
Gary Cook
Produced byRon Munns
Written byGary Cook
StarringNathan Mitchell
Dustin Harding
Tayva Patch
Rick Macy
Music byMerrill Jenson
CinematographyT. C. Christensen
Edited byWynn Hougaard
Distributed byThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Release date
  • December 2005 (2005-12)
Running time
60 minutes

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 was shown in the Legacy Theater of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building from its opening on December 17, 2005 until early 2015, and opened in several LDS Church visitors' centers on December 24, 2005.

The film used 65 mm film[citation needed] and is currently[when?] 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] Additionally, the church has released the film in several languages including ASL, Spanish, French, German, and Japanese. The film is also now available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.[3]


The film begins on June 21, 1844, on a riverboat named Memphis on the Mississippi River. Mary, a recent Mormon convert, has traveled over 4,000 miles to Nauvoo, Illinois, with her father, who wouldn't let her make the trip by herself.[4] 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. Smith's life and the organization of the church is then shown. The first event 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.

The next segment tells of Smith's First Vision of God and Jesus Christ. Narration relates that the time was early in the spring of 1820.

Three years later, Smith receives a visitation from the Angel 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 resolved 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.[5]

The film then shows a major event during Smith's preparation to receive the plates, which is when he 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.

The rest of the film deals with the growth and movement of the church throughout the United States, since this is what took up the remainder of Smith's life. The film shows the first major movement of church members to Kirtland, Ohio in 1836, highlighting the annoyance of previous Ohio residents with the dramatic increase in church members, the poverty that many members experienced because of the move and the harassment of Smith by local mobs. In one scene, Smith is taken from his bed at night, and tarred and feathered. Emma removes what tar she can, and Smith preaches a sermon the next day. While in Kirtland, Smith reveals that God wants them to build a temple. After it is finished and a meeting has been held, Smith and Cowdery see another vision where God accepts the temple. Other personages then appear and confer additional priesthood keys or authorities on them.

Despite the success of the finished temple and visions, the film hints that there are troubles in Ohio, causing Smith and many others to leave. They travel to Missouri, where the Smith and the church members are persecuted. The incidents of Smith and associates being arrested and held in jails in Missouri are shown intermixed with other persecutions of Smith's followers. The events shown include the time in Richmond, Missouri when the guards were talking about what they had done to the Mormons, and Smith stands up in his bonds and forcefully rebukes them to be silent despite being unarmed himself. The main jail scene shown is the incarceration of Smith, Hyrum, and some others in a jail in Liberty, Missouri. Smith questions God, "How long shall thy hand be stayed?"[6] 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".[7]

Smith's voiceover tells us that the entire group in jail is freed, around which time the church leaves Missouri for Illinois to escape persecution. They begin building a new city, Nauvoo, Illinois. Smith calls several men to travel and preach the gospel to the British Isles for the first time. One of these pairs of men is shown preaching somewhere in the British Isles, 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.)

Back in Nauvoo, 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. Their enemies from Missouri and other places are trying to get them to Carthage to kill them and 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 the apostles, including Brigham Young.

On June 24, 1844, Smith, Hyrum, and two other men, John Taylor and Willard Richards 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 show on their faces that they understand that is the last time they'll see Smith alive. Meanwhile, Mary and her father have just arrived in Nauvoo and disembarked. They attempt to follow the riders so that they can meet Smith, but they finally give up when the riders pass out of town past the temple under construction. Mary's father then says, "We don't have to meet him to know that he is a prophet."

The final sequence shows the last days of both Smith and Hyrum's lives. Smith, Hyrum and some others have reported to the jail in Carthage, as requested. They are shown in an upper room of the jail 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 his historical last words, "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 then moves toward the window, following Smith in his last failed attempt to draw off the mob attack. The entire window 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 his historical last words, "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, saying, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto Salvation. The fulness of this Gospel was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph lived and died for the cause of truth. The work that he began continues to spread throughout the earth." The film ends with some of Smith's words from the book the Doctrine and Covenants "Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" (128:22).[8]


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.[9]

The film has been shown at a number of the church's visitors' center locations, including at the Mesa Arizona, Laie Hawaii, Idaho Falls Idaho, Los Angeles California, Hamilton New Zealand, Oakland California, St. George Utah, Washington D.C., London England temples, along with the Historic Kirtland, Historic Nauvoo, Hill Cumorah, and Independence Missouri centers. It has also been shown at the Cove Fort, Liberty Jail and San Diego Mormon Battalion historic sites, along with the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial, and the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters.[10]


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.[11][2] 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 was shown in the Legacy Theater.[12] and at select church visitors' centers through early 2015. There are no plans to release the revised edition on DVD since it is available to download.[11]


  1. ^ Digital faith: Former U student creates special effects for new LDS film Archived 2007-03-11 at the Wayback Machine 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. ^ "'Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration' comes to Netflix". 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Doctrine and Covenants, Section 121:2
  7. ^ Doctrine and Covenants, Section 121:7
  8. ^ Wikisource:The Doctrine and Covenants/Section 128
  9. ^ Smith' filming proceeds at a fast clip from Deseret News
  10. ^ Places to Visit from the LDS Church website
  11. ^ a b Miriam Shumway (3 April 2011). "New version of Joseph Smith movie available for download". The Daily Universe. Retrieved 15 April 2011.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Film about Joseph Smith Now Available Online\". Retrieved 2018-09-26.

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