The Work and the Glory (film)

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The Work and the Glory
Directed by Russell Holt
Produced by
Written by
Music by Sam Cardon
Cinematography T. C. Christensen
Distributed by Excel Entertainment Group
Release dates
  • November 24, 2004 (2004-11-24)
Running time
118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7.5 million
Box office $3,347,647

The Work and the Glory is a 2004 historical fiction drama film directed by Russell Holt. It tells the story of the fictional Steed family in the 1820s and their struggles trying to adopt the then-new Mormon religion and explores their relationship with their community, with its founder, Joseph Smith and the rest of the Smith family.

This movie is based on the first novel by Gerald N. Lund in the nine-part The Work and the Glory series. The first novel is titled Pillar of Light, so this film is sometimes given that prefix (i.e. Pillar of Light: The Work and the Glory), but the prefix does not appear anywhere in the film itself. However, Pillar of Light: The Work and the Glory was the working title for the film.[citation needed]


The Steed family moves from their Vermont settlement to upstate New York. There they set up a farm. While trying to clear some land for farming, the family's father, Benjamin, hires two local boys to help out, Joseph and Hyrum Smith. From their association with the Smith boys, their lives will never be the same. Soon they suffer persecution, bigotry and self-doubt as they try to resolve their allegiance to those they love and a gospel they believe is true.


Early on in the film, the family's association with Martin Harris, a prominent figure of the early Latter Day Saint movement, is established. Carefully woven throughout the film are events which tie into actual history of the church, such as Harris' mortgage of his farm for the publication of the Book of Mormon. In the film, Harris recommends the Smith boys as hired help for the Steeds.

The Smith boys prove to be hard workers, but are eschewed by some town members. Apparently, they are put off by Smith's claims of seeing a vision and claim that someday he will receive a "Gold Bible".

The Steeds' oldest son, Joshua, is quickly swayed by the towns people's attitudes and encourages his father to fire the Smith boys. At the same time he is courting the wealthy merchant's daughter, Lydia McBride. Soon, as Joshua's friendship with some of the town's ne'er-do-well's increases, he has a falling out with his father and leaves home. He finds work at the town's port, but quickly adopts the habits of his friends and becomes a drunkard. However, he still tries to court McBride, though it becomes increasingly difficult as her father disapproves of Steed.

However, the Steeds' younger son, Nathan, believes Joseph's story, having heard it directly from him. He meets McBride while trying to contact his brother, Joshua. He doesn't court her, knowing his brother's affection for her, but it is clear early-on that they have an easy relationship and similar interests.

Eventually, Benjamin Steed ends his employment of the Smith boys, believing his association with them is detrimental to his family's reputation.

Joshua and his friends learn Smith is about to receive the "Gold Bible" (the Golden Plates) and set up a plan to ambush him and steal the gold. Lydia learns of their plan and warns the Steed family, who along with her warn the Smith family. They arrive at the Smith home just before Joseph does (though he was attacked, he retained the plates and is relatively unharmed). Learning of the attack, Benjamin and Nathan head into town to find Joshua. Finding him at his usual haunt, the local bar, Benjamin confronts him. Joshua is standoffish, but doesn't deny he and his friends attacked Smith. A fight breaks out between Benjamin and his son, though no serious injuries are inflicted. The confrontation results in Joshua fleeing the town and becoming an outlaw, eventually settling in Missouri.

With Joshua gone, Nathan and Lydia's relationship grows and strengthens. In order to receive permission to marry Nathan, Lydia must attend a private school in Boston for a year, but Nathan uses this time to purchase his own land and build his own home. However he becomes a member of the Latter-Day Saint movement established by Smith, which infuriates McBride's father, and he demands she break her engagement to him. She flees from the school before completing the requisite year.

At the edge of the Frontier, Joshua learns of his brother's engagement to Lydia, for whom he still holds a torch. He returns to Palmyra and confronts Nathan. After a squabble, Lydia herself declares that she loves Nathan and would never return to Joshua. He flees again as the town's law enforcement has a warrant for his arrest.

Lydia confronts Nathan, asking him who he loves more, her or the new gospel. Because he is unable to deny either, she breaks with him.

Nathan writes a letter to Lydia, trying to win her back and delivering her a copy of the Book of Mormon. Her father, however, finds it before she receives it and discards it in the trash.

All this while, Benjamin has been suspicious of Smith and his religion. However, his entire household is intrigued by Smith and try to learn more, but Benjamin has forbidden mention of his name or the religion Smith founded in his household. After a confrontation with Nathan one day, he reconsiders his decision and agrees to allow the family to investigate Smith's church if they need to.

Nathan then takes his sisters and his mother to one of Smith's meetings in a distant area. They are all subsequently baptized (it is implied that Nathan has already been baptized into the church). While they are gone, Lydia discovers Nathan's discarded letter and book. Defying her parents, she visits Nathan's in-construction home and studies his Book of Mormon gift. Nathan returns to his farm to find a note from Lydia that quotes Ruth 1:16–17. He also finds Lydia there who accepts his proposal.


The Work and the Glory currently maintains a 17% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is Mormon cinema's 2nd biggest box office hit and the second LDS film to top 3 million viewers in theaters. The Other Side of Heaven is the other film to do so.[1]

See also[edit]


Unless otherwise noted, the information in this article is from the DVD release of this film.

External links[edit]