September Dawn

(2007) * 1/2 R
111 min. Black Diamond Pictures. Director: Christopher Cain. Cast: Jon Voight, Terence Stamp, Taylor Handley, Lolita Davidovich, Tamara Hope.
Christopher Cain's September Dawn has succeeded in whipping up controversy by unambiguously pointing a finger at Brigham Young (Terence Stamp) in recounting the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah. But Cain and co-screenwriter Carole Whang Schutter don't succeed in making a good movie. It's impossible not to notice how the filmmakers have followed the Titanic paradigm by playing a simplistic forbidden romance between a Mormon and a gentile (CW-ready stars Trent Ford and Tamara Hope) against the backdrop of tragedy. The film's surprisingly hostile anti-Mormon hysterics pause for a scene of theological-debate-as-courtship, but every Mormon other than the sensitive young lover is evil and/or insane. We shouldn't forget the tragic events, but must we remember them like this?
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