September Dawn

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -1 1/2

Jon Voight, Terrence Stamp, Taylor Handley, Lolita Davidovich, Tamara Hope. Period drama. Written by Christopher Cain, Carole Whang Schutter. Directed by Christopher Cain.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Supposedly based on actual events, the film tells of a wagon train bent on settling in Utah during the 19th century. A romance begins, but the group is attacked and slaughtered byMormons.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Except for the graphic massacre at the end, September Dawn felt like a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie. A kind of Romeo and Juliet /Hatfields and McCoys love story, with the Mormons not wanting their young men soiled by the female Missouri pioneers. The actors, with the exception of Jon Voight and Terrence Stamp, were less than electrifying, probably destined to star in TNT sit-coms. And Voight and Stamp were trapped by one-dimensional roles and limited production values. Veteran writer/director Christopher Cain (The Stone Boy, Where the River Runs Black, Young Guns) and the adoptive father of actor Dean Cain seemed constrained by an insufficient budget and his own stodgy screenplay and rhythmless pacing. (Ouch. For the record, Ive seen very capable work from this filmmaker.)

Whats more, I wasnt sure of the films intent. In these politically correct times, it seemed confusing that a Hollywood production would point a negative finger at anyones faith (other than mainstream Christianity, of course). Here, they have made a very deliberate statement concerning the Church of Latter Day Saints. The world in general sees the Mormon church as a family-orientated group, one that dominates the goings-on in Salt Lake City, but this film wants us to know that there is much sinister activity in its history, and perhaps its leadership of today.

Then I thought for a moment that the filmmakers were using this episode in history (one denied by the churchs hierarchy, by the way) as a metaphor, stating that there are indeed religions to be feared. Perhaps its even meant as an indictment against the zealots who have declared war on Judaism and Christianity. But that doesnt sound like anything that would come out of Hollywood, does it?

By films end, we are left with a bunch of dead people, an unrepentant Brigham Young and probably a very frustrated Mitt Romney.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Slow Hand Releasing, Black Diamond Pictures

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: Besides the graphic killing spree at the end of the film, that leaves women and children slaughtered along with the men folk, we see a flashback where a Mormon accused of adultery has his penis cut off; though that scene is filmed darkly, it is unmistakable. Blood: Some blood from the wounded and dying. We see a man get his throat cut.

Sex: Adultery is suggested in one scene. A discussion reveals that many of the Mormon men have several wives.


Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: Though the film paints the Mormons as all bad, the Christian pioneers depicted are God-fearing people who pray and call upon their Creator for guidance and mercy.

Running Time: 110 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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