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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chilling True Story - An Overlooked Gem of a Film
Like its 70s predecessor, Soldier Blue [DVD] [1970], this film vividly portrays an event in US history that most US citizens would rather forget about, hence the low box-office takings of both films on initial release. Where Soldier Blue dealt with the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, in which some 150 Native American men, women and children were murdered by the US Cavalry,...
Published on 30 Jan 2011 by Greywolf

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Importance Of Being Earnest
The subject of the film is a massacre by Mormons of the Arkansas Company (a wagon train of settlers) in the 1850s. The massacre is portrayed as the result of the exclusive views of the Mormons and their own experience of repression that had caused them to flee to beyond the United States. I can imagine this topic is the subject of bitter claim and counter-claim, but such...
Published 11 months ago by Charles Vasey


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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chilling True Story - An Overlooked Gem of a Film, 30 Jan 2011
By 
Greywolf (Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: September Dawn [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
Like its 70s predecessor, Soldier Blue [DVD] [1970], this film vividly portrays an event in US history that most US citizens would rather forget about, hence the low box-office takings of both films on initial release. Where Soldier Blue dealt with the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, in which some 150 Native American men, women and children were murdered by the US Cavalry, September Dawn deals with the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 120 European-American men, women and children on September 11th, 1857, by Mormons. Yes, Mormons. Yes, September 11th. And this gets us to the heart of the controversy that this film sparked on its release in 2007 and that continues to rumble on today. The central message of the film is that Islam has no monopoly on religiously-inspired murder. And the descendants of those responsible for the Mountain Meadows Massacre are still running the state of Utah today and still trying to hide this dreadful event from public scrutiny.
The film-makers are to be applauded for their good intentions in making the film. From doing a little background research, it seems that it is a chillingly accurate portrayal of what occurred and the reasons behind it, which were, as so often, deeply misguided religious fanaticism.
So it's well-intentioned and largely accurate as history, but is it any good as a film? Well, yes, it is. In fact it's very good. Soldier Blue has deservedly achieved cult status and is now widely recognised as a landmark film. I like to think that September Dawn will also grow in stature as the years go by. It certainly deserves to, if only for the quietly disturbing central performance of Jon Voight as the grim, paranoid Mormon bishop who orchestrates the massacre. In Voight's long career, I'd rate this as one of the best performances he's ever given, right up there with Deliverance [DVD] [1972]. Terence Stamp is almost equally disturbing as Mormon 'mouthpiece of God,' Brigham Young, though perhaps the most chilling aspect of his performance is that he is speaking words drawn entirely from Brigham Young's actual, madly inflammatory sermons and speeches.
There are ways in which the film veers away from historical accuracy. Most prominent among these is the fictional romance that springs up between the son of Jon Voight's bishop and a young woman among the about-to-be-murdered settlers. This is clearly an invention of the film-makers designed to draw viewers' emotions into the story. As such, I found it far more effective than the idiotic and annoying DiCaprio/Winslet love affair shoe-horned into James Cameron's bloated blockbuster, Titanic [1998] [DVD]. In September Dawn, the love story is given extra reason to exist in that it allows us to explore in greater depth the motivations of, and power relationships amongst, the Mormons responsible for carrying out the massacre. And it's well portrayed by the two young actors. In fact, the performances of all involved are uniformly good, supported by excellent cinematography, a well-written script, subtle editing and good, clear direction.
Which makes it even more of a shame that the Mormon church's efforts to trash and bury the film have proved so horribly effective. Almost as horribly effective as the cover-up of the massacre that the Mormon hierarchy orchestrated at the time and that continues to this day. Only one man was ever convicted for the 120 murders that took place, and memorials raised in memory of the dead have repeatedly been desecrated or destroyed by Mormons.
In summary, this film offers a valuable insight into a dark episode in American history, acts as a stark reminder that religiously-inspired murder is neither new nor confined to any one group, and it's a dramatically powerful, emotionally effective and extremely well-made film. My suggestion is to buy it and watch it while you still can. If the politically powerful Mormon church has its way, you won't be able to for long.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Importance Of Being Earnest, 27 Jan 2014
By 
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: September Dawn [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
The subject of the film is a massacre by Mormons of the Arkansas Company (a wagon train of settlers) in the 1850s. The massacre is portrayed as the result of the exclusive views of the Mormons and their own experience of repression that had caused them to flee to beyond the United States. I can imagine this topic is the subject of bitter claim and counter-claim, but such is the gist of the film. The vehicle for the story is the relationship between a young Mormon and a young settler.

The difficulty for the film is that we know there's going to be a massacre and it is hard to build the tension. Starting with that difficulty the film then hobbles itself further with a desperately earnest approach to everything with vast swathes of praying and a very slow treatment. As a result the story dragged until the ultimate slaughter (which made its point unequivocally). Imagine if you will Hotel Rwanda without the hotel manager - there is little to anchor a strong storyline, much though the star crossed lovers may try.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murdered By The Mormons : A True Story, 12 Sep 2011
By 
Malcolm (Edlesborough, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: September Dawn [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
September Dawn is an honest attempt to bring the September 11 1857 murder of over 120 members of a peaceful wagon train, to the silver screen.

Released in 2007 and directed by Christopher Cain this film stars John Voight as a paranoid almost rabid Mormon Bishop, Jacob Samuelson. Terry Stamp as the ageing Mormon Prophet Brigham Young,and Trent Ford and Tamara Hope as the incidental love interest. John Voight's character,Bishop Samuelson is a fictional but composite portrayal of several real men of the era.

Using contemporary documents, The Journal of Discourses of Brigham Young, we hear the Prophet expounding teachings on Blood Atonement, it is the time of the Utah War, Young wishes to be left alone to pursue his practise of Polygamy and finds himself at war with the United States. Blood atonement according to Young meant that perceived enemies and 'Gentiles'- the Mormon name for non-Mormons could have their blood spilled to save their sins. Against this background the film unfolds.
The Fancher-Baker wagon train are mostly Methodists from Arkansas and a few from Missouri, their only 'crime' is to travel through Utah Territory on their way to California. Mormon paranoia see's this innocent party of over 120 men, women and children shot, stabbed and beaten to death. Only children under 8 years of age (17 in number) were allowed to live, all witnessing the murder of their parents and siblings.

John Voight plays his part well, as does Terry Stamp as the cold, despotic Brigham Young, it is a good film in that it tells the story as near to the truth as the complicated evidence allows. The film was not a box-office hit in the USA generally, and Mormons in Utah were advised not to see it. For some people like myself, who had been members of the Mormon faith, it showed me that no matter how warm and friendly Mormons might be today, they are sitting on a pile of filth in their history.

Film length 107 minutes. No subtitles on the copy which I purchased.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bland treatment of historical wagon train massacre, 31 Dec 2008
By 
Amazon Customer (Bournemouth UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: September Dawn [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
September Dawn [2007]

This film seems to have been relatively overlooked in the UK but in America it is a very different story, the 47 reviews on amazon.com make fascinating reading dealing at length with the historical accuracy and religious implications of the film.

From a purely dramatic point of view I found "September Dawn" a well made movie, but rather bland and even the Romeo and Juliet type romance did nothing to enliven the proceedings.

However the episode where Jonathan Samuelson (Trent Ford) is seen as a horse whisperer taming a vicious but beautiful stallion is riveting.

Nevertheless this is a well acted and directed film, and if the subject matter interests you it is well worth watching.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Controversial Telling of the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857, 11 Feb 2013
By 
Tommy Dooley (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: September Dawn [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a Canadian made film which set out to dramatise the slaughter of over 120 men, women and children on the 11th September of 1857. As many of its' detractors have said this is a very biased in terms of the agenda of blame and has taken quite a few `rumours' and presented them as fact.

In the film we meet the Baker-Fancher wagon train as they enter the area of Iron County, Utah where they are stopped by the local militia and told to move on. Then Bishop Jacob Samuelson (legendary `Jon Voight')arrives with his two sons and decides to let them stay but he insists they camp at Mountain Meadow, which they agree gladly to do, as their livestock needed grazing and watering. The Bishop's son Jonathan (Trent Ford) meets with the young and pretty Emily (Tamara Hope) and it's sort of love at first sight. He is also a horse whisperer and tames an aggressive stallion in a very touching scene.

Then we move back to the Bishop who starts to whip up anti `gentile' fervour on these immigrants. Despite the advice of his son he eventually foments an attack to kill the whole wagon train. But they want to make it look like the Native American Paiute tribe carried out the attack. What unfolds is a tale based on the actual events but with a lot of anti Mormon feeling being injected for no historical reason at all. Brigham Young is played by Terence Stamp and he comes across as not having one iota of decency, which has to have been intentional.

From an historical perspective the film says this train was from Arkansas and Missouri which is true, and that as the Mormons were driven from Missouri this acted as a catalyst for their revenge. Actually the Utah War was in full swing with a distrust of all outsiders because of President Buchannan's heavy handed approach. Brigham Young had just ordered martial law and for grain to be stockpiled in case Federal troops did invade. Also Mountain Meadow was on the old Spanish trail and was well known to wagon train leaders like Fencher as he had done two trips already. The film says that the Bishop chose it as an ideal ambush point, well not that ideal as the initial attack was on the 7th September and it was only after a five day siege that the Wagon train party were duped into being disarmed and that came about because the militia thought that they had given themselves away as being white and feared about the consequences of a clearly illegal and immoral act.

The sad thing is the wagon train clearly had not realised their attackers were white or the duplicity of the Militia would not have worked. Had they realised this at the time they could have called off the slaughter, sadly they did not. So as a piece of cinema for history lovers - not that good, as a film I found it really rather engaging and very nearly a four star film. However, the material inaccuracies and the storm of controversy that this whipped up on release in America mean that this has caused harm and the spreading of lies which is unnecessary and divisive. It failed to take into account the politics of the time or the fact that Brigham Young actually sent a letter ordering the party safe passage, which sadly arrived on the 13th September. All of that said this got me interested in a piece of history that I knew nothing about and now I have had the diversion of doing some research, so it aint all bad and there are some really good performances and as I said I was quite gripped by the whole thing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good value dvd, 21 Jan 2013
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This review is from: September Dawn [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
This is based on a true story- had to google it to find out how much was 'true' and was surprised tolearn that it really did happen pretty much as portray apart from the 'love interest' that Americans crave!
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, 14 Oct 2012
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This review is from: September Dawn [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
This movie is a fictional love story set at the time of the Mountain Medows Massacre, a tragedy where 120 innocent people, including women and children, were brutally slaughted by Mormons.

The film attempts to answer the question of whether this massacre was ordered by LDS leader Brigham Young, and shows the consequences of the early LDS doctrine of blood atonement.

I found it very interesting and refreshing that a film finally showed one of the LDS church's main doctrine, polygamy, for what it really was: nothing spiritual, just concubinage.

Although the story is fictional, it definitely reflects historical accounts and situations and what real people felt and acted back then.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A One Trick Pony., 12 Jun 2011
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: September Dawn [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
******** CONTAINS SPOILERS ********

Zane Grey's fine western story "Riders of the Purple Sage" gave the Mormon Church a bad press, but this film trumps that. This Canadian movie does not pull its punches, and is highly controversial in its depiction of the Mountain Meadows Massacre of an emigrant wagon train by Mormons and Indians in Utah on September the 11th 1857. The date of the massacre also carries great symbolism in the films powerful depiction of the atrocities committed by religious fundamentalists, and it is very clear where the director and writer Christopher Cain is coming from. In the film the blame is laid squarely at the feet of the Mormon churches larger than life founder Brigham Young, although historically this has never been proven, and is never likely to be. As you may imagine this film has been vilified by the Mormon church. Subtle this film aint! Did Brigham Young really claim to be 'God on earth'? This does seem to be stretching it a bit!

"September Dawn" weaves an unlikely love story between an emigrant girl and a Mormon Bishops son, into the days just prior to the massacre. We then watch as religious hatred is whipped up against the gentiles by the hate filled Mormon leaders, leading to a day of infamy. Unfortunately the film is a bit of a 'one trick pony'. Without the obvious 'look what religious zealots can do to the world', which is rammed down our throats, it doesn't really have anything else to offer, and the 'bland' accusation begins to hold water. The opportunity to take an insightful look at extremism through the characters gets lost along the way, and instead we simply have some overacted frothing at the mouth. You will need to watch the end to see what I mean! There is a love story and then a massacre! Not the most cheery of subjects, and the film duly bombed at the box office, despite employing the heavyweight services of Terence Stamp as Brigham Young and Jon Voigt as a Mormon Bishop. The film did not impress the critics and it even got the rare distinction of a zero in the New York Post. Some simply found it an unpleasant movie. Like "Soldier Blue" and its clumsy Mai Lai reference, I simply don't like directors own prejudices and bigotry being shovelled down my neck in such a slap handed way, especially with my beloved westerns. Two stars because it is actually better than some of the absolutely dire modern westerns I have seen recently.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Present, 21 Jan 2013
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This review is from: September Dawn [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
Got this for my husband as a little extra for christmas he loved it. Would recommend it to anyone, a good story.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars September dawn, 23 Jan 2013
By 
J. Hutchins (France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: September Dawn [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
Very interesting film on an historic event which the mormons want to keep quiet. Only problem the world is not learning anything from these senseless masacres.
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September Dawn [2007] [DVD]
September Dawn [2007] [DVD] by Christopher Cain (DVD - 2008)
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