The Work and the Glory 3: A House Divided

by Jen

-Directed by: Sterling Van Wagenen

-Sam Hennings, Brenda Strong, Eric Johnson

In the past, LDS films have portrayed Joseph Smith and the Saints in general as virtually flawless. They didn’t make mistakes. They didn’t get angry or sick or frustrated. The Work and the Glory series does something different, however. They show the Saints and the Prophet as people. Imperfect, flawed people who did their best in some of the most trying times in the history of the United States. What made them different though was that they did it with help from Heavenly Father.

The story opens with the return of Joshua Steed to Missouri. He comes back a changed man, with both a wife and family at his side. Almost immediately though, he’s caught up in the “Mormon problem” and forced to face the things he has longed to forget. Things that include the family he still loves, no matter how much he might try to deny it.

It is also the story of the trials that plagued the Saints in Kirtland. With the failure of the bank they created to help ease their financial burdens, dissention and a lack of faith caused a great deal of anguish to the members and their families. Through it all though, the Prophet and those close to him maintained their faith and believed that the Lord had a plan. They believed despite their own flaws, or perhaps because of them.

When the Saints came back to Missouri, events were set in motion that would spiral into events would become some of the most violent in the church’s history. Members were beaten, persecuted and even killed all in the name of liberty and patriotism. When his new wife takes matters into her own hands, Joshua is forced to act and to take a stand for what he loves instead of what’s easiest. Being reunited with his family, his heart is softened and he takes a step on the road he was meant to walk.

When I was sent this movie, I wasn’t sure what to think. I hadn’t read the books, and it’s been my experience that church films were about as thrilling as watching paint dry. The people behind this film wanted to make something special here. Something that could touch the hearts and minds of members and non-members alike. They succeeded masterfully. This is a film made with the artistry of anything put out by major studios, and filled with performances that will resonate with you for days to come.

My only complaint is that the story about the financial problems of the church seems almost like an afterthought. I’d have liked it to have been defined a little more clearly. Overall though, the story is generally flawless with first rate performances and realizations of the important figures in church history. This is a movie to care about, and a movie to share with both members and non members alike.

-Jenn Untch
Liberty, Missouri
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