A few months ago a friend shared with me a rumor concerning a forthcoming movie about the life of Emma Smith, the (first) wife of Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of Mormonism. This movie, he told me, had been approved by the First Presidency and was set for distribution in theaters. I was admittedly skeptical, due to the difficulty inherent in any historical presentation of her life, given the sanitized image that we have of her in the modern church.
Evidence supporting this rumor came earlier this week when another friend sent me the link to the movie trailer. It appears that many, if not most, of the same actors from the 2005 Church-produced Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration will also appear in Emma Smith: My Story. I have it from a good source that while this Emma movie is not directly funded by the Church, the studio has permission to use materials from Joseph Smith: A Really Great Guy, including clips, actors, costumes, sets, and props.
The trailer seems to follow the narrative of the Joseph Smith movie closely, while fleshing out scenes that were no doubt central to Emma’s life, such as her courtship of JS, her hardships suffered during the Church’s early persecutions, and the deaths of her children. The central theme seems to be her strength as an individual.
However, there does not seem to be any mention of JS’s polygamy and the strain that caused in her relationship with her husband. Neither does it seem that the movie will go past JS’s martyrdom in 1844, thereby ignoring her struggles with Brigham Young, the founding of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1860, and the subsequent debates with the Utah Church over whether or not JS was a polygamist. I realize that no movie can cover all the important aspects in a person’s life, but these are major events to leave out.
Of course we’ll need to wait until the actual movie comes out to pass final judgment. Despite my complaints, I applaud the Church for supporting these types of historical movies.