Latter-day Saint Life

PBS Docudrama Depicting Joseph Smith's Life and Narrated by Gregory Peck to Air This Weekend


Thanks to Deseret News for making us aware of this story.

This Sunday, a new docudrama, Joseph Smith: American Prophet, depicting the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith will air on TV.

The original PBS documentary aired November of 1999, but this new remake will be shown nationally in October.

With Academy-Award winning actor Gregory Peck narrating the documentary, the docudrama features reenactments of significant events as well as interviews with LDS apostles.  

The film includes interviews with several historians to help portray the story in an accurate, unbiased way, including Joseph Smith Papers' Editor Ronald K. Esplin, Harvard University's Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and Washington University's Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp.

In addition to historians, the movie includes two interviews from members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder M. Russell Ballard.

"He was a man without any political or administrative experience. He was a man without money. He struggled to support his family throughout his life. He was a man with no background to lead one to believe that he'd be able to found a church, establish a doctrinal foundation, assemble remarkable people to be leaders in that church, send missionaries to different corners of the earth and lead the church from one place to another under immense persecution," Elder Oaks said in the film, according to Deseret News.

Actor John Foss, who plays Joseph Smith, tells Deseret News, “This film touches on a lot of things without diving too deep, but I think it presents an interesting case on Joseph Smith and is a good introduction for people who don’t really know a lot about him.”

The story depicts many aspects of Joseph Smith’s life, including The First Vision, seeing the gold plates, and his martyrdom. However, it also includes many new insights the 1999 film was not able to include, like information from The Joseph Smith Papers and Richard L. Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling.

In addition, citing journal entries and scholarly interviews, audiences will see dramatized scenes of Joseph translating the Book of Mormon by looking at a seer stone in a hat, being pulled out of his home at night to be tarred and feathered, shivering in Liberty Jail, speaking to his wife about polygamy, and being martyred at Carthage Jail, among other scenes, according to Deseret News.

The movie will air on KBYU on Sunday, October 1 at 2 p.m.; Sunday, November 12 at 1 p.m.; Monday, November 6 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, December 3 at 4:30 p.m. Click here to see showtimes around the country.

Watch the trailer below or on YouTube.

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Video Companion

Lead image a screenshot from movie trailer

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