The link below is technically a review in Meridian Magazine for TWATG: A House Divided, but most of the article focuses on the seemingly dire fate of Mormon Cinema.
And, I think we must admit things look dire. Richard Dutcher’s films bombed thus causing him to abandon this love child he created while disowning the Mormon community; works like TWATG and the Other Side of Heaven, while being the most successful (comparitively) LDS films, yet were not able to pay back the investment; Halestorm are focusing on whatever “crossover” they can manage while also abandoning the LDS market; a stream of successive bad movies like The Book of Mormon Movie; investors like Larry Miller abandoning ship (and thus destroying what hopes there were of angel investors); and perhaps the biggest knock of all, the audience has become disinterested in a movement which they once seemed to think had a bit of promise.
However, there is that one bright glimmer in the distance: the prophecy. Spencer W. Kimball’s talk “The Gospel and the Arts.” He specifically mentions LDS Cinema. He mentions it on a grand scale, detailing the most powerful elements of LDS History. Now was this just wishful thinking on his part? Maybe– but I’m inclined to think not. I think not because I still think that this was more than a jaunty pep talk for LDS artists. I still feel the weight of prophecy ache in my bones whenever I read it.
Will its fulfillment happen in our lifetime? Maybe not. Maybe there will be a Renaissance of Mormon Art when we reach 100 million members or 500 million and the Mormon market is much larger and with more experience under its belt. Maybe it will take another 100 or 1000 years before Mormon Art really establishes its place (how much great art was the early Christian Church making not even 200 years within its inception?). Perhaps these are but the birthing pains, but we must wait until the child is fully grown before we can expect anything really powerful or history altering out of this movement. Perhaps these LDS film makers will be seen as pioneers, much like Parley P. Pratt, Eliza R, Snow, C.C. Christensen or Orson F. Whitney– writers and artists who may have not made many big splashes in the way of the artistic world, but who paved the way, laid the foundation for artists with more training, skill and opportunity to evetually take their place.
Or maybe not. Maybe the prophecy will be fulfilled sooner than that. Very soon. Whether sooner or later, if it truly is a prophetic destiny, then no matter how many false obituaries it is given, no matter how deep it is submerged, God’s will rises back above the waters. Perhaps its like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn attending their own funeral, laughing at the proceedings, when they are very much alive and well, just off doing their own thing until it is time for them to return.