Sequel to the first "Work and the Glory," the American Zion is the second in what may be nine movies that follow the fictional Steed family, converts to Mormonism in their search for right to worship God as their hearts dictate. Author Gerald Lund's series of nine books sold over 2 million copies and so has a popular following. Financed by Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller, the first movie obviously made enough money to make the second worthwhile.
The problem in any fictionalization of history is that readers form images of real people that may be different than that portrayed in the fiction. Such is the case in this movie which portrays the prophet Joseph Smith, a well known character in history esteemed by Latter-day Saints. Most people who know his history have their own view of what the prophet was like. It doesn't always jive with the interpretation of the author or the movie-makers, no matter how good their research.
"When you hear him speak, you can see the fire in his eyes," says one of the characters about Joseph Smith. As good an acting job as Jonathan Scarfe does in portraying Joseph Smith, he still is unable to create the fire in the eyes. Probably no one could. That will always be the problem in fictionalization characters that in history are bigger than life.
For more information about this and other LDS films, go to http://www.ldsfilm.com/.