Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Buy The Testaments Today!

by Sariah S. Wilson

I wanted to blog tonight and encourage everyone who hasn't already to buy a copy of "The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd."

I watched it again last night - the first time I saw it was many years ago at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in SLC. I am one of those people who never, ever cries in movies. The Titanic was going down, everybody around me in the audience was wailing over poor Leo, and I couldn’t muster a single tear. But when I saw "Testaments" for the first time, I sobbed and sobbed.

I know that some filmmakers (*cough*RichardDutcher*cough*) slammed on “Testaments” for all sorts of reasons. I partly understand the urge to do that - now when I read a book I find myself tearing it apart as an author and not as a reader. I actually sort of miss the days when I could just enjoy myself without thinking, “Why did the author do that?” or “What a clever plot device!”

So, as I am not a sophisticated filmmaker, I enjoy all sorts of movies (including all of Richard Dutcher’s). When I first saw “Testaments,” I went with my extended family (on both sides). One of the people with me was a relative who is no longer a member of the Church (although raised in it). “Testaments” was so powerful, I was so moved by the end, that I was very thankful that they left the lights off so that I could try to compose myself before I had to leave. My relative sat next to me and while I’m sitting there with this enormous lump in my throat, mascara running down my face, my chest hurting from crying, she says, “Well, wasn’t that a nice movie?” I was stunned to discover that it hadn’t touched her at all. I remember how shocked I felt that we had just had the exact same experience, but had come out of it at total opposite ends.

So when “Testaments” became available on DVD, I had to buy it. Fortunately, one of my visiting teachers had gone to and discovered that you could buy a case of 30 DVDs for $1.50 each. I told her to put me down for seven. We’ve been giving away the DVDs to friends and family. My husband actually had a neat experience because of it on Easter Sunday. He felt prompted to visit a woman that he home teaches (who is also a friend of mine). We went as a family right after Church to give her a copy of the DVD. I should mention that it was a freezing day, and none of us had coats. As we rushed back to the car, a man was sitting out on his stoop smoking. He greeted my husband, wishing him a Happy Easter, and my husband returned the greeting. We got back to the car and my husband stopped, and said, “I’m supposed to give him a copy of the movie.” He grabbed one of the DVDs and went back to talk to the man. The man told him that he had actually been visited by the missionaries before and had recently been looking for a church to join, and could he come with us the next Sunday? (Needless to say, the missionaries were giddy.)

So I decided last night to watch the DVD again. My oldest son had been just a baby the last time we saw it. I thought surely, this time, I could get through the movie without turning into a mess.

What I found was that it certain parts affected me differently than they had in the past. I had a hard time with a lot of the costume choices and some of the set designs knowing what I know about ancient American peoples. I also found myself a little more impatient with the BoM fictional aspect of it - because I loved the scenes with Christ and wanted them to hurry up and get back to those.

I found the scene where the father brings his young child, a child who is racked with seizures and pain, to Christ and asks Jesus to heal him nearly overwhelming. I don’t remember it affecting me that way the first time I saw it. But as the father handed that child to Jesus, and asked him, “Help thou mine unbelief,” I lost it. I have a child that I struggle with on almost a daily basis because of his disability. I know the anguish that father felt. I know the desperation and hope that a cure could be found. I know the helplessness you feel as you are unable to help your child get better.

Despite that scene, I thought I would be ready for the end. I wouldn’t be surprised this time - I know how it ended. But the actor who plays Helam, the look on his face when he recognizes the voice, it is beyond words. No writer could capture that expression the way a filmmaker could. It touched me exactly the same way and I cried just as hard watching it in the privacy of my home as I had in the theater. I rewound it and watched it again, determined that this time I wouldn’t cry, and I still did. It’s amazing.

So, I’ve decided to give away one of my copies of “Testaments” to anyone who posts a comment in this blog's comment section. I’ll pull a winner next Saturday morning and put up the winner’s name, and you’ll need to contact me so that we can get everything worked out. If you need a topic - post about whether you’ve seen the movie already and what you thought of it, or if you haven’t seen it and now have a desperate desire to do so because it’s the movie that makes Sariah cry.


At 4/22/2007 12:46 AM, Blogger ChillyGator said...

I'm commenting not because I need a DVD (we've been getting them as gifts and have a few...which is fun) but because I worked at Legacy Theater for 2 years or so and saw The Testaments many, many times. If I worked late I'd sometimes go see the 9 o'clock showing because I loved it that much.

Anyway, I'd always, always cry when we'd get to the end and Christ says "Helum, arise." Yes, every single time I would cry.

Beautiful movie. I loved it and am so excited you're giving it out and want to hear if anything happens with him with the missionaries teaching him.

At 4/22/2007 11:26 AM, Anonymous kerry said...

I'm posting to agree with Kristy! I saw Testaments on a monthly basis when my husband worked across the street from the Legacy theater. (My son saw it almost weekly. Or maybe he was going to see Kristy, now that I think about it. :-) At any rate, it is my favorite movie of all time!

I bought six (at retail price) when I was in St. George. The next week was my birthday and five friends from Mesa and West Jordan sent me . . . you guessed it . . . Testatment. They couldn't have come up with anything I love more. (I can't even think of anything to "critique" about it.) I'm back down to two copies now, so I'm glad to hear where I can order more!

At 4/22/2007 11:18 PM, Blogger Josi said...

I bought it as soon as I saw it in stores and we watched it Easter Sunday. It will be a tradition from here on out. It was the perfect start to the day.

I've heard plenty of complaints, but the spirit of it is unavoidably to me. Great blog!

At 4/23/2007 6:47 AM, Blogger Mindi said...

I saw it years ago on a trip to Utah but haven't seen it since so I really don't remember much about it at all, except that it made me cry. And I'm much like Sariah and don't cry, not even when Bambi's mom died.

At 4/23/2007 9:49 AM, Blogger G. Parker said...

I want it! Pick me! LOL I was sad when I heard all the back and forth about the film industry and how some are even critical about Keith Merrell (sorry if I'm spelling it wrong) and how he was the one that wrote those movies...sigh. But the point is, the spirit is there. If you are touched (and we all were who saw it in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building) then you know there has been a good work done. I'm sure there were many aspects about the life during the BOM that made you groan, but you still liked/enjoyed/were touched by the ending. That's the whole point.
Good blog.

At 4/23/2007 1:56 PM, Blogger Karen Hoover said...

I have a sister-in-law who has always been very anti against the church and we took her to see it several years back. She was very obviously touched by the end and hasn't been nearly so antagonistic since. Whether perfect or not, the movie is full of the spirit, and that makes it valuable in its own right. I hadn't realized it was out on DVD yet. Thanks for letting us know and sharing your experience, Sariah. Very nice blog.

At 4/23/2007 3:44 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

I'm withdrawing from consideration for this prize since I just won the totally cool Frog Fun Pack, but I had to post a comment.

I am also a non-crier who bawled at the end. I love that last line. Haven't read what the criticisms are of this movie, but I didn't see anything that bothered me.

Makes me wonder, when a movie's spirit is this strong, if people who are uncomfortable with that spirit just have to try to tear it down...?

At 4/24/2007 1:46 PM, Anonymous anothernonymous said...

I don't need to be in the drawing.

I wanted to say it's funny how different people react to different scenes in that film. I wonder sometimes if the filmmaker anticipated it or afterwards regretted the way the shoot was done. I'm in the Young Men's program in an inner city branch and we showed the movie to the boys as the activity last week. When the part that brought you to tears came up (the boy suffering from seizures) - these boys completely cracked up. I couldn't believe it. Perhaps it was so foreign to them that their reaction was "why is he acting that way?" in their juvenile minds.

The other scene I recall is when word spreads to the family that Christ has appeared and the daughter tells her monkey about it. In effect she says "the Savior has come! Stay here while we go see him". In the audiences I've seen the movie with at the Legacy Theater, everyone laughed. (Aren't pets special enough to be present when the Lord visits?). I anticipated the same reaction of laughter from the boys last week but there was none (in fact, some of them had fallen asleep). Oh well ...

At 4/24/2007 3:27 PM, Blogger Sabrina2u said...

I too loved the movie. I didn't realize it was out on DVD yet.
So put me in the drawing. I have a teenage daughter who is struggling with the church, and she doesn't come to church on sundays with us. But I recently found a piece of paper on her floor when I went in to put her clean laundry in her room, (I know I shouldn't have looked at it) and it was some answers from a quiz in seminary and her answers astounded me. I really do believe that she does have a testimony, but doesn't have the courage to live the gospel right now.
I guess I need to get the DVD and play it at home and invite her to watch it with me.

I can't wait to read your "Secrets in Zarahemla"

At 4/24/2007 7:17 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Hey there,

No need to send me a copy -- in fact, there's a copy less than three feet away from me right now. :)

I don't care what any *expert* says about this film -- it's deeply moving, even with the white people painted brown (I've always hated that. There are scads of talented Polynesian actors -- why do we have to start painting people? It makes a mock of the Polynesian culture)

Anyway, I went to see this film with my husband and we both came away completely in tears, a regular shambles. We were so in awe of the love our Savior has for us and so filled with gratitude for all He did. This is truly a remarkable film.

At 4/26/2007 6:25 PM, Blogger The Casual Geek said...

I'm a "reformed" movie-cryer. I stopped crying in movies for the longest time (long story, but it involves me as a young child watching "Snoopy Come Home"), but have recently "allowed" myself to go ahead and cry again.

Anyway, I got a little teary just remembering that scene with Helam at the end (just now)...


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