Book of Mormon – Videos and Movies


Traveler

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One of the first things I thought I noticed during my visit to Jerusalem and the Holy Land – is what seems to me to be the inaccuracies in various depictions of culture, traditions and ancient settings.  I do not want to take away from efforts in the artistic community to touch on deeply spiritual things of scripture – but I think (from my perspective) the art work, movies and videos just do not seem that authentic.   However, for me this is not a great distraction but in reality build upon my belief in the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith to bring us the Book of Mormon.  In short if experts with all the advantages of experience and resources cannot impress – it lends to the power of an uneducated farm boy requiring divine direction to produce such an icon of religious change as is the Book of Mormon.

With this said I would comment on the new Videos produced by the Church – the Book of Mormon Videos.  I will begin with the family personality of Lehi.  I feel that as the story of Lehi opens up – that Lehi is mistakenly depicted as this older – somewhat inept and senile old codger bumbling through life.  As we open to Jerusalem at this time – I see Lehi as a brilliant and vibrant business man – most likely a merchant with vast intellectual skills and foreign connection.  I see him as very well educated and master of several languages and skilled in literate abilities (reading and writing).  I view Lehi likely as younger, as in his late 30’s and no older than mid 40’s.  I believe him to be wealthy, powerful in the community and very fit – that comes from being self-made and successful.  I believe he could easily hold his own in a fight – but I do not see him as someone that wandered through the streets of Jerusalem by himself – I see him as someone that went about with servants – and all were armed and trained for combat.

I see Laman and Lemual as out of the same mold as their father.  I do not seem them as such bad guys in the beginning.  I see them also as younger than usually depicted – late teens or perhaps early 20’s.  I do not see them as such bad guys – except for their focus on the family business.  I see them as caught up with being successful and making money

I see Nephi as a kid – perhaps as young as 14.  But Nephi is very big for his age – as big as his older brothers.  I also see Nephi as somewhat of an athletic freak that physically intimidates his brothers (even his oldest brother would not physically take on Nephi by himself) but I also see him as somewhat of a gentle giant with an overly tender heart.  In addition I see Nephi as someone that lacked the business sense of his father and brothers.  So I see Nephi as this kid that was big enough to intimidate his brothers but focused on things that left his oldest brothers thinking he was not as fit to run the family business.

At to the prophets (including Lehi) calling the people to repentance.  I do not see this happening in the streets of Jerusalem.  Rather I see an open area on the grand steps leading to the temple.  I see this as a vast public forum where people went to get the local and world news.  Many speak out and offer their opinions on things.  I see Lehi there offering strong opinion about the events going on.  I see Lehi saying specific things about specific stuff.  I do not see people picking up stones – mostly I see people listening a bit – some agreeing and some not so much.  But I also see what I would call political spies that take note of Lehi and go and report to some very powerful political types.  It is these political types that do not like what Lehi is saying – most of the “common” people do not care that much.  But I see these powerful types contacting Lehi through their servants and telling Lehi to tone things down a bit or to stop – OR ELSE! 

Of course Lehi does not tone it down at all but realizes other, like him, are being taken out – one by one.  But Lehi is determined and passionate and has no intention of letting up.  It is then he receives divine instruction to leave Jerusalem.  Laman and Lemual are somewhat taken by their father’s willing to let the family business fail – but they do respect their father enough to do as told – they just do not understand.  One last thing.  I believe it quite possible that Lehi takes with him some of his servants as the family departs.

Anyway these are my thought – I hope others will share their thoughts. 

Thanks

 

The Traveler

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28 minutes ago, Traveler said:

I view Lehi likely as younger, as in his late 30’s and no older than mid 40’s.  I believe him to be wealthy, powerful in the community and very fit – that comes from being self-made and successful.  I believe he could easily hold his own in a fight – but I do not see him as someone that wandered through the streets of Jerusalem by himself – I see him as someone that went about with servants – and all were armed and trained for combat.

I would guess that he was about 50 and his wife was about 40. Based on the fact that marriages were arranged back then and she would have been around 15 or 16 when she was married and he was probably in his early to mid 20's. I would love to see a drama about Jerusalem at this time. Perhaps a film about Jeremiah that includes, eventually the story of Lehi. Kind of a bridge between the two stories.

I like the idea of Lehi having servants that protect his caravan's. I could see Laman and Lemual being irritated when their father asks them to leave their comfort, wealth and these servants, in order to travel into the desert alone.

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I appreciate your thoughts, Traveler. Mine are much the same, though I see Nephi as being much younger, perhaps as young as 10-12 when he witnesses his father first coming home after his vision. I'm supposing he was twelve or thirteen when they left Jerusalem, and no older than maybe 15 when the ugliness with Laban took place. In every video depiction I've seen, I think Nephi has been portrayed as much older than he really was. He was not much more than a child, and on the cusp of manhood, when he and his brothers dealt with Laban. His precocious size coupled with his remarkable spiritual sensitivity were what allowed him to survive the encounter.

Clearly, Sariah could not have been older than her mid to late 30s—40 as an outside maximum—when they left Jerusalem, because she had at least two more children in the desert. If Laman was her oldest child and if he were born when Sariah was, let's say, only 18, that would make him probably in his later teens when they left, surely no older than his very early 20s at absolute maximum.

I have no problem believing Lehi may have been somewhat older, though the common depiction of him being an old man (and a doddering fool) by the time he fled Jerusalem is clearly untenable. He might have been as young as 40, and surely no older than mid-50s. The latter figure would put him probably somewhere around 70 when he died, which I find very believable. We aren't told of Sariah's death, but it seems pretty safe to assume she outlived Lehi and fled with Nephi's group when they left their first "land of promise".

Edited by Vort
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Can I just say the most annoying thing about the new films are the depiction of Nephi as a 24 year old football player sized man. Also, why must Rick Macy play. . .Every. . .Single. . .Father. . . in church films? He is not that good and there are many good actors that could play this role better than he does.

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I have not been impressed with any theatrical production of the church other than a live session at the SLC temple wherein a gruff middle aged guy played Satan and did a masterful job.  His only embellishment to the wardrobe was flipping up the collar of his suit.   Every time I go to the temple and the movie with the Sleeve Satan starts playing I have to stop myself from laughing.

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Something to add - It is my understanding that the family of Lehi followed in essence the ancient trade route of the frankincense through the Arabian peninsula.   This is a most difficult trail of many dangers - which was one reason that frankincense was so valuable and expensive.  Both the Greeks and Romans mad efforts to control that trade route and failed.  I have not found any record of the Egyptians trying to control that area - the point here is that none of the great civilizations were able to conquer that region.  

I have speculated that Lehi may have had some connections and were able to supplement their journey on occasions with language skills.  The Book of Mormon says that they traveled through the "More Fertile" regions.  These regions were populated in ancient times but were ruled by city states and tribal leaders.  I have wondered that part of the reason it took them so long to travel this area was because they made stops and connections.

Some reasons that I consider that Lehi may have taken servants is because some claim that with the numbers given in the two families - that the populations of the resultant nations could not have grown so quickly.  Bring servants along would have solved that problem.  We also see that as the Nephite nation grew - direct decedents of Nephi were not as common as one would have thought.

 

The Traveler

 

 

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22 hours ago, Vort said:

I appreciate your thoughts, Traveler. Mine are much the same, though I see Nephi as being much younger, perhaps as young as 10-12 when he witnesses his father first coming home after his vision. I'm supposing he was twelve or thirteen when they left Jerusalem, and no older than maybe 15 when the ugliness with Laban took place.

What scriptural reference are you using to depict the years between Nephi leaving Jerusalem
and the Laban ugliness? (killing I presume ...)

Cheers

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On 1/15/2020 at 10:31 AM, Traveler said:

I view Lehi likely as younger, as in his late 30’s and no older than mid 40’s. 

Maybe.  Her certainly may have been.

I think there is a tendency and stereotype to picture Old Testament prophets (or Old Testament time period prophets such as Lehi) as old.    They are typically have long beards, gray hair, and are old.   This seems to be the stereotype whether or not is was true.

Even in Church artwork that is on our Church website Lehi is portrayed in this way (this is supposed to be in Jerusalem before they left):

441-many-prophets.jpg

It seems that all Old Testament era prophets are protrayed in the same way when it comes to artwork and media.  

The Book of Mormon seems to indicate that Lehi and Sariah conceived and birthed at least four new children in the desert after fleeing Jerusalem, so that makes me guess that they were at least fairly young. The Book of Mormon also says that they were sticken in years which means they weren't too young.   40's sounds about right to me, but that's only a guess.

Edited by Scott
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I have to say that the historical accuracy didn’t bug me nearly as much as the intensified 1 Nephi 3:7 scene where the orchestra began to swell as Nephi uttered those famous words.

It would have been far more powerful had Nephi just said those words as a faithful disciple and not as a glorified one liner.

I really hope they don’t do that with Moroni 10:3-5 and other popular scriptures 

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29 minutes ago, Scott said:

Maybe.  Her certainly may have been.

I think there is a tendency and stereotype to picture Old Testament prophets (or Old Testament time period prophets such as Lehi) as old.    They are typically have long beards, gray hair, and are old.   This seems to be the stereotype whether or not is was true.

Even in Church artwork that is on our Church website Lehi is portrayed in this way (this is supposed to be in Jerusalem before they left):

441-many-prophets.jpg

It seems that all Old Testament era prophets are protrayed in the same way when it comes to artwork and media.  

The Book of Mormon seems to indicate that Lehi and Sariah conceived and birthed at least four new children in the desert after fleeing Jerusalem, so that makes me guess that they were at least fairly young. The Book of Mormon also says that they were sticken in years which means they weren't too young.   40's sounds about right to me, but that's only a guess.

Since you are well traveled - in busy traffic areas - if someone is saying what other's do not like to hear -- they will be ignored.  Places and formats of forms where ideas are intended to be exchanged - are quite different.  Even on this forum - say something that someone does not like and you will get a lot of attention - much more than if you say something they like.  Very few (like zero) artists seem to understand a form from an artistic point of view - I say this even as a son of an artist.  I had discussions with my father who would say that artwork is not a historical depiction but rather a symbolic reference intended to create more feelings from the viewers than to display practical events.  I would argue with my dad that accuracy can be as powerful or more so than artistic license.   His response to me was always - okay, then you create the art.  That is not going to happen - I cannot take even an identifiable picture of much more than my finger.

 

The Traveler

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44 minutes ago, Fether said:

I have to say that the historical accuracy didn’t bug me nearly as much as the intensified 1 Nephi 3:7 scene where the orchestra began to swell as Nephi uttered those famous words.

It would have been far more powerful had Nephi just said those words as a faithful disciple and not as a glorified one liner.

I really hope they don’t do that with Moroni 10:3-5 and other popular scriptures 

I agree with you, but the writers and directors and producers are in a bad situation. They have to appeal to a wide audience, from scripture-savvy "scriptorians" to brand new members with no scriptural background at all to little children to people who barely know anything about Jesus Christ or his Church. A modern 21st-century audience is used to having certain audio and visual cues that tell them when something important is happening. The orchestral swell may sound hammy and overwrought to your (and my) ears, but many people would miss the significance and importance of the utterance if it weren't underlined in some way.

One thing I have long valued about the temple presentation, at least up until a few years ago when the "new" endowment films were released, was the understated way that they tended to give the dialogue. Very few real histrionics, mostly people talking in measured voices. It allowed you to build your own mental representation of what was going on. (I do believe that's what the First Presidency is trying to get back to, but that's only my opinion.)

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1 hour ago, Vort said:

agree with you, but the writers and directors and producers are in a bad situation. They have to appeal to a wide audience, from scripture-savvy "scriptorians" to brand new members with no scriptural background at all to little children to people who barely know anything about Jesus Christ or his Church. A modern 21st-century audience is used to having certain audio and visual cues that tell them when something important is happening. The orchestral swell may sound hammy and overwrought to your (and my) ears, but many people would miss the significance and importance of the utterance if it weren't underlined in some way.

One thing I have long valued about the temple presentation, at least up until a few years ago when the "new" endowment films were released, was the understated way that they tended to give the dialogue. Very few real histrionics, mostly people talking in measured voices. It allowed you to build your own mental representation of what was going on. (I do believe that's what the First Presidency is trying to get back to, but that's only my opinion.)

Never thought about that, and I think that is spot on.

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The only thing I recall that we are told of Lehi and Sariah’s age was on the ship sailing to the promised land. The record states that they were stricken with years (1 Nephi 18:17) and that they had grey hairs (1 Nephi 18:18). They also had “young” children. 
 

The record states that they had wandered in the wilderness for 8 years (1 Nephi 17:4) prior to their start of the ship building process and gathering of provisions for the ship. We are not given information as to how long the building and gathering processes took. 
 

Anything else would really be our own presumptions. 
 

In terms of the Book of Mormon videos, are we really going to keep having discussions of how the book was better? 🤓 

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This is not about the movie - but about paintings - including the famous  Arnold Friberg painting.  The particular character - Abinadi; is always depicted as a old guy.  I have pondered this and I think there is a subconscious intent that because he is put to death - old guys are more expendable and easier to sacrifice.  And so I have wondered if it would modify how we think of Abinadi and his sacrifice had he been much younger - with young wife and small children - especially an infant child - all left behind to fulfill a call.  BTW it was not uncommon in the early church of this dispensation for men in their 20's and 30's to be called on missions (Mormon Battalion) not knowing if they would see their young wife or children again.

And the stripling warriors - I calculate that they were perhaps 13.  So the next time you see deacons passing the sacrament in your ward - think of how parents would feel about sending them off to war -- and their chances of surviving.

It is said that we stand on the shoulders of great ancestors and heritage.   I wonder how our generation will be remembered?

Anyway some thoughts.

 

The Traveler

Edited by Traveler
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