The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released a new movie to be shown during the endowment ceremony held at their temples, but you won't see this movie posted on Mormon Messages. That's because it's not intended to be shown outside the temple, and one must be a templeworthy Mormon to access an operational temple. For those readers unfamiliar with the endowment ceremony, an overview is provided on LDS Endowment, which is neither a pro-Mormon nor an anti-Mormon website.
Fear not, because the Deseret News published a brief story, while several other sources, namely Wheat & Tares and Jana Riess's truthfully-named Flunking Sainthood blog, provide additional background and perspective. The film is also discussed on the LDS Freedom Forum and on LDS.net.
Update August 13th: Since this post, there has been some additional important reaction published. Zomarah published a complete review of the movie without violating any covenants. Zomarah agrees that the new movie is an improvement, but thinks the casting still leaves much to be desired. On Adventures in Mormonism, Bruce F. Webster was sufficiently impressed that he teared up for the first time ever when watching a temple movie. Webster also rebuts Jana Riess' anti-racist propaganda about the film being "too white", stating that half of the eight actors (including Adam and especially Eve) look as though they come from Latin America, not Northern Europe. On Mormanity, Jeff Lindsay liked the acting, and noted that Eve was portrayed as much more of a real woman, a thinker, and a leader than in the past. And finally, on The Exponent, which is the more moderate and rational feminist Mormon blog, they conducted a poll and over two-thirds of respondents believe Eve was portrayed better than in the past.
For the most part, the Deseret News merely published the following official LDS Church statement from Ruth Todd, which triggered considerable commentary:
"The new temple film is the first update in more than 20 years. There have been no changes to the script. English-language copies of the new film are being sent to temples over the next few weeks and will subsequently be translated into other languages".
Wheat & Tares adds a few more details. The new movie adds about 15 minutes to the endowment ceremony, lengthening it from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. LDS officials found that as the Church introduced more temples to Africa, some African languages require more words to get explain the temple ceremony. So the Church modified the entire ceremony, allowing more pauses to accommodate the African Saints. This is all in keeping with the LDS Church's commitment to enable members to hear the Gospel in their own native languages whenever possible.
On Flunking Sainthood, Jana Riess does praise the LDS Church for striving to make the temple ceremony more accommodating to African Saints, since even though Mormonism is growing rapidly in Africa, retention of converts is reportedly low. However, Riess then offsets this by playing the race card and complaining about the fact that every single person in the movie is still White. Riess is one of those hard-left progressives who believe that equal outcome is necessary to validate equal opportunity, unmindful of the fact that the two can be mutually exclusive. As long as anti-racists like Jana Riess continually pick at the scabs, healing will never occur and progress towards a more Christ-like post-racial society will be inevitably delayed.
Some individual comments (after the jump):
KMarkP on August 4, 2013 at 2:22 PM (Wheat & Tares):
Actually I was very impressed by the new Endowment film. Everything from the musical score to the artwork was top class. I was also surprised to find actual acting going on by all the characters rather than just one as in previous films. Rather than being distracting, it gave a fresh new interpretation to the familiar script.
Which brings me to my one reservation. Unless they make several more films right away, or make new ones more frequently, there is a danger of this interpretation becoming the de facto official one. That’s one of the great things about the temple, in my opinion: The words are unchanging, but the interpretation can change with an individual’s needs and circumstances. I hope a single interpretation does not become standardized simply because of a single character’s line delivery or facial expression.
Zowieink » Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:54 pm (LDS Freedom Forum):
Well, had the opportunity of seeing the new presentation last night. It is awesome. No more plastic people with no emotion. It is very well acted. The creation series uses some of the Hubble Telescope pictures, the earth creation is much more realistic and in line with science, and there are very subtle changes in the dialogue. Adam and Eve are very well acted. They actually show emotion. It has always bothered me that Adam and Eve never showed surprise when Satan shows up, well, they do now. Like an ugly piece of litter in a beautiful garden. Adam and Eve also show great emotion when deciding to partake of the forbidden fruit (this is where some of the time addition takes place). Before, it was Oh, Yah, I guess I need to partake of the fruit. In the new film, you can see Eve thinking about the ramifications, and she actually cries when she says yes. Adam also shows great emotion in deciding to follow Eve and partake of the fruit. The dialogue uses phraseology and modulation to great effect, not just reading a script.
Satan is by far the best and most realistic depiction I've seen in any of the films.
Wonderful feeling as you journey with Adam and Eve through the decision making process. Voices are different, scenery is way different.
Much more spiritually oriented.
Zowieink » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:30 am (LDS Freedom Forum):
We were told, at the Mesa Temple, that the 2nd video [the previous video replaced by the new movie] was removed due to the fact that one of the ancillary actors came out of the closet and started promoting gay rights and telling others that he was on the temple film and that it was all a bunch of garbage and not true.
rzamor1 08-03-2013, 11:45 PM (LDS.net)
I had no idea that a new film came out this week. I usually attend the temple Tues at 6:00 am but I was attending a genealogy conference T-F so I couldn't get there until Sat morning. I had to wait 1.5 hrs at the Mt. Timpanogos Temple to get into a session. We were standing in the hall waiting to get in the chapel to even be in a session. This is when I learned of the new film and why so many were there. I also found out that the Provo and Draper Temples were closed for cleaning. So our temple was just being over-whelmed.
I usually sit in the front row during the endowments and this time I was in the back. So I got to see a lot of people going through the session that looked like they hadn't been there since the last film was brand new. If it takes the Church putting out a new temple film to get members to go to the temple then lets put out a new film every 5 years instead of 20.
I really appreciated this new version. I looked at several things in a different light just because of the presentation, acting, music and emphasis on it. I can't say I agree that the film is longer to help with possible translation. I just think it was longer due to good acting and the taking of time to set up the visuals. The dialog appears exactly the same.
What struck me is how the emphasis of teaching in their new presentation really fits with the issues and needs of members today. The loving, peaceful and beautiful way things are presented will really speak to the media savvy adults now receiving their endowments for the first time. It's just exciting to me to see how inspired our leaders are. The Church continues to grow and adapt to fit the needs of the saints, even though the message doesn't change.
The Church has done an excellent job. I have a feeling after the initial curiosity fact wears off we will still have a greater number of members going to the temple to do endowments. There is just so much peace and love in this new version and who wouldn't want to come out of the world and be enveloped in that. I'm going to have to get used to long waiting lines.