Summary: “September Dawn” is a historical drama film based on actual events that transpired in Utah in 1857. Directed by Christopher Cain and released in 2007, the film provides a fictionalized account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Despite receiving mixed reviews, it has gained a cult following and has recently made its way onto streaming platforms for a new generation to discover.
1. The Historical Event
The Mountain Meadows Massacre was a significant event in American history, yet it remains largely unknown to many people. In September of 1857, a group of Arkansas emigrants traveling westward through Utah were massacred on the Mountain Meadows, just north of St. George. The perpetrators were a group of Mormon militia members and Native American allies who aimed to stop the emigrants from reaching California. The massacre resulted in the deaths of approximately 120 men, women, and children. The causes and motivations behind the massacre are contested and remain a subject of debate among historians to this day.
Some argue that the massacre was a result of religious and cultural tensions between the Mormons and non-Mormons in the area. Others point to political factors, such as the tense relationship between the Mormons and the federal government at the time. Regardless of the underlying causes, the massacre was a brutal and tragic event that left an indelible mark on American history.
2. The Making of “September Dawn”
“September Dawn” was a passion project for director Christopher Cain, whose own family history is intertwined with the events of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Cain spent years researching the massacre and the period in which it took place, working with a team of historians to ensure that the film was as historically accurate as possible while still remaining engaging and accessible to audiences.
The film stars a mix of established actors, such as Jon Voight and Terence Stamp, and up-and-coming talents such as Trent Ford and Tamara Hope. The actors underwent extensive training to prepare for their roles, including learning how to ride horses and handle firearms. The film was shot on location in Utah, adding to its authenticity.
3. The Controversy Surrounding the Film
Upon its release in 2007, “September Dawn” was met with mixed reviews from critics. Some praised the film’s attention to historical detail and powerful performances, while others criticized it for being overly melodramatic and biased against the Mormon Church. The film also faced controversy for its portrayal of Brigham Young, who is depicted as ordering the massacre in the film.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement condemning the film, calling it “historically inaccurate and grossly irresponsible.” The controversy surrounding the film only served to heighten interest among audiences, however, and it has gained a cult following in the years since its release.
4. The Presence on Streaming Platforms
“September Dawn” may not have been a hit upon its initial release, but it has found new life on streaming platforms in recent years. The film is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video and other platforms, introducing a new generation to this important and controversial chapter of American history.
Streaming has made films like “September Dawn” more accessible than ever before, allowing viewers to discover films that they might not have otherwise encountered. While the film may not be for everyone, its presence on streaming platforms ensures that it will continue to be a part of the cultural conversation for years to come.
“September Dawn” may be a fictionalized account of historical events, but it nonetheless provides a powerful and nuanced portrayal of a tragic moment in American history. The film’s attention to detail and strong performances make it an engaging watch for anyone interested in history, while its controversial subject matter ensures that it remains a topic of debate and discussion to this day. With the film now available on streaming platforms, a new generation has the opportunity to discover this important piece of cinema.