August 24, 2011

17 Miracles, the summer sensation

I viewed 17 Miracles in a theater while in Utah for the LDS Booksellers convention a couple of weeks ago.  I had heard so much about it, including how after its release in June regional attendance for this movie in Utah was beating all the other summer blockbusters and how theaters in Utah, Idaho & Arizona kept adding more screens as the summer went on to handle the demand.  Word of mouth was obviously a strong factor, so I wanted to see what the buzz was about as we would have the movie on DVD & Blu-ray in the store on September 13, 2011.

I attended with my son & his wife, and we got there a little late and had to sit in the front as the theater was almost full.  We have heard a lot about the Willie & Martin handcart companies and their tragedies, and I was concerned that I might find the movie a little bit of a downer.  While the film pulled no punches and coming prepared with tissue is definitely advised, I found the movie an inspiring tear-jerker instead of depressing one.  The story focuses on the miracles that transpired during the handcart journey as told mostly through the viewpoint of Levi Savage who, while returning to Utah from a mission to Siam, met the company coming from England in New York and was recruited to be a captain as they desperately needed his pioneering experience.  He was opposed to starting so late in the season season but pledged to help all that he could.  All his fears came true, but the miracles that occurred along the way showed that the hand of the Lord was over the company.  I was most struck by the sacrifices that were made to help each other and by the expressions of gratitude amidst severe trials for the privilege of sacrificing to come to Zion.  We truly came to care about and admire these characters.  As far as the acting was concerned, all I can say is I wasn't noticing the acting as I became too involved in the story--usually a sign of excellent acting.  Below is a link to the trailer.

After the movie, we spent quite a while talking about it and googling George Paddley & Sarah Ann Franks to find out what happened later.  I can't share what we found out without being a spoiler, but I would be happy to share with anyone who has seen the movie the amazing "rest of the story."  I can definitely recommend this movie as worth seeing.  It is rated PG and is appropriate for probably age 10 & up.   Click here to go to our website & read more.  Prepurchases through September 12 benefit the BYU Management Society Silicon Valley chapter scholarship fund.

August 19, 2011

The Work, Nashville Tribute to the Missionaries Release Concert

While I was in Utah for the LDS Booksellers Convention the first week of August, I attended the release concert for the Nashville Tribute Band's newest album, The Work, A Nashville Tribute to the Missionaries, at the Sandy Amphitheater.  I'm not a real fan of country music in general but had come to enjoy Nashville Tribute's previous album honoring the pioneers (Trek).  There was the usual electric feel that comes with a live performance, but when they opened with "Children, Go Where I Send Thee," I was hooked.  Jason Deere was the announcer and shared many of the stories behind the songs.  There were many inspiring songs, many of which got the audience clapping, but the title song The Work made you want to clap and stomp your feet.  It was an amazing experience to feel the spirit in such circumstances.  
We experienced a thunderstorm downpour during three songs in the first half of the performance, but instead of dampening the enthusiasm, it seemed to energize the crowd as we watched the stage hands move the speakers under cover. Special guest performances at the concert (and on the CD) include David Osmond, The Jets and Billy Dean.  Michael McLean also come to help perform a song he co-wrote with Jason Deere.  Having seen these songs performed in person, I now appreciate them even more as I listen to the CD while driving around in the car.  
I actually got to meet some of these amazing performers at the convention before the concert, and they signed a CD for me.  The core band members are all successful LDS country music performers and/or songwriters.  Songwriter Jason Deere is the moving force behind their coming together to write and perform music honoring Joseph Smith, the pioneer and now missionary work.  Some other band members for The Work include Katherine Nelson, Due West, and Dan and Ben Truman and Ryan Innes.  This definitely was one of the highlights of my LDSBA convention experience.