The Work and the Glory (film)
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The Work and the Glory is a 2004 historical fiction drama film directed by Russell Holt. It tells the story of the fictional Steed family in the 1820s and their struggles trying to adopt the then-new Mormon religion and explores their relationship with their community, with its founder, Joseph Smith and the rest of the Smith family.
This movie is based on the first novel by Gerald N. Lund in the nine-part The Work and the Glory series. The first novel is titled Pillar of Light, so this film is sometimes given that prefix (i.e. Pillar of Light: The Work and the Glory), but the prefix does not appear anywhere in the film itself. However, Pillar of Light: The Work and the Glory was the working title for the film.[no citations needed here]
The Steed family moves from their Vermont settlement to upstate New York to set up a farm. Benjamin, the father, hires two local boys, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, recommended by Martin Harris, a prominent figure of the Latter Day Saint movement.
Joseph and Hyrum are hard workers, but eschewed by some town members, put off by their claims of seeing a vision and they will receive a "Gold Bible".
The Steeds' oldest son, Joshua, is quickly swayed by the town's people and encourages his father to fire them. Joshua has a falling out with his father and leaves home. He finds work at the town's port, but adopts the habits of his friends and becomes a drunkard. He courts Lydia McBride, but her father disapproves. The Steeds' younger son, Nathan, believes Joseph's story. He meets Lydia while trying to contact his brother. Benjamin ends his employment of the Smith boys, believing his association with them is detrimental to his family's reputation.
Joshua and his friends learn Joseph is about to receive the "Gold Bible" (the Golden Plates) and set up a plan to ambush him and steal the gold. Lydia learns of their plan and warns the Steed family, who then warn the Smith family. They arrive at the Smith home just before Joseph does (though he was attacked, he retained the plates and is relatively unharmed). Learning of the attack, Benjamin and Nathan head into town to find Joshua. Finding him at his usual haunt, the local bar, Benjamin confronts him. Joshua is standoffish, but doesn't deny he and his friends attacked Joseph. A fight breaks out between Benjamin and Joshuan, though no serious injuries are inflicted. The confrontation results in Joshua fleeing the town and becoming an outlaw, eventually settling in Missouri.
With Joshua gone, Nathan and Lydia's relationship grows and strengthens. In order to receive permission to marry Nathan, Lydia must attend a private school in Boston for a year, but Nathan uses this time to purchase his own land and build his own home. However he becomes a member of the Latter-Day Saint movement established by Joseph, which infuriates McBride's father, and he demands she break her engagement to him. She flees from the school before completing the requisite year.
At the edge of the Frontier, Joshua learns of his brother's engagement to Lydia, for whom he still holds a torch. He returns to Palmyra and confronts Nathan. After a squabble, Lydia herself declares that she loves Nathan and would never return to Joshua. He flees again as the town's law enforcement has a warrant for his arrest. Lydia confronts Nathan, asking him who he loves more, her or the new gospel. Because he is unable to deny either, she breaks with him. Nathan writes a letter to Lydia, trying to win her back and delivering her a copy of the Book of Mormon. Her father, however, finds it before she receives it and discards it in the trash.
Benjamin has been suspicious of Joseph and his religion, but his family intrigued by him and try to learn more, but Benjamin has forbidden mention of Joseph's name or the religion. After a confrontation with Nathan, he reconsiders his decision and agrees to allow the family to investigate Joseph's church if they need to.
Nathan takes his sisters and his mother to one of Joseph's meetings and are baptized. While they are gone, Lydia discovers Nathan's discarded letter and book. Defying her parents, she visits Nathan's in-construction home and studies his Book of Mormon gift. Nathan returns to his farm to find a note from Lydia that quotes Ruth 1:16–17. He also finds Lydia there who accepts his proposal.
The Work and the Glory currently maintains a 17% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is Mormon cinema's 2nd biggest box office hit and the second LDS film to top 3 million viewers in theaters. The Other Side of Heaven is the other film to do so.
- The Work and the Glory: American Zion — 2005 sequel.
Unless otherwise noted, the information in this article is from the DVD release of this film.