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Emma Smith Movie Review by LdsNana-AskMormon

Updated on September 9, 2015

Emma Hale Smith 1802-1879

Emma Smith during the years she was married to the prophet Joseph Smith, played by Katherine Nelson Thompson.
Emma Smith during the years she was married to the prophet Joseph Smith, played by Katherine Nelson Thompson.

How was the Movie, Emma Smith - My Story? Did I Like The Movie?

This movie Emma Smith- My Story, of which the LDS Church collaborated on, was released in April. Due to limited release of the Emma Smith movie, I had to wait until June - to finally experience this movie for myself. Until now, I have been left to depend on what others who had opportunity to see the movie, either prior to it's release - or early on when first released, as the sources that I have used to write my other article here on Hubpages about the movie Emma Smith - My Story!

Emma Smith - My Story: Mormons Are Now, Telling Their Own History!

Those whose reviews I have read and used previously as my sources for information about the Emma Smith movie, have been quite vague in how they have reviewed this movie. I may feel this way, because I am more interested in the experience of the movie, rather than the technical aspects and those things that a professional critic would analyze. Personally, now that I have seen the movie Emma Smith - My Story, for myself... I feel that most of the reviews that have been written about this movie have been, to put it simply --- patronizing. Nice. Even polite.

I had anticipated, as a member of the LDS Church and a Mormon woman, the release of Emma Smith - My Story, for a number of reason. Not the least of them, the critical feelings about Emma Smith and the decisions she made throughout her life, that have been judged quite harshly. These critics have residence inside and outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. After seeing this movie, it is my opinion - that every LDS female needs to find a theater and see the movie Emma Smith - My Story, and drag her LDS male associates with her, even if kicking and screaming. This is not a chick-flick.

Emma Smith - My Story: A Candlelight Production of Historical Importance...

Katherine Nelson Thompson and Nathan Mitchell portray Emma Smith and Joseph Smith Jr. in the movie "Emma Smith: My Story.
Katherine Nelson Thompson and Nathan Mitchell portray Emma Smith and Joseph Smith Jr. in the movie "Emma Smith: My Story.

Movie Review of Emma Smith: My Story - From LdsNana-AskMormon's Perspective...

As I have stated in my profile here on Hubpages, I am not an expert on Mormonism, nor am I an apologist of any kind whatsoever. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, with a bit of adequate background, to feel comfortable enough to get out and discuss the LDS Church, it's teachings, and a bit of history with others who would like to learn more about Mormonism... from a credible source. That's me. I am also a Woman of Mormonism in the Latter-Days, and bear this title, as do all LDS women - with a sense of pride, deep humility - and an especially profound gratitude for the legacy of those who have paved our way...

It is for these reasons and from this perspective that I offer my "review" of the movie Emma Smith: My Story:

Beginning with the opening scene of Emma Smith - My Story, we are to be told her "story" as narrated by her daughter, Julia Murdock. This personal guide is woven throughout the entire movie, even to the final words spoken in this film. They are the words of Julia Murdock, who was raised as Emma's own and only living daughter. This account of the reflections of Emma Smith's life,are brought about through an encounter Julia has with her mother, Emma Smith - in both of their later years of life. A sort of coming to terms with "their" lives, through the reflections of Emma Smith - and Julia's deep need for understanding and closure in her own life. This movie is meant to heal the family of Joseph Smith Jr. and Emma Hale Smith. As I left the movie theater, where I watched the movie twice, one word rang in my soul - and that one word had to be, exonerated.

Thoughts about Emma Hale Smith...

Lucy Mack Smith’s tribute to Emma: “I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience, which she has ever done; for I know that which she has had to endure—she has been tossed upon the ocean of uncertainty—she has breasted the storms of persecution, and buffeted the rage of men and devils, which would have borne down almost any other woman.”

Gracia N. Jones, the great-great granddaughter of Emma - who is also a convert to the LDS Church, said this about Emma: "As I reflect upon all I have learned from Emma’s life, I feel great reverence for the testimony she has borne of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon and for her precious vision of Joseph and her baby. Her legacy to us in her final witness is that she and all of us, through the ordinances restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith, have the opportunity to be with our families in eternity."

Katherine Nelson Thompson, of "Emma Smith: My Story," says, "There are so many things that have been said about her over the years that are completely false. I just think we're trying to help bring her back into a good light."

Will The Movie Emma Smith: My Story - Change The Way Emma Smith Is Seen By Some?

One of the difficulties for some members of the LDS Church, in reconciling an understanding of the life of Emma Smith, has been the lack of credible or complete history about Emma Hale Smith. Her "Story" has been attempted over the years by many - in their opinion, and with this loose history. Books have been published, histories written, opinions debated and criticisms of her generally considered, less than valiant membership in The Mormon Church -- have mounted. The Joseph Smith Jr. and Emma Hale Smith Historical Society, Inc., who are their direct family, but also the Church family - have been splintered since the death of Joseph Smith Jr. The cause of that split - laid to rest on Joseph Smith's widow, Emma Hale Smith.

As this movie opens, Julia first introduces us to a scene, with Emma Smith in her latest years, having before her a young boy named Charlie... both appearing apprehensive about one another. Emma Smith had come to discover that years before, Bidamon, whom she married after the death of Joseph Smith, had been unfaithful and fathered an illegitimate child. The mother of this child had become unable to care for the growing child, and Emma at 63, agreed to take him in and raise him as her own.

In narrating this account, Julia then proceeds to add one more very important detail to this already tender and compassionate story about her mother Emma. Set boldly on a platter - a clincher so to speak -- Julia shares proudly, that her mother - Emma Smith, also offered Charlie's mother, a job in her own home. This, Emma did - so that the natural mother could be close to this son, whom she could no longer care for alone. The movie now begins with Julia's firm declaration - "that was the kind of woman my mother was"...

This was the first, of a handful of "clinchers" that are glaringly intended throughout the movie Emma Smith: My Story, and are no doubt meant to compel anyone, who has harbored ill feelings or criticisms toward Emma Hale Smith, to reconsider such -- in future conversations.

Does the movie Emma Smith: My Story - Shed Any New Light On Emma Hale Smith?

Perhaps if you are one, who has had concerns about Emma Smith; regarding some of her alleged actions, choices and even behaviors -- thinking that perhaps some were not becoming of the wife of a prophet of God -- then I believe that after seeing the movie Emma Smith - My Story, you may be compelled to reconsider a few previous assumptions. This, assuming that the accounts in the movie Emma Smith - My Story were accurate and not speculative. It is my understanding that the collaborative efforts of those who were involved with the making of this movie about Emma Smith, did so with accuracy as the main priority.

If it is your hope to learn more about the wife of the prophet Joseph Smith, and understand her life and the many hardships that she endured - then you will receive the movie Emma Smith - My Story, very well.

Actual photograph of Emma Hale Smith

Emma Smith: My Story - A Beautiful and Poignant Account of An Extraordinary and Elect Lady!

I found myself enthralled in Emma's life as wife of the prophet Joseph Smith Jr., as portrayed stunningly and most convincingly, by Katherine Nelson Thompson. Her portrayal of Emma Hale Smith was a masterpiece, in the art of motion picture acting. If you believe in destiny on any level, then you might be compelled to believe that Katherine Nelson Thompson - was born to portray Emma Hale Smith. She did so, in a powerful way - as to literally manifest Emma and ultimately exonerate her before her people! After experiencing Emma Smith in this movie - you can't help but walk away somewhat changed.

Plural marriage you ask? Oh that... Julia and Emma did have a very brief, but pointed encounter where they discussed the "why" of Emma choosing to not ever discuss the revelation?

Interesting. Because it is the same way I feel about the doctrine of plural marriage and the question as to whether or not Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God? I liked Emma.

At the conclusion of the movie Emma Smith: My Story - the entire packed audience was completely still. Almost frozen in time... Yes, that was it. We had traveled back in time, if for only a moment -- to come to know Emma Hale Smith, truly an Elect Woman of God.

The movie Emma Smith - My Story is most definitely worth the effort to see. It promises to be enjoyable, deeply touchings, as well as educational for anyone who has an interest in Mormonism and coming to understand and know Emma Smith... a faithful daughter of God.

Emma Smith - My Story, now on DVD.

Emma Smith: My Story - Movie Trailer

LdsNana-AskMormon: Request and Acknowledgements -

If you enjoyed this movie review of Emma Smith - My Story, please give it a thumbs-up:-) Thanks.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Your comments are always appreciated.



I would love to hear your comments...

Submit a Comment

  • prasetio30 profile image


    9 years ago from malang-indonesia

    I never watch her movie. But I pay attention to her. It sound great movie.thanks for share

  • LdsNana-AskMormon profile imageAUTHOR

    Kathryn Skaggs 

    10 years ago from Southern California

    Hi Jodi -

    Absolutely do not miss Emma Smith My Story! You won't regret making the effort to either find it in a local movie theatre, or purchasing the DVD when it comes out.

    I have been amazed with the interest of the movie, Emma Smith My Story. The makers of this film continue to add new dates and cities to the schedule, because of the high requests they continue to receive. Word of mouth works great, especially within the Church:-)



  • profile image


    10 years ago

    Wow I don't know how I missed this one. I guess it's hard to get to movies with two toddlers in tow. I will have to rent it for a "date night" or something. Thanks for the heads up!

  • LdsNana-AskMormon profile imageAUTHOR

    Kathryn Skaggs 

    10 years ago from Southern California

    AEvans -

    That's great. I am so glad to hear that this review about the movie Emma Smith My Story, has been helpful to you, and even has inspired you perhaps, to see this movie. I enjoyed the movie, much more than I thought I would.

    Thanks for commenting.



  • AEvans profile image


    10 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

    I now am beginning to have a better understanding of Mormonism and I am looking forward to seeing the movie. Thank you for the better insight in regards to the religion.

  • LdsNana-AskMormon profile imageAUTHOR

    Kathryn Skaggs 

    10 years ago from Southern California

    CJStone -

    I wish I could tell you that if you are patient, the movie Emma Smith: My Story will be playing in your area. Due to the limited release of the movie, distribution has been sparse and the availability to see Emma Smith: My Story is difficult, unless you are in a larger city.

    On my other article, movie listings and times are available. Check for added dates often, as they continue to add more cities, and I will update regularly.

    The history of Mormonism is fascinating. Although I am not an expert, I have taught LDS Church History. I thoroughly enjoy reading and studying about the history of the Mormon Church, and certainly the relationship between the founding prophet, Joseph Smith Jr. and his wife Emma Hale Smith - are among some of the most fascinating parts of our history.

    Today, more and more LDS members are beginning to have more interest in the history of Mormonism. For members of the Mormon Church, our history is quite faith promoting. These early Saints, were among the greatest of pioneers in early U.S. history.

    Thank you for visiting. I think you know, how much I enjoy that which you write...



  • CJStone profile image

    Christopher James Stone 

    10 years ago from Whitstable, UK

    You definitely made me want to see this movie. I'll look out for it. You've also made me interested in the history of mormonism.

  • LdsNana-AskMormon profile imageAUTHOR

    Kathryn Skaggs 

    10 years ago from Southern California

    Raymond -

    I could not agree with you more, and share many of the same insights that you have commented on...

    The relationship between Emma and Joseph was portrayed in this movie, as stellar -- and yet they experienced that, which most of us will never really understand. He, the prophet of the restoration,and she - placed to stand by his side, as they were tried in countless, and no doubt - untold ways.

    I did find it interesting, that there was absolutely zero conflict portrayed in this movie, between the two of them...

    I cannot say why for certain, only that like you brought out - the relationship between Joseph and Emma was solidified in powerful ways throughout this movie.

    Eternal covenants and promises were beautifully emphasized between and for both Joseph and Emma in this movie - causing us to be assured of the place of Emma in Joseph's eternity. She was no doubt, the choice of his heart. Emma is number one for Joseph - they are bound through covenant! This comes through loud and clear in this movie.

    I thought the same thing, about the scenes that were not used, as the Saints experienced rampant sickness coming and settling in Illinois. But, instead they placed Emma as the one who once again, boldly and with confidence - beckoned on her prophet-husband as "he" lay desperately ill. She was leading at that moment...

    Another thing in the movie that stood out for me, from a woman's perspective - was the many times Joseph deferred to Emma, in delivering revelation and instruction to the leaders of the Church 'through' Emma - -- this, after Emma had been privy to receive it first... Emma was portrayed as a strong woman and also the number one confidant of her prophet-husband.

    The Word of Wisdom revelation, and how it was Emma first, who brought this concern and "inspiration" to Joseph, was confirmed boldly in this movie. Very important to have been done so, for the Church today...

    Eggshells have been walked on far too long in these matters of "priesthood". The fact that the LDS Church collaborated on this movie, must cause members to analyze carefully the messages regarding the relationships between men and women in the Church today.

    I think that we can and should, view this movie, looking for these correct portrayals, and recognized these as truths being taught. I personally loved much of the movie in this very specific light.

    Thank you for encouraging discussion here, in these very important facets of this move "Emma Smith - My Story". I appreciate the time you have taken to add to this review...



  • profile image

    Raymond Takashi Swenson 

    10 years ago

    My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The LDS Church clearly supported and cooperated in the production of this film. The actors who portray Joseph and Emma are the same ones who appear in the Church's own film about Joseph that it shows in its visitors centers. It uses outtakes form the film for some of its scenes. They are essentially twin productions, telling the story of these two people at the center of the Restoration from their respective perspectives.

    One aspect of the Emma movie that I found interesting is that it did not show any of the miraculous events that were experienced by Joseph, even those to which Emma was a direct witness, such as healings of people with malaria in the intial settlement of Nauvoo, Illinois. This is in contrast to the Joseph Smith film that is shown in church visitor centers, which specifically affirms those experiences which Joseph testified of and which were witnessed by others. This contrast emphasizes that Emma was exercising faith and trust in Joseph and his prophetic calling throughout her life, from the time they courted to the end of his life. It is pointed up directly in connection with the golden plates on which the Book of Mormon was recorded, which she never sees or touches except when they are wrapped in a cloth. Emma's faith was tested in this case and others. When we see the faith that she has in Joseph, expressed by her defense of him and her faithfulness through all kinds of trials, including the rejection by her father, it is a testimony to us that he is someone worthy of our trust as well. The person who knew him most intimately had to exercise faith, and she did.

    Another theme of the film is the yearning of Emma and Joseph to have children, and the heartbreak of several deaths of their infants. When Joseph promises Emma the fulfillment of whatever blessing she writes for herself, she asks to raise her children. Hers is a selfless wish.

    What comes through loud and clear is that Joseph loved Emma and that her love for him was one of the anchors of his turbulent and difficult life. Anyone who loves Joseph must love Emma too.

    When Emma loses the husband that has been the main force in her life, we understand how her battered and bruised heart lacked the energy to follow the other Saints to a refuge in the unknown West. To leave Nauvoo would have been to leave the last vestige and visible evidence of the love that had been the center of her life. Those of us who never went through her heartache are in a poor position to judge her harshly.

    The film is beautifully photographed, often in the original locations where the events took place (another mark of the Church's cooperation with the producers). There is nothing amateurish about the movie to distract us from the pure experience of the story. The actress who portrays Emma in old age deserves commendation as well. Anyone who sees this film will be prepared to see the Church film with a deeper appreciation for the reality in which Joseph's miraculous experiences were anchored. They will know through Emma's eyes that Joseph was an honest and sincere man who earned the love and trust of his intimate companion, and so deserves our trust in his testimony about God and angels.

    The enemies of Mormonism will hate this movie, because it makes Joseph real for us. It invites us to approach him and trust him, as Emma Hale Smith did.


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