|Buy this now!|
|Length:||2 hours, 30 minutes.|
|Released:||January 10th, 1997|
I feel like a father with a great family of children around me in a winter storm. And I am looking with calmness, confidence, and patience for the clouds to break, and the sun to shine.
-- Brigham Young, from an 1846 letter
He was the right man, at the right place, at the right time. He was a great colonizer, who settled one of the largest regions in the United States. He was a spiritual leader of a struggling religious denomination. He was a political power broker, elected twice unanimously as governor of the Utah Territory. He was an economic planner, a political deal maker, and a family man.
Brigham Young stands as a unique figure in the history of the nation -- not just that of Utah. No other leader in the country employed the variety of powers that Young exercised over the Utah Territory.
KUED invites viewers to discover Brigham Young in a two-and-a-half hour biography from the makers of Utah: The Struggle for Statehood.
Created by producer/director Ken Verdoia and co-producer Nancy Green, Brigham Young uses archival photographs, interviews with historians from throughout the nation, and the words of Young, as well as his family, followers, opponents, and the media of the day. More than 30 local personalities provide speaking parts. Actor James Arrington, who has dramatically played Young for almost 20 years, brings to life the words of Young's diary entries and speeches. Musical arrangement of pioneer songs is by local musician Dan Waldis.
Verdoia believes his Utah: The Struggle for Statehood was a prelude to yet another unprecedented production -- the intimate look at one man responsible for the settlement of what would one day be Utah. The story of Brigham Young has only been grazed by television. So here is an opportunity for KUED to once again break substantial ground. If viewers enjoyed Utah: The Struggle for Statehood, I firmly believe they're going to enjoy this program even more, says Verdoia.
Brigham Young is told in chapters. Beginning at Young's death, the film traces back through his life, from his birth in 1801 in Whitingham, Vermont to his years as a carpenter in upstate New York, where he was first introduced to the teachings of the Book of Mormon.
After the death of Joseph Smith, founding prophet of the L.D.S. Church, Young stepped forward to exert calming leadership over the Mormons. He brought almost 100,000 followers to the Great Basin over a 30-year period. In an area said to be impossible to inhabit, Young created more than 300 towns and settlements throughout the Intermountain West. Portions of six states were settled under his guidance and colonization.
But Young was not without opposition. In the 1850s Young began to run into conflicts with a wary federal government. Eastern politicians questioned Mormon loyalty to the United States, and closely watched Young as a man they feared for his religious and political powers. As the population of Utah changed in the 1860s and '70s, Young faced more resistance from within the Utah Territory, and spent his last years dealing with challenges to his ideals as Utah became more Americanized.
Brigham Young reveals countless surprises about the leader. The production taught me that Brigham Young is someone who I didn't know, even though I thought I knew him going into this project, says Verdoia. Young had only 11 days of schooling in his entire life, and was very sensitive about his poor grammar. Yet he had an extraordinary sense of humor, and would entertain as he spoke for hours in the tabernacle.
Young was sealed, or married, to 55 women in his lifetime, and fathered 56 children with 18 of those wives. He maintained an extraordinary household, and yet had time to be a loving father and family man.
Verdoia found an international fascination with Young as the perceived head of a harem because of his polygamy practice. The legendary British explorer Sir Richard Burton, who ventured through Africa and the Middle East, made a point to come to Salt Lake City to meet a man who had many wives. P.T. Barnum, the great circus promoter, also came to Salt Lake City to meet Young. Young jokingly asked Barnum, Well, how much money do you think we could make if you were to put me on display back East? PT Barnum answered, Mr. President, I guarantee you half the receipts which will be in excess of $200,000 a year because you would be the greatest show in town.
While some 30,000 people continue to practice plural marriage in the Mountain West, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints clearly states that it does not condone plural marriage. Brigham Young deals with the sensitive situation honestly and factually. We should have no fear of the truth, because our history has shaped who we are today, says Verdoia. Our history is our foundation. The more we understand it, the firmer our stepping stone to the future. The program is solid, not dismissing portions of our history, but not over representing the controversial.
What Brigham Young initiated as a leader in this region in 1847 still affects Utahns 150 years later. From the street organization to the placements of our communities and from our relationship with the land to our political system, the work of Young remains today.
When we stop and look at the character -- the skills, strengths, weaknesses, personal and public moments -- an extraordinary portrait emerges of a person who literally shaped an entire region, says Verdoia.
Brigham Young is made possible by the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation.
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