Now that September Dawn has come and passed us by, there’s another Mormon themed story that I think would be a great movie. I’d call it “Salamander” and it would be about the Mark Hoffman murders. I think it’s got all of the needed elements for a good story.

If you don’t know who Mark Hoffman is, he is probably one of the greatest forgery artist of the 20th Century. He was a Mormon with a greater than normal interest in history. He made his living by selling rare and hard to find documents. He began selling some of his findings to the LDS church. He became so trusted that he was allowed access to the secret First Presidency vault. (It’s existence is not secret, but what’s inside) Unfortunately he was not a trustworthy individual and stole some items out of the vault and sold them back to the church.

At some point he came under the personal suspicion that the LDS church was not true. He decided to put his hypothesis to the test by manufacturing some fake writings. He concocted one version of the first vision in which Joseph Smith encountered a white salamander in the sacred grove. Hoffman felt his suspicions were true when President Hinckley purchased some of his fake documents and then locked them away in his office safe so that no one would see them. Although the LDS church itself never purchased his “Salamander Letters” his documents seemed so authentic FARMS even wrote up an apologetic defense to salamanders appearing as agents of God.

Ironically, well known anti-Mormons Jerald and Sue Tanner opposed all of the Hoffman findings and thought they were all fakes.

The LDS church wasn’t the only group that Hoffman pulled his forgeries on. At some point he was prepaid for a number of “documents” which he had not yet produced. As his debtors started calling, Hoffman got desperate. He bombed and murdered a couple of other document collectors so that he would have an excuse to give himself some more time. On his way to murder a third victim his bomb accidentally went off in his car. He lived, but lost a couple of fingers. He was at first thought to be a victim, and then was discovered to be the culprit and is now serving time in prison.

If it does get made into a movie, I hope it’s well made. I think it could be made in a way that at first makes Hoffman out to be the good guy (and the LDS church as a sort of an antagonist). Then as the bombings start happening, the twist could be introduced that Hoffman is actually forging all of these documents and killing people.

September Dawn

September Dawn opens today. By all critical points, this seems to be a pretty bad movie. Which is too bad. I think it’s a story with enough drama and controversy to make a pretty good movie. I don’t think the historical inspiration is at fault, it just sounds like the execution (pardon the pun) of screenwriting, directing and acting all failed.

One review I read said that it made 1950’s Western TV shows look authentic. I don’t see movies in the theater unless they get at least a 75 on Rotten Tomatoes. “September Dawn” is getting a 12 right now. That’s Gigli-Land, so that means I’m probably out.

But I did find this interesting interview by Hugh Hewitt with the director Christopher Cain and star of the movie Jon Voight. They come off pretty well in regards to their intentions and motivations for making the movie.