As far as LDS faith-promoting movies go, “Ephraim’s Rescue” has to be right up there. On the other hand, I think it might also make some of the brethren a little nervous.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while admitting to a restored priesthood, has never been all that keen on overtouting its healing skills. Its stalwart members might believe in healing the sick, and that may even happen on a daily basis, but the church doesn’t go in for the big tent revivals in which a parade of the afflicted are brought forth and commanded to walk again. It’s just not the LDS Church’s style.
So when an aging Ephraim Hanks rides up to a farmhouse full of mourners, ushers the attending out the door and proceeds to bless a young woman back to life in the late 1800s, I think the faithful might be a little befuddled.
Was she really dead? Or only mostly dead? You’d think that would have been discussed at some LDS General Conference in the last hundred years or so. I don’t remember hearing about it? Did you?
But we are familiar with the tragic story of the Martin Handcart Company, which got a late start in the summer of 1856 on the journey from Iowa to Utah and got caught in a deadly early-winter storm.
Casualties were high and provisions were low, prompting Brigham Young to send several men and supply wagons to save the dwindling number of remaining pioneers.
Hanks (Darin Southam), who was most familiar with the route, left immediately and was determined to find the company, despite having to travel over the same snow-covered trails.
He kept a journal of his experiences, which is likely the main source of material for T.C. Christensen’s inspiring film. Among several incidents the film features an American Indian boy with a severely broken back, an Irish pioneer with late-stage frostbite on his feet and the head of an LDS family who was presumed dead. All were made whole by Hank’s efforts and faith. They are touching stories — every one of them. Whether they are true or the work of some imaginative storytelling is up for someone else to decide.
All I know is that Christensen is an accomplished filmmaker who has made the kind of movie he and his fellow Mormons would want to see — and he makes no apologies for it.
If you saw and appreciated “17 Miracles,” you will likely be even more moved by “Ephraim’s Rescue,” a more emotional effort that chronicles one of the great, dramatic moments and lesser-known figures in LDS history.
- THE FILM: ‘Ephraim’s Rescue’
- STARRING: Darin Southam, Joseph Paur, Rick Macy, Mia Selway and Katherine Nelson
- BEHIND THE SCENES: Written and directed by T.C. Christensen (‘17 Miracles,’ ‘The Penny Promise’); filmed in Utah
- PLAYING: Megaplex 13, Layton Tinseltown, Megaplex 14. Runs 102 minutes.
- MPAA RATING: PG for thematic elements and some disturbing images