NAUVOO, Ill. (AP) — Deep in the woods on a leafy, muddy path, 7-year-old Joseph Smith tries during a brisk fall day in the 1820s to keep up with his two older brothers, despite a serious leg problem.
As his brothers encourage him to keep going, a commercial jet flies overhead and wrecks the whole thing.
That was the scene this fall as a Utah movie crew moved into Nauvoo for several days to film portions of “Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration,” which depicts the life of the Mormon founder.
The Latter-day Saints Motion Picture Studio cast and crew had to deal with modern-day issues, such as the airplane, throughout their filming in this Hancock County town.
“It’s OK, it’s an 1820s plane,” joked the film’s producer, Ron Munns, as the roar overhead was heard and the scene was halted. “It’s hard to film a period piece in a contemporary setting … especially when you have sounds like that.”
Nauvoo tourism director Rustin Lippincott said the movie’s production was beneficial to the economy of Nauvoo, partly since it filled most of the town’s available hotel rooms with cast and crew members.
“This is an exciting time for us,” Lippincott said. “It’s a chance to tell part of the history of Nauvoo, but it also includes the present-day people of this area.’
Besides the more than 150 actors and crew members, Lippincott said more than 200 local residents were used as extras in the film.
Munns said the extras were chosen based on special skills they possessed, such as the ability to ride horses.
“The local people have been anxious to help, and that’s been one of the great things,” Munns said.
Early in their stay, the crew members were inside Nauvoo to recreate a kidnapping attempt against Smith that was halted by crowds of people who came to his aid. After several days of shooting, they moved to a wooded area south of Nauvoo for a scene from when Smith was 7 years old.
Other scenes had already been shot in Utah, New York and Wisconsin.
The film company is actually the audiovisual arm of the Mormon Church, and Munns said this is the biggest production it has undertaken. The church is not releasing the film’s budget.
All of the featured actors and crew are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The film is expected to be ready for release in December 2005, and will be shown for the first two years at the 500-seat Legacy IMAX Theater of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City.
Munns said the film’s release will coincide with Smith’s 200th birthday.
Smith established the church in 1830 in Upstate New York. Members later traveled west through Ohio, Illinois and into Missouri before establishing their headquarters at Nauvoo. Smith and his brother were shot to death by a mob at the jail in nearby Carthage, Ill., in 1844.
Brigham Young eventually took the remaining followers to Utah, where the church found a permanent home and began its steady growth. It now claims a worldwide membership of nearly 12 million.
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