Digitizing the Lost Mormon Cinema, Part 3

I've gotten the transfers back, and there is good news all around! It took much less than either I or the transfer company had assumed, so the total costs for the project are extremely low compared to what I had planned for.

This leaves us with much more available to continue transfer of other film reels. I plan on sending the next two, “Meet the Mormons” and “You Make the Difference” this evening and they'll get started on them hopefully within the next few weeks.

The transfer process went well enough considering the age and care of the film I obtained. The reel is over a half century old and had not been well preserved. The film was extremely red in color and contained numerous scratches that were minimized as much as possible by the company. I'm sure that other people can go through and perform some manual post work to remove them entirely, but as it is we have a full copy of the movie as contained on the reel of film we started with.

It's quite fun to watch the original next to the 1979 revision. For the vast majority of cuts it's obvious that they were made for time. Most of the montages have been streamlined and this shaves a few minutes off of the total running time.

There are a few obvious choice edits when the 1979 revision was produced, however.

Most obviously, the order of the parade/celebration in St. George for the visit of President Snow and the planting of the fields by the Stake President were swapped so that the Stake President of St. George started planting immediately following the conference. This helps streamline the plot such that we see President McArthur begin planting after his line, “I'm going to plant!” instead of cutting first to the parade.

Another purposeful edit is at the beginning of the film, where the 1979 revision cuts Presidents Snow's line, “I realize, it's true, He [God] hasn't shown the way as of yet, but I know He will.” This is followed by a “Brother Stout” who presents a plan for improving Church funds by soliciting donations from the members along the lines of a $1000 club, a $500 dollar club, a $100 club, all the way down to a dime. This idea is rejected by President Snow. My own opinion is that the scene was cut because it presented the Church leadership as though they were casting around for ideas all over the place instead of just waiting for a divine answer to their problems. The idea that the leadership would press forward with their own ideas when God is silent seems to be one that wouldn't fly very far in the modern LDS Church.

Also cut is a fun little interlude at the telegraph office. It adds nothing to the plot, but the humor of the scene helps to provide some humanity to the somber tone of much of the rest of the film.

Finally in St. George, President Snow discusses how dire the situation had become when the Church had to offer bonds totaling $1 million. The 1979 revision cuts the rest of his dialog such that the bonds had been purchased by Church members themselves. I feel this was to keep the story of the Church's financial difficulties as though they were purely the fault of the US Government, instead of the actual history where the financial problems lay in large part in poor internal business decisions by the Church leadership as well as external pressures such as the official and permanent dissolution of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter0day Saints and seizure of its properties by the US government. The film presents the problems as relating to the newly incorporated organization having to purchase these properties as the main source of funding issues, but in truth the LDS Church was also indebted to its own membership as well as the national banks.

Anyways, that's the status of the project so far. Those who wish to use the uncompressed original digital transfer can find the entire 93 GB file here. Make sure you have room!

This link will also provide access to all of the digitized 16mm films I am hoping to make available over the next few months. I have already sent out “Meet the Mormons” and “You Make the Difference” so we should have those films back soon!

Thank you all for you help. I couldn't have done it without you!

Project Funding

Public and private as of 2 August 2016
Payment Services Fees
(Paypal, GoFundMe, etc)
Shipping "Windows of Heaven" to CinePost-$33.90
Film prep-$50.00
16mm xfer to ProRes 422 HQ/HD-$590.00
1TB USB3 Hard drive-$100.00
Return shipping for "Windows of Heaven"-$34.50
Shipping "Meet the Mormons" and "You Make the Difference" to CinePost-$44.85
Current Funds

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