Back in 2000, I was home teaching a lady in my ward who mentioned that she had seen a preview at Jordan Commons for a show about LDS missionaries. I could hardly believe it. A show was made for Mormons and about Mormons in a mainstream theater. The idea sounded too good to be true.
Well, sure enough, it was true. I paid for a ticket and my brother and I went to see the movie, God’s Army. We really enjoyed the movie, and felt it was a fairly good depiction of missionary life, including the challenges than many face while serving the Church for two years.
I have enjoyed each of Dutcher’s films. God’s Army was a good movie that many thought was great because it was so novel — no one had ever seen anything like that. Brigham City was a powerful tale of forgiveness, even though the subject matter of a serial killer in a small town was a disturbing. I think overall, States of Grace was Dutcher’s finest work, even though the last scene seemed a little overdone. Again, the subject matter was challenging, including gang warefare, fornication, and other difficult issues, but it had great acting and a powerful message.
Neither of Dutcher’s follow-up films had the same kind of run-away commercial success as the first one. I think the novelty of the genre has died down, especially since so many others began producing numerous mediocre movies directed specifically at Mormon audiences. And Dutcher’s films dealt with subjects that many Latter-day Saints may prefer to avoid.
Anyway, I was saddened to hear of Dutcher’s recent decision to not only leave the movie genre he founded, but also to no longer be a practicing member of the Church. Click here to read his letter, which he published in the April 12 issue of The Provo Daily Herald. He doesn’t detail the reasons for his decision, but he certainly will be missed. I believe his path will come back to the Church one day.
I think it will be very interesting to see where Mormon films will go from here. I sometimes visit a website that provides some interesting bits of information on past, present and future projects of LDS filmmakers. It’s located at http://www.ldsfilm.com/. Check it out, it’s pretty fun to see what Dutcher’s God’s Army started seven years ago.