That film showed Joseph translating the plates. Oddly, it didn't show the Urim and Thummim, possibly because of the inconsistent descriptions of the instrument.
But at least the 1968 film didn't teach SITH.
You can see it for free on youtube.
We'll have to wait longer for a historically accurate update to the 1968 film. Ironically, Witnesses was dedicated to Richard Lloyd Anderson, who was a consultant on the more accurate BYU film.
(a) If Joseph, Oliver and his scribes explained that Joseph dictated from behind a screen or curtain because he couldn't show anyone the plates or U&T, that would corroborate the Spalding theory.(b) If Joseph, Oliver and his scribes claimed Joseph merely read words off a seer stone, that meant (i) he didn't really translate the plates, (ii) the plates (and the U&T) were not evidence of the antiquity of the text, and (iii) the entire narrative collapsed on itself.
Presumably most viewers have been LDS in Utah, Idaho, and Arizona. If so, they've already been taught SITH (stone-in-the-hat) by the Saints book, the Gospel Topics Essay, and the January 2020 Ensign (none of which address what Joseph and Oliver and the scriptures say).
In that sense, the movie will confirm a few biases and reinforce the revisionist historical narrative that rejects the traditional narrative based on what Joseph, Oliver, Lucy Mack Smith, and the scriptures taught. That means it won't do much more damage.
True, John Dehlin and other critics can cite Witnesses as another evidence to support their claim that Church leaders "covered up the real history," but those who read actual history instead of the revisionist spin can see that Church leaders always taught the truth about the translation.
There are lots of ways to review a movie. Filmmakers make innumerable choices and second-guessing them is part of the fun of writing and reading reviews.
Technically, Witnesses was fine, with good cinematography, sets, and music. The editing was mostly fine, although the long opening scene was repeated in full later in the film, which felt like padding. Audiences expect a setup and payoff, but in this case, the payoff was a dud because everyone watching the film knew David would survive beyond 1833. That's not even a spoiler alert because it was made clear in the movie from the outset (when the reporter comes to visit the much older David Whitmer).
I was quite surprised with all the emphasis on the Kirtland banking collapse. The history there was muddled and the film left viewers confused. Given the constraints of filmmaking, I was very surprised they chose to focus on such an arcane and uncinematic episode from Church history. Maybe it looked okay in the script, but on the screen, it was a mess.
As I said before I saw the movie, I hoped/expected them to show some of the important corroborating details the witnesses gave us, including the messenger who took the abridged plates from Harmony to Cumorah before taking the small plates of Nephi to Fayette.
I hoped/expected them to show Joseph and Oliver visiting the repository of Nephite records in the Hill Cumorah, since both Oliver and David spoke about that important confirmation of the historical reality of these events.
But being a film from the Interpreter Foundation, a member of the M2C citation cartel, we already expected they would present revisionist history that accommodates M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory).
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