In 1986 – 1987 the Mormon church released films to the dating back from the 1940s to more contemporary. The films were placed in a series which is commonly called “Church Films”. These films were in a 27 VHS set. At this time not everybody had a VCR and DVDs were not invented. Most churches in North America were setup with a television and VCR. Each library was stocked with these films. They were available to the general public, however, most individual homes were not equipped with home theater systems. Most LDS church libraries still have these films or at least a portion of these films. Many youth in the 1980s and 1990s will remember “Johnny Lingo” or “The Phone Call”. However, these films did not actually replace filmstrips, an older technology, until the late 90s.
Films strips are 35 mm still framed images that are projected by light onto a wall or white screen. An audio tape provides the sound. When the slide needs to be changed you simply turn a dial on the projector, and a small beep or buzz indicates at what point during the presentation the slide needs to be changed.
As VHS tapes were replacing film strips, the Mormon church authorized some film strips be converted to VHS; they were just still images that were transitioned.
Many people think that LDS cinema started with the film “God’s Army”; however the LDS church has been producing films since the 1940s. These films might never have been released in conventional theaters, but film has been an important part of LDS culture for many years.
LDS films are a form of art. The LDS motion picture studio is located in Provo, Utah and actively creates films to this day. Many of these films can be seen in Salt Lake City as a way to introduce people to the Church. There have been three major films played exclusively in Salt Lake City.
- “Legacy” – a film about the early pioneers
- “Testaments” – a historical drama of Christ’s visit to the America’s from the Book of Mormon
- “Joseph Smith The Prophet of the Restoration” – a film on the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith
LDS art can be in many forms, and one great form of art is film. LDS people love film and believe that it is a medium for sharing their faith with others as well as to strengthen their own testimonies.