Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer all left the organized church for a time, but none of them ever denied their claims of seeing the plates. Each boldly proclaimed their testimonies of the veracity of the things they had seen until their dying day.
Witnesses shared their stories in a way that anyone, young or old, previously familiar with these witnesses or not, could understand their narratives and experiences.
During the pandemic, the film played for 353 days in theaters nationwide and later saw a release on DVD and multiple streaming options including Apple, Google, and Amazon.
As successful as Witnesses continues to be, it was never the plan to only have a single film.
The original idea was to do a documentary or “docudrama”; the notion of a dramatic movie came later.
And now, a year later, that docudrama—titled “Undaunted: Witnesses of the Book of Mormon” —is finished.
“Undaunted” is divided into two parts that, altogether, total slightly less than 2.5 hours in length. It is available now with subtitles in Spanish, Portuguese, and French.
In a sense, this new docudrama is a sequel to the dramatic movie.
But it’s also an expansion and a commentary on that earlier film. The ambition was for “Witnesses” to bring the Three Witnesses—Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer—once more to the attention of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to increase member understanding and appreciation of them.
The hope was to refresh memories and to create a conversation.
And “Undaunted” is designed to further that conversation and to inform it.
So how does the recently released docudrama “Undaunted” differ from the feature film “Witnesses”?
Were the eleven official witnesses—twelve if you include Joseph Smith himself—of the Book of Mormon reliable?
What about the unofficial witnesses who interacted with the plates in various ways—including a number of women?
Were the plates actually made of gold? How could witnesses really hear the voice of God and yet come to doubt Joseph Smith, His prophet?
All of these questions, and more, are probed in the new docudrama UNDAUNTED: Witnesses of the Book of Mormon.
Unlike the dramatic film that was shown in theaters, the new docudrama broadens our coverage beyond just the Three Witnesses and covers key and critical questions like those posed above.
“Undaunted” brings the story and the testimony of the Eight Witnesses in, as well.
Moreover, beyond them, it introduces its viewers to several of the informal or unofficial witnesses of the very tangible objects involved in the recovery of the Book of Mormon (for example, Mary Musselman Whitmer, Josiah Stowell, and Lucy Mack Smith).
Besides scenes drawn from the original “Witnesses,” it also features new segments that have been created especially for the docudrama itself.
Another feature of “Undaunted” is its inclusion of interviews and expert commentary, including noted Latter-day Saint scholars such as Richard Lyman Bushman, Susan Easton Black, Steven Harper, and Terryl Givens.
A further part is the production of short “reels” ranging in length from 8-15 minutes each and distributed FREE. These 18+ free reels are deep dives into individual topics which Witnesses film touched on, such as Sidney Rigdon, early Latter-day Saint plural marriage, the Spalding Manuscript as a commonly proposed non-divine source for the Book of Mormon, James Jesse Strang and his “Voree plates,” the Kirtland apostasy, etc.
Finally, an important component of the overall “Witnesses” effort is a website that is devoted to “Witnesses of the Book of Mormon”. It was first created as a support to the film projects and intended to grow as independently valuable and important in and of itself.
A theatrically-released film, streaming content, a docudrama, free content online for worldwide audiences, and more. Could the original witnesses have ever imagined their individual witnesses be shared in such remarkable ways?