20 March 2018

Reign of Judges

movie poster courtesy of Darin Southam

I asked my dear friend Marjohna Madsen, who was able to attend the premiere event last week at Thanksgiving Point in Utah, if she would like to write a guest post for my blog reviewing "Reign of Judges." I also asked her to jot down her memories of the Freedom Shout, which was an opportunity for anyone who wanted to be an extra voice in the movie short. Oh, how I wish I could have been there for both!

Darin Southam and the Title of Liberty, photo courtesy of Marjohna Madsen

By Marjohna Madsen

The day is a blustery exception to unusually mild winter days up until now. There are less than the number of people expected standing in a high school parking lot. Darin has the Title of Liberty and the sword he used in the movie and is giving us a pep talk as we wait for stragglers. He tells us about the people making the movie, the actors, the make-up artists, the costumers, etc. He tells us about the troubles they all had during filming and the Polynesian actors who faced all the necessary discomforts and sacrifices (in loin cloths all day in freezing temperatures) saying, "...for da movie... it's for da movie..." Darin has a way of making everyone feel like an intimate and important part of the project – like it is our project, and somehow, our small part is equal to his years of dedicated effort.

Finally we head out to a big hill in the field behind the school building. Darin stands on the hill with a sound expert who has a microphone with a big puffy cover. We stand at the base of the hill. The wind is whipping the Title posted on the hill's summit and blowing cold in our faces. Darin explains the words we will be saying, "Ho vey" and demonstrates how to say it. He raises the sword and we shout the word each time. At the end we all yell and cheer for all we are worth. It is so exciting, I am yelling at the top of my voice; everyone is. The sound is being swirled by the wind, washing to the hills and back to the mountains and echoing to us again. The sword drops and we fall silent. Then we move back 50 feet and do it again... 20 feet to the right, again... 20 feet to the left, again, forward 10 feet, again...

My voice finally gives out, but I keep mouthing the words at a whisper... because – we are losing it, and I want freedom, too, and sometimes it feels like I am screaming for it with my last breath, and the wind is carrying it away unheard. Darin is so enthusiastic and says we were great, but I feel a subdued sense of just one step among many weary steps that must be taken. We quietly disperse to our homes and jobs and wonder what will be made of it all. After all – we are just a bunch of strangers hollering for a few minutes in an empty field. When I see what is made of it all in the movie, of course, I can't hear my voice, but I know it is there among a great host, maybe every saint in history and all the angels of Heaven that give all for FREEDOM have joined one shining moment in history when it was heard... and maybe we are on the brink of being heard again.

photo courtesy of Marjohna Madsen

A Review of Reign of Judges, a movie concept short

Moroni who saw the end and Moroni who saw the redemption. They are enacted compellingly in an ancient American setting. The tendrils of prophesy, the cycle of moral agency and deep human feeling are masterfully entwined in a very real sense of the personal experience of Book of Mormon history.

The characters have depth and are well-defined. The presentation is polished and engaging with fine attention to detail accurate to the time period, respectful of the cultural background and imaginative.

The scenery, the cinematography and the musical score all work to transport viewers to a time, place and experience that is sacred, profound and deeply emotional. Darin Southam's movie short, Reign of the Judges: the Title of Liberty, is an exceptional experience for believer and for those who want to know a great story presented in a great movie.

photo courtesy of Marjohna Madsen


  1. Quite the memory indeed as you yelled away. Sounds like the movie turned out grand too.

    1. I can't wait to see it, Pat. It sounds like it's going to be so awesome!

  2. How interesting to read the experience of someone who got to participate!

    1. I agree, Sue! Now if I can get my brother and his family to go see it in LA and write about it for me...


Dusty words lying under carpets,
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locked inside, hidden deep from view?
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