This period coincides with the silent film era and can be divided between between sensationalist films exploiting Mormon peculiarities (such as A Victim of the Mormons) and somewhat propagandistic films made in response to these by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and those sympathetic to it (such as One Hundred Years of Mormonism).
Key Films of the First Wave
Click on individual films for full details and history. This is a small sampling of the many films from this period, all of which can be searched from here. These films are chosen due to their quality, popularity, or influence. Some are listed because they represent innovations, major trends, or emerging genres.
|Salt Lake City Company of Rocky Mountain Riders||USA 1898||First recorded filming of Latter-day Saints in early newsreel of the Spanish-American War.|
|A Trip to Salt Lake City||USA; 1905||First fiction film with Mormon content, produced by Thomas Edison's American Mutoscope and Biograph Co.|
|A Victim of the Mormons||Denmark; 1911||First major Mormon exploitation / anti-Mormon film|
|One Hundred Years of Mormonism||USA; 1913||First large scale theatrical feature film created by the LDS church|
|A Study in Scarlet||UK; 1914||First cinematic adaptation of Mormon-themed novel (Sherlock Holmes / Arthur Conan Doyle).|
|The Life of Nephi||USA; 1914; Clawson Brothers||First effort to bring the Book of Mormon to the silver screen.|
|Clawson Brothers Films||USA; 1916-1929||First church-sponsored actualities and documentaries of Mormon subjects, events, and leaders.|
|A Mormon Maid||USA; 1917||Most significant Mormon exploitation / anti-Mormon film and most advertised U.S. film to that time.|
|Riders of the Purple Sage||USA; 1918||First of many westerns with Mormon characters. Adaptation of Zane Grey novel.|
|Trapped by the Mormons||UK; 1922||Famed Mormon exploitation / anti-Mormon film that convinced Mormon leaders of the role movies can play for proselyting. Based on Winifred Graham novel.|
|All Faces West||USA; 1929
||Second church sponsored theatrical feature film and first of such with sound.|