’16 Stones’ takes viewers on journey of faith

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Mason D. Davis, left, and Ben Isaacs play two-thirds of the trio who go in search of the 16 Jaredite stones in the film "16 Stones," which will be in theaters Oct. 1. (Photo Courtesy of Candlelight Media)

Mason D. Davis, left, and Ben Isaacs play two-thirds of the trio who go in search of the 16 Jaredite stones in the film “16 Stones,” which will be in theaters Oct. 1. (Photo Courtesy of Candlelight Media)

Action, adventure … and an examination of faith? The upcoming film “16 Stones,” which opens locally today, has all this and more.

“16 Stones” tells the tale of three friends in 1830s Missouri who, in the face of severe religious persecution, go in search of tangible evidence to back up the Book of Mormon’s validity: the 16 stones the brother of Jared presented to God to light their journey to the American continent, as told in the Book of Ether.

Director Brian Brough said, “Though they are looking for proof, faith is a key theme of the story.” With that theme comes an inspirational feel, which Brough said is an important aspect he wanted “16 Stones” to have.

“It’s like ‘National Treasure’ meets ‘17 Miracles,’” said Mason D. Davis, a 24-year-old Provo resident who plays James Delford, the leader of the trio who spearheads the quest to find the stones.

Davis said the adventure and thrill of playing a character on such a journey sold him on the film.

The characters played by Aubrey Reynolds, left, and Mason D. Davis take a break along their journey in "16 Stones," which opens in Utah Oct. 1. (Photo Courtesy of Candlelight Media)

The characters played by Aubrey Reynolds, left, and Mason D. Davis take a break along their journey in “16 Stones,” which opens in Utah Oct. 1. (Photo Courtesy of Candlelight Media)

“I’ve always been a really big fan of adventure and treasure hunt films, and they don’t make a lot of them,” Davis said. “When I read the script, it was a flashback to my whole childhood of being barefoot in the forest, pretending to be Indiana Jones and making up my own adventures.”

In addition to its adventure, the film takes its characters on a journey of another kind — the spiritual theme Brough wanted and an examination of what constitutes faith.

“We are in a world that continually questions religion,” Brough said. “Even though this film is set in the 1830s, I think people will see how faith then and now relates to us all.”

“I think that’s a really big learning opportunity for me, for my character, and for the audience,” Davis said. “Faith isn’t about having physical evidence. It’s about believing and trusting in God and hoping that things will be better and that the Lord will take care of you.”

The characters’ test of faith resonated well with Davis as an actor in an industry whose values often come at odds with those of Latter-day Saints.

However, Davis said he believes people today are trending toward messages of faith and hope, looking for examples like his character who stand as leaders, strong in their values and morals.

“Now our culture is in a very low state of mind where it’s cool to be bad, but it’s ready to change,” Davis said. “People are looking for those examples to be that change, to be the example the world needs. They respect people who stand for something bigger than themselves. … They’re starting to flock to a good, wholesome story.”

Produced by Candlelight Media, “16 Stones” is rated PG and opens in Utah today. It will expand outside of Utah later in October. For more information, visit 16StonesMovie.com or Facebook.com/16Stones.

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Christa Woodall worked for The Orange County Register in her native Southern California for several years before returning to Utah Valley, her second hometown. She writes about her passions—arts, entertainment, travel, and the outdoors—for UtahValley360.com.

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