A new film with a unique perspective on Emma Hale Smith is the perfect summer activity to escape the heat and be inspired. “In Emma’s Footsteps” is now playing in Utah Megaplex Theatres for a limited time. The movie examines the life of Joseph Smith, Jr.’s wife after his death, addressing many questions that have lingered.
“If any woman today was left widowed by the violent death of her husband,” said director Brittany Wiscombe, “only to next face huge financial struggles, rumors, and danger from the same people who killed her husband, we would rally around her.”
Wiscombe, who also wrote “In Emma’s Footsteps,” aims to help audiences discover a side of Emma Smith that will make them appreciate the hardships she went through, and the strength she had to endure them.
In 2008, “Emma Smith—My Story” came to theaters and showed Emma in the midst of her life with Joseph Smith. But much is not commonly known about Emma after that, even though common questions about her persist, like why Emma did not travel west with the Saints, why she remarried, and various rumors about her faith in the gospel and her husband’s role in it.
“A filmmaker asked me why I bothered with a new movie on Emma Smith. He said there wasn’t anything left to tell,” Wiscombe said. “But there are people today who think she was weak or wrong because she didn’t move to Utah with the Saints. We don’t fully understand what it was like for her or others back then. We should consider her side of the story and the context of her experiences.”
Actress Shona Kay Moyer, who portrays Emma Smith in the movie, said, “It’s unimaginable what she went through. So much violence and trauma—it’s hard to understand how terrifying that would be.”
Yet the film focuses on Emma’s endurance in light of those struggles. Wiscombe hopes the movie and its perspective will be inspiring for audiences. “None of us is perfect. We do the best we can in each situation. And if we remember that, about ourselves and about each other, I think we can all be kinder and stronger together.”
“I have always had respect for her as the wife of a prophet,” said Moyer, “an elect lady, the first president of the Relief Society and historical icon in LDS Church history. But I didn’t expect this deep reverent respect that I developed for her remarkable inner strength and unfailing charity.”
In addition to helping put in context Emma Smith’s life and decisions, the film will also help support the mission of the Joseph Smith, Jr. and Emma Hale Smith Historical Society, which is led by descendants of Joseph and Emma Smith. The Historical Society’s purpose lies in helping descendants (many of whom are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) understand the life, teachings and heritage of Joseph and Emma.
The movie was filmed last August and September at This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as in Nauvoo, Illinois. It is being distributed by Candlelight Media Group, the studio behind “Singing with Angels.” Find out more at InEmmasFootsteps.com, and tickets and showtimes at megaplextheatres.com/feature/1010432.