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Film / The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shepherd

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The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shepherd is a 2000 film produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and directed by Kieth Merrill. It is based on events described in The Book of Mormon, though the characters and storyline are non-canonical. It follows Helam, a man of faith, and his doubting son Jacob, who is given a position of wealth as an artisan for the Society of Kohor. The story runs parallel to events in The Four Gospels. It is popular as a proselyting tool for Latter-Day Saint missionaries.

This film provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Kohor may be an evil schemer, but he seems to genuinely care for Jacob, encouraging him to pursue Laneah and trying multiple times to convince Jacob to join him.
  • Age Cut: Helam is seen as a teenager in the beginning, and then it cuts 33 years later when he's a father.
  • All for Nothing: All the riches Jacob gained by sacrificing his faith to work for Kohor get lost or destroyed in the disasters that hit the countryside at Jesus' death.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: When Helam tries to stop Jacob from working for Kohor, Kohor deftly shuts him down.
    Kohor: I thought your "one true God" gave you freedom to choose.
  • Art Imitates Art: The scenes of Jesus' ministry are based on works of art commonly used in the LDS Church, particularly the paintings of Danish artist Carl Bloch.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: The camera cuts away right as Amaron gets killed.
  • Big Bad: Kohor is the main physical and spiritual obstacle of the story, plotting to kill the governor and become king and his influence driving Jacob away from his faith in Christ.
  • Brotherhood of Evil: The Society of Kohor is a "brotherhood" that plans to overthrow the government and kill those who believe Jesus will come.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Kohor says Amaron hides in the jungle "like a frightened curelom".note 
  • Cool Helmet: Kohor wears a neat wooden jaguar one when plotting with his Society.
  • Crisis of Faith: Jacob doesn't understand why God let his mother die, or why there has to be a Messiah.
  • Cue the Sun: Right as Mary Magdalene sees the resurrected Jesus, the sun rises in the Americas, showing the Darkest Hour has ended.
  • Darkest Hour: The government is overthrown, the city burns, natural disasters rock the land, Helam may just have gotten killed by falling debris, and off on the other side of the world, Jesus just got crucified.
  • Death by Irony: Kohor wants Jacob to carve Kohor's achievements to "grant [him] immortality". During the climax, Jacob's stone carving falls on Kohor.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Amaron's death. He has time to give some final words of faith to Helam before he goes.
  • Divine Intervention:
    • Numerous scenes of Jesus working miracles are shown.
    • Kohor's plan to overthrow the government goes off without a hitch and is only derailed by the large-scale devastation that occurs after Jesus' death.
    • At the finale, Helam's blindness is cured by Jesus.
  • Disturbed Doves: Used to signify Amaron's assassination.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Kohor. He starts out as a Cold Ham, but morphs into full-on shouting hamminess when meeting with his "brotherhood."
  • Foreshadowing: After Jesus heals the blind man, the scene fades out so the blind man's face becomes Helam's.
  • The Ghost: Laneah's father is mentioned several times, but is never seen (or at least, never pointed out to the characters or audience.) It can be inferred he gets killed in the destruction after Christ's death.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: The believers, the governor, and Kohor, respectively. The governor's faction may not be supportive of the believers but they still oppose Amaron's murder and uphold the law, putting them at odds with Kohor.
  • Healing Hands: Jesus Christ has these, just like he does in The Bible. He uses them to heal Helam's blindness.
  • The Hero: Jacob is technically the protagonist, but it's Helam who's the moral center of the film, looking out for Amaron (and later bringing his murderer to justice), then rescuing Jacob during the destruction following Jesus' death. Fittingly, the finale of the film isn't anything to do with Jacob, but Helam finally getting his lifelong wish: seeing Jesus with his own eyes.
  • Honor Before Reason: Jacob waits until Amaron's done teaching to warn him (or Helam) Kohor's friends are plotting to kill him. The crucial few minutes of head start Amaron gets walking home while Jacob is talking to Helam ends up being the difference that makes Helam too late to save him.
  • I Never Told You My Name:
    • When Laneah first apparently meets Jacob:
      Laneah: You did not ask my name.
      Jacob: I know your name.
    • A rare heartwarming variation occurs at the very end of the film: Jesus already knows Helam's name without being told it.
  • Ironic Echo: Helam tells Jacob, "In your new kingdom I cannot be your father, but wherever you go, you will always be my son." Later:
    Helam: Kohor, where's my son?
    Kohor: If you do not know perhaps he is no longer your son!
  • The Kingslayer: The Society of Kohor kills the governor, throwing the city into chaos.
  • Leitmotif: The tune that Laneah sings becomes her leitmotif.
  • Makeup Is Evil: When Jacob first speaks to Laneah and she persuades him to work for Kohor, she has heavier makeup and dark eyeshadow, indicating she's a bad guy. When she's next seen listening to Amaron and for the rest of the movie afterward, she no longer has the eyeshadow, showing she's a good guy.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Amaron, Helam's mentor, gets killed about a third of the way through the movie.
  • Morality Pet: Mara to Jacob. Even though working for Kohor puts Jacob at odds with Helam, he still gives Mara gifts to show he cares about his family.
  • Offstage Villainy: Kohor's murder of the governor takes place offscreen.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: At first, Helam shrugs off Jacob's warning that Amaron is in danger, but when Jacob tells him Kohor is afraid for him, Helam goes off to warn him.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: Downplayed. Jacob sees Laneah in the river, but she's mostly clothed and picking lilies.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Jacob effectively makes two decisions in the film: 1) to join Kohor and 2) later, to not join Kohor. Neither makes much of a difference in the long run. He spends most of the story doing what people tell him and ultimately needs to be rescued by Helam, who's much more proactive.
  • Pet the Dog: Kohor encourages Jacob to propose to Laneah, and he does give Jacob an opportunity to warn Amaron.
  • Recognizable by Sound: Helam is immediately able to recognize the resurrected Jesus by the sound of his voice alone.
  • Sacred Scripture: The writings of the prophets in the place of the records.
  • Scenery Gorn: After Jesus' death, all sorts of destruction gets wreaked in the Americas, ending with an impressive shot of the Mesoamerican pyramids on fire.
  • Scenery Porn: The film is set "somewhere in the Americas", so naturally it has shots of Mesoamerican pyramids.
  • Skepticism Failure:
    • Jacob doesn't believe in his father's faith, but is proven wrong once Christ appears to them.
    • Helam doesn't believe he'll see the Messiah after he loses his sight, but Christ appears and heals him.
  • Smoking Gun: Helam presents a button which Amaron tore from the man who killed him, which matches a missing button from one of the accused.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Jacob stalks Laneah and throws stones close to her in the river.
  • Swapped Roles: Jacob starts out as a believer in Christ while Laneah isn't. During the middle act of the film, they switch.
  • Temporary Blindness: Helam is blinded in the disasters following Christ's death, but Christ heals him.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Jesus Christ's life and ministry is told in parallel to events in the Americas.
  • What If?: If Jacob simply told Helam or Amaron immediately about Kohor's warning, Amaron may not have died, Kohor's friend wouldn't have been arrested and charged for murder, Kohor wouldn't need to overthrow the governor to save him from execution, Jacob wouldn't get caught by the Brotherhood, and Helam wouldn't need to go save him and get blinded in the attempt.