Adapt This!

I just finished reading Jon Krakauer’s controversial (a word I keep pronouncing con-tro-ver-see-al, despite many admonitions and declarations of self-hatred) Under the Banner of Heaven. And rather than a fictional adaptation of the book (like the recent, smug Into the Wild) I’d like to see a detailed documentary about both the subject matter and the writing/researching/consequences of the book itself.

Remembering the outcry about Under the Banner of Heaven in the LDS community, and reading the reviews on Good Reads, I’ve found that Mormons really hate this book. Which, to me, seems to exacerbate the unflattering thesis Krakauer proposes – namely, that religious extremes can encourage violence and irrational thought. Like Krakauer points out in his notes at the end of his study, secretiveness about Mormon history only seems to further the uncomfortable mystery behind the church and its origins.

While Under the Banner of Heaven was fascinating to me in a lot of ways, I’d be even more interested in the book that could follow: The Making of Under the Banner of Heaven. If only books were like DVDs with hours and hours of extras, making-of docs, and voice-over commentaries. I’d love to hear and see the reactions to the book. Perhaps more detail about how LDS and FLDS members react to the violent incidents in their histories.

Rendition of the "Mountain Meadows Massacre" - a dark spot in Mormon history.

Yes, it would probably be fairly easy to get more than enough information from the internet to satisfy my curiosity. But just like a popular best-selling author like Krakauer has the ability to bring information to light that would otherwise collect dust on local bookshelves, a documentary backed by Krakauer could be just as influential.



Filed under Adapt This, Whitney

5 responses to “Adapt This!

  1. brian

    i had an idea, after reading this book a few years ago, to make a mormon (related) murder movie trilogy. the first movie in the trilogy would be an adaption of this book. second movie would be about the salamander letters and mark hoffman bombings. and the final installment of the trilogy would be a kind of odd-couple comedy about mark hoffman and the living lafferty brother sharing a cell in that prison in draper (because they really are cellmates).

    what’s interesting about the under the banner of heaven is how different the lafferty’s are from not just the mainstream lds, but also the profound differences between the lafferty’s attempts at re-instituting plural marriage and the already existing flds communities. there’s that part where i think the two main brothers take an extended road-trip visiting all sorts of polygamist and polyandrous groups all throughout america and canada and how most of these groups have zero connection to either the lds or flds church. if i remember correctly, the lafferty brothers experiment with recreational drugs during this period.

  2. Krakauer represents the groups they visit as being connected to the lds church in some way (through Joseph Smith). Like the community up in British Columbia follows the same prophet (now Warren Jeffs, I think) that the group in Colorado City supports. But you’re right about the recreational drugs. Ron starts drinking wine heavily and they both smoke a lot of pot.

    I was actually surprised how so many offshoots of the LDS church started pretty much the same way. Someone started getting way into church history and the older presidents of the church and wanted to take mormonism a step further (or, really, a step back). So they started getting revelations, see themselves as prophets following the true church, and somehow convince others to feel the same way. I wonder if, in the case of the Laffertys especially, part of their obsession is about the power of being at the head of a religion, and not just a follower. And it’s always shocking to me how easily their wives seem to go along with the whole thing. I think the story of Ron’s wife being forced to wear dresses and churn butter was so depressing.

    And I would totally get behind that trilogy. It sounds amazing. Your best movie idea ever.

    • brian

      it’s been a while. maybe it wasn’t the plural marriage groups the lafferty brothers visited, but i thought that i read in that book that most polyandrous groups in the united states are not related to the lds church. like there are more kind of hippie communes where they all share partners or something.

      but i do agree that the lds church spawns all these splinter groups. i think it’s because of the idea of personal revelation. like, if (you think) god calls you as a prophet, then you’re a prophet. but , ya know, you have to beware of false spirits or whatever. but, in cases like this, i think a lot of it goes back wanting (to seem) power(ful) so you proclaim yourself as god’s (new) prophet.

      and, in that book, are the brothers involved with that one dude who is obsessed with nephite treasure buried somewhere in the unitahs? or is that a different book?

      • They were involved with something called the “Dream Mine” in Spanish Fork Canyon. I actually went there on a geology hike once. I didn’t see any gold, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there!

        I’m sure you’re right most polyandrous groups not being LDS affiliated. A lot of the cults I’ve read about have polygamy involved somehow (even if it’s only a bunch of women married to the leader). I’d like to read about how it works in hippie communes. Right now I’ve only really heard about the negatives of polygamy.

        Krakauer actually talked about the personal revelation aspect, too, and how when Joseph Smith originally taught in personal revelation, he saw the possible effects right away. People started breaking off from the beginning. I think all the early church history is so interesting. I want to read more.

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