A murder among the Mormons, a reflection of the tensions of America yesterday and today

A murder among the Mormons, a reflection of the tensions of America yesterday and today


When religious extremism leads to crime. Disney+ released the mini-series By order of God (an original version: Under the banner of heaven) which tells the story of a double murder, that of a young woman and her child, within the American Mormon community.

Based on a true story

This is a true story, originally told in the book Under the Banner of Heavenby Jon Krakauer (also author of the book In naturewhich inspired the film of the same name). This is screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, Oscar winner in 2008 for Harvey Milkwho is behind the adaptation and who signs the script for the American channel Effects.

The year is 1984. Brenda Wright, a young woman from Idaho, marries Allen Lafferty, a member of a respected and influential Mormon family in the very conservative state of Utah. But the independence of spirit of the young woman displeases her in-laws, and in particular some of her brothers-in-law, invested in an extremist movement of religion.

In the series as in the book, By order of God intertwines the story of the news item with that of the Mormon religion, created by Joseph Smith shortly before 1830. The scenario focuses in particular on the internal struggles between the “mainstream” branch of the religion and a more fundamentalist branch, which advocates especially polygamy. A fracture which crosses the Lafferty family, and which is at the origin of the drama.

A duo of totally fictitious investigators

This story is personal for Dustin Lance Black, husband in the city of British diving champion Tom Daley. The creator of the series grew up in the Mormon faith, raised by his mother, whose strength of character reminds him of the latter. If he wanted to portray the character of Brenda Wright Lafferty as faithfully as possible, Dustin Lance Black took artistic liberties for the investigation part.

Thus, the duo of investigators, played by Andrew Garfield (The social network, Spider Man) and Gil Birmingham (Dusk, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) is purely fictional. In an interview on the site Hollywood journalistthe screenwriter specifies: “The real investigators of the time helped us with our research, but did not want to appear in the mini-series, which in a way was a gift. The screenwriter then created a tandem composed of Detective Pyre (Garfield) and a convinced Mormon who, over the course of the investigation, begins to doubt his own faith, and Detective Taba (Birmingham), a Paiute Indian, non- Mormon.

A parable of the current situation in the United States

For the screenwriter, this story is also a parable of the rise of extremism in the United States today. “With this series, at this precise moment, I absolutely denounce the Supreme Court of the United States which made us return to a time in history when we were not as informed as today, explains. he has Hollywood journalist. It is a dangerous path that we see our Court taking. This is the path the Lafferty brothers took and it ended in blood. »

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