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Under The Banner Of Heaven - What We Know So Far

Another powerful work from notable nonfiction author Jon Krakauer is coming to our screens in the near future. Krakauer's name might ring a bell thanks to the massive success of his 1996 book "Into the Wild." Following its release in the mid-'90s, the book was adapted into a 2007 featured film written and directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch. Primarily known for his nonfiction work, Krakauer has become a bestselling author whose work sheds light on communities many of us have little contact with in our daily lives.

Audiences will soon get acquainted with another one of Krakauer's works, "Under the Banner of Heaven," when it premieres exclusively on FX on Hulu in the near future. News of the television adaptation of Krakauer's 2003 book was announced in late June by Deadline. Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black will not only write the script but will also serve as an executive producer on the project. David Mackenzie, the director behind Chris Pine's gritty crime drama "Hell or High Water," will direct all episodes. In a statement shared via FX's press release on the "Under the Banner of Heaven" limited series, Black expressed his excitement at finally getting this project on its feet: "After so many years of work, I'm incredibly grateful to Imagine and FX for their patience with and commitment to bringing this story to screen. Raised in the LDS faith, my hope is that this true-crime thriller might shed light on the horrific brutalities perpetrated in the name of God in our own backyards."

So, what is FX's "Under the Banner of Heaven" about? Here's what we know, including the release date, cast, and plot.

What is the release date for Under the Banner of Heaven?

At the time of its announcement, "Under the Banner of Heaven" had yet to receive a release date. This isn't too surprising, considering the series is still in the early stages of production. Also, it's more typical in the world of television for release dates to be set near the end of filming or around the time the first trailer is released. As such, prospective viewers interested in watching "Under the Banner of Heaven" can expect to hear more about a release date once the limited series has wrapped on filming, at the earliest. When it comes to the filming schedule, we could estimate that filming may start in late 2021 or early 2022 and wrap sometime in mid-2022. The limited series will likely be positioned as a prestige project, given the pedigree of the names associated with the cast and crew, which means we could see FX set a release date for late 2022 or early 2023 to coincide with awards season.

Who is in the Under the Banner of Heaven cast?

Two solid and eminently watchable talents have signed on to star in "Under the Banner of Heaven." Thanks to FX's press release on the upcoming limited series, we know "Under the Banner of Heaven" will star Andrew Garfield and Daisy Edgar-Jones. The Oscar-nominated Garfield, who will be seen later this year in "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" and "tick, tick...Boom!," will play a man known as Pyre, who is described as "an LDS elder who is committed to his Church and family but begins to question some of the Church's teachings through his contact with a suspected murderer." As for Edgar-Jones, who wowed audiences in 2020 thanks to her riveting performance in Hulu's "Normal People," she will play Brenda, "a young faithful Mormon who is the victim of a brutal murder."

Now that "Under the Banner of Heaven" has been given a green light by FX and secured Garfield and Edgar-Jones in two of the lead roles, we should be learning more on the casting front in a couple of months. Based on the descriptions of the characters Garfield and Edgar-Jones will be playing, it seems like there are a few more lead roles to fill — specifically, the two Mormon Fundamentalist brothers who murder a woman and her child — in addition to key supporting cast members. We should hear more on those casting announcements in the coming months, with casting hopefully wrapping up by the end of 2021.

What is the plot of Under the Banner of Heaven?

As previously mentioned, FX's "Under the Banner of Heaven" will be adapted by Dustin Lance Black from Jon Krakauer's nonfiction book of the same name. Per Goodreads, the story at the heart of Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven" is described as "an appalling double murder committed by two Mormon Fundamentalist brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a revelation from God commanding them to kill their blameless victims." 

Krakauer's book investigates this grisly murder committed by the Lafferty brothers in the early 1980s, including the events which led to its occurrence. "Under the Banner of Heaven" also explores the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the culture that has formed around the church. As a result of Krakauer's investigation, "Under the Banner of Heaven" brings readers up close to the world of Mormon Fundamentalists and its ideological underpinnings. It's unclear if the FX adaptation of Krakauer's book will expand its focus in the same way, but it's reasonable to believe that at least some of Krakauer's findings could be woven into the retelling of the murder story at the heart of the limited series in order to explore some of the story's thematic concerns around faith and belief.