Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Order of Myths, A Film by Margaret Brown

One of the attractions of running a film discussion group at a public library is getting to show works that were not widely distributed. Not all of our out-of-the-mainstream offering draw a crowd, though we have regulars who trust our selections. It was quite satisfying to get our largest attendance of the year so far for a film with possibly the least name recognition of our series, The Order of Myths, a documentary by Mobile, Alabama native Margaret Brown about her city's 300 year-old of Mardi Gras.

When people think about Mardi Gras, they usually think about New Orleans. No one at our discussion was aware before our publicity for the program that Mobile even had a Mardi Gras much less the oldest in the country. The film puts any doubts about the event being minor to rest. Mardi Gras in Mobile is a huge event with spectacular costumes and floats, and the society balls are spectacularly expensive. Some people work year-round preparing for the next season, and huge warehouse store the floats. It's a grand tradition, and people in Mobile love their traditions.

Racial separation is also a tradition in Mobile, as it is across much of the U.S. Throughout the film, which follows the events of one Mardi Gras season, many whites comment about how there is no problem between races in Mobile. Some blacks agree, and some blacks do not. Brown lets them all have their say in her thoughtful documentary. Viewers are left to judge for themselves whether the status quo is working well for everyone.

Thanks to Brown's reserve, The Order of Myths is a great film for discussion, as the viewers do not all reach the same conclusions. It is also very entertaining for viewers who like behind-the-scenes looks at unusual communities. More libraries should add the DVD to their collections.

The Order of Myths. Cinema Guild, 2009. ISBN 9781567304923.

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