Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Prairie Home Companion

A Prairie Home Companion offers a quick look at one of the Midwest’s great sources of humorous stereotypes. Garrison Keillor has been taking us out to the middle of the country where Lutherans roam for more than two decades now, and this film. This film takes a different tack on PHC than a normal show, but one would have to do that unless one was just videotaping a real PHC show.

While one will not see much of the Midwest or Minnesota, one can get that sense of PHC’s take on the values of the Midwest. The reserved nature of the host is pitted against the wild lives of the singers. The homespun values of the quaint old radio show are pitted against the greed-driven values of the company that has bought the station and wants to close the show. Indeed a place is seen through much more than just the physical elements. The values by which life is lived are just as much an element of place as the mountains the trees.

Of course, one element that is real is Mickey’s Diner. This diner is at 36 W. Ninth St. in St. Paul. It was built in 1937-39 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. This unique feature of downtown St. Paul has a clear place in the film as a site for discussion.

In the end, the general consensus has been that a fan of the show will love the movie, while a stranger to the show will wonder what is going on.

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