What Can Movie Fans Expect From Killers of the Flower Moon?
The latest Martin Scorsese masterpiece, Killers of the Flower Moon is a long-anticipated Western, bringing together two of the director’s favourite actors to bring this tale of how the West was really won to the big screen. Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro have worked with Scorsese separately many times; in gritty American pieces that have received widespread critical acclaim.
Co-writing the screenplay with the legendary Eric Roth, Scorsese has taken the story made famous by the true story of the murders of the Osage tribe that featured in the David Grann book of the same name.
Film fans have been waiting for seven years to see this finally come to fruition, but if the response to the film’s first showing at the Cannes Film Festival in May this year is anything to go by, the 206-minute long epic is definitely worth the wait.
Does Killers of the Flower Moon compare to other movies made by Scorsese and De Niro, like The Casino and The Irishman? Or the Scorsese and DiCaprio epics like Gangs of New York and Wolf of Wall Street? While it might not have people rushing to play a poker game online because of the inspiration like The Casino, there is a lot to be said about the portrayal of the way indigenous populations have been treated by the advancing white man looking for that black gold.
In this article, we will look at what the film is about, and what critics are saying about it, before it’s general release in October 2023.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Ernest; a man looking to make his fortune and settle down. Coming to stay with his uncle Hale (Robert De Niro), Ernest marries a member of the Osage tribe to get access to the rights of the oil under their lands.
This is a love story, but it is also a gritty tale of greed and morality where the real story of what happened to the 20 members of the Osage tribe who died over a five-year period. While the original book focused on the investigation by the burgeoning Bureau of Investigations (the precursor to the FBI), the film is more about the development of the relationships deep in Oklahoma, bringing home the shocking violence with the use of a sombre, insidious pace.
It is a Western, in the strictest sense of the term, but it is also a Scorsese film – so you can expect a black tragedy where De Niro and DiCaprio are complicit in multiple murders.
The Historical Accuracy
What happened to the Osage tribe is part of a saga that is mostly unheard – we know that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were forced from their fertile lands into the less fruitful areas.
This is a film that is not afraid to look at what really happened to those people who were relocated like this; the “Osage Reign of Terror” is just one example of the quiet erosion in the way we view what happened in the Western industrialisation.
The Osage tribe happened to relocate to a part of Oklahoma that was full of oil, making them immensely rich. They were travelling around in chauffeured vehicles and living the high life – until members of the tribe began dying of what was described as a ‘wasting disease’. Even when two members of the tribe were found with gunshot wounds, the government turned a blind eye, eventually sending one agent (Tom White, played by Jesse Plemons) to investigate.
The first viewing of Killers of the Flower Moon took place at Cannes, where it was met with a nine-minute standing ovation as the curtains came down.
This level of adoration is not something that Scorsese films have been known for, however – while he has directed some of the most quintessential American films focusing on crime, deceit, and what it really means to be an American, the movies themselves have never been made for the Cannes crowd.
However, the combination of darkness, the development of relationships, and the unapologetic look at what really happened during this dark period of American history has made it a sharp, if lengthy, epic. Other critics that have been able to get a viewing of the film have been unanimous of their support of this film too – and when it comes out, the anticipation and early response should make it a box office sensation.
Shot to be a throwback to the Westerns of the ‘70s and ‘80s, it is a cinematic wonder in terms of visuals – but it is the undeniable grittiness of the movie that gives it a whole new perspective.
Scorsese might be in his 80s now, but the visionary director has balanced this innovative and unexpected film to be more of a love story than a crime procedural, sticking to the facts and giving us a look at what really happened to those tribe membe