David Grann’s exceptional book, Killers of the Flower Moon, weaves together a complex narrative of human greed, true crime, and the racially motivated serial murders that played a role in the establishment of the FBI. Therefore, it seems inadequate to describe Martin Scorsese’s expansive film adaptation as merely his “first Western” which stars Robert De Niro, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
When it comes to recounting the tragic history of the Indigenous people in America, very few narratives manage to do justice to their story. Often, these accounts focus on the violence and suffering experienced by the victims, reducing their pain to mere entertainment. Some narratives even prioritize the white characters, relegating Native Americans to secondary roles. However, Killers of the Flower Moon, directed by Martin Scorsese, takes a different approach, avoiding many of these stereotypes. Scorsese is careful to present the story from multiple perspectives, including that of Mollie, portrayed by Lily Gladstone, who is a member of the Osage nation.
!! Spoilers ahead !!
Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro starrer Epic Reveals The Dark American History
Killers of the Flower Moon is a captivating account of a dark chapter in American history that took place between 1921 and 1925. The story centers around a sinister conspiracy to murder nearly sixty members of the Osage tribe. During the late 19th century, the Osage Indian Tribe of Oklahoma found themselves in possession of vast oil reserves on their land. This newfound wealth made them one of the wealthiest nations globally, which caused unease within the federal government.
Consequently, Caucasian guardians were appointed to oversee the tribe’s financial affairs, purportedly to offer assistance. Unfortunately, this immense wealth also fueled envy and resentment among neighboring communities who had not experienced the same fortune.
Tragically, the tensions escalated into violence when the body of a prosperous Osage woman was discovered in the woods in 1921. The brutality continued, leading to the deaths of at least sixty wealthy members of the Osage tribe by 1925. Recognizing the need for intervention, the FBI became involved in the investigation. Agent Tom White (Jesse Plemons) took charge and delved into the intricate web of deceit masterminded by local cattleman William Hale (Robert De Niro). Hale’s greed drove him to concoct a plan to seize control of the valuable Osage oil. In his pursuit of power, he even orchestrated the marriage between his nephew, Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), and Mollie Kile (Lily Gladstone), a native Osage woman, in an attempt to solidify his claim to the land.
In an interview with Deadline, Martin Scorsese said,
“What I responded to when I read David Grann’s book was the natural order of things. The idea that one could rationalize that if the Osage are not going to be of any use, if they’re going to be phased out anyway, why don’t we just, you know, help them go? And, ultimately, do we really feel any guilt for that? I don’t mean you and I, but when you’re doing what was being done to the Osage, and if you tend to dehumanize someone…”
Martin Scorsese Chose To Portray Human Nature
In an interview with Deadline, Martin Scorsese explained what he tried to portray in Killers of The Flower Moon. He wanted to tell a story that shows why hate was justified as a means to take over land and oil money and how culture had a role to play in that.
“Do [the Osage] behave differently, culturally? Yes, on all levels. There’s no way they could fit in to the European model, the capitalist model, in terms of money and private property. So, then [the attitude is] we’re coming, and we’re not going away. Either you join us, or you have to go. Now, we love and admire you, by the way, but it’s just that your time is up.
I heard someone recently say, when they fire an executive, well, their time is over. And the person behind that fired person, it’s their time. Is this the natural order of who we are as human beings?”
This shows the deep-rooted racism that pushed the white westerners to wipe out the Osage people due to their boosting wealth as it felt like an insult to their self-proclaimed cultural superiority.
Killers of The Flower Moon is slated to release on October 20, 2023.