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Killers of the Flower Moon: Is Leonardo DiCaprio’s Terrifying New Movie Based on a True Story?

Killers of the Flower Moon: Is Leonardo DiCaprio’s Terrifying New Movie Based on a True Story?

Killers of the Flower Moon is one of the most anticipated movies of this year and marks the sixth collaboration between Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese. The movie based on the book of the same name by David Grann explores the horrors faced by the Osage tribe after oil was found. The story is centered around an actual conspiracy to eliminate a large section of the tribal nation and exposes a dark chapter leading to the FBI’s birth.

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)
Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

David Grann’s story takes us to the 1920s, essentially called the “Reign of Terror” by the tribe. Killers of the Flower Moon has reportedly been a critical hit at the 76th Cannes Film Festival with some also calling it Leonardo DiCaprio’s best performance yet. The Titanic star portrays the role of Ernest Burkhart in the film who is one of the most crucial elements of the conspiracy.

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Spoilers of Killers of the Flower Moon Ahead!

What’s the truth behind Leonardo DiCaprio’s upcoming movie?

Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon
Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon has raised anticipation among fans who are excited to watch two of Scorsese’s greatest collaborators Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro coming together. Both of them are at the center of this dark tale and represent greed and corruption. The Taxi Driver filmmaker used David Grann’s book to devise a story that never fails to shock the audience when they realize it’s all real.

The story starts after petroleum is discovered under the Osage Tribal Land in modern-day Oklahoma. This led the Government to impose unfair and strict laws to regulate the tribal people who were the richest people per capita in the world at that time. But trouble arises when this leads to invaders coming to Osage County due to the “guardianship” law which was the epitome of a corrupted system.

Things went South when two members of the community Anna Brown and Charles Whitehorn were mysteriously killed. This kickstarted the “Reign of Terror” which was nothing less than a nightmare and was aimed at wiping up the entire tribe. Anna Brown was the sister of Mollie Burkhart played by Lily Gladstone in the movie who is also the wife to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Ernest Burkhart. She is at the core of everything and has a very tragic life story as her husband was found to be one of the key conspirators in the whole case.

Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro as William Hale

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Ernest Burkhart was the nephew of the “King of the Osage Hills” William Hale portrayed by Robert De Niro. Hale, assisted by nephew Ernest and some others, was the one behind the 24 confirmed Oklahoma murders that still send shivers down the spine.

It was the bombing at Mollie’s sister Rita’s house proved to be a significant element in the case. The bombing killed Rita Smith, her husband Bill, and their servant Nettie Brookshire and it also led to the tribe requesting the Department of Justice for help. This also led to the arrival of Tom White in the tale who was appointed by the then head J. Edgar Hoover of a newly formed Bureau of Investigation (presently FBI). Eventually, White along with a group of agents he collected cracks the case and the entire conspiracy is exposed.

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What was the aftermath of the case?

The cast and crew of the film at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival
The cast and crew of the film at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival

The exposed conspiracy showed the real faces of William Hale, Ernest Burkhart, and his brother Bryan Burkhart. This led Mollie alone to be a witness to her family getting killed one after another. Even though she was also subjected to slow poisoning, she was saved and divorced Ernest Burkhart amidst the trial. Following that, she remarried again in 1928 before passing away at the age of 50.

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William Hale, even after being a powerful man couldn’t save himself from the consequences of his actions. On the other hand, Mollie and Ernest Burkhart’s story is a heartbreaking tale of betrayal at its best.

As per the reports of The Hollywood Reporter, the movie received a nine-minute standing ovation. Leonardo DiCaprio and the others were praised for their performances and Scorsese’s direction received immense appreciation which was largely focused on the Osage culture and less on the story of Tom White.

Killers of the Flower Moon will be released on October 20, 2023.

Source: Entertainment Weekly / The Hollywood Reporter

Written by Subham Mandal

Subham Mandal is currently working as a writer for FandomWire with an ardent interest in the world of pop culture. Subham has written more than 600 articles on different spheres of modern pop culture and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in English based in Kolkata. He’s also an experienced student journalist having demonstrated work experience with the Times of India. He aspires to be a column writer in the future.