“Killers of the Flower Moon” is journalist David Grann’s gripping investigative account of the series of murders of Osage people in the 1920s. The critically acclaimed true crime nonfiction received praise for its masterful chronicle of one of the darkest chapters in the United States.
The inevitable big-screen adaptation was announced four years ago Martin Scorsese connected as director, writer and producer. Expectations skyrocketed when his signature actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, were announced as cast members. “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Scorsese’s Western crime, is a brilliant meditation on the original sin of a nation struggling to leave its borders and enter the modern era.
View this post on Instagram
Members of the Osage Nation became the richest people per capita in the world after the discovery of oil deposits on their tribal lands in Oklahoma. Each member earned a head title – previously non-transferable to non-tribal citizens – entitling them to a quarterly share of the Osage Mineral Estate. Soon the reign of terror began as a series of murders targeting wealthy and healthy tribal members terrorized the peaceful and prosperous life of the Osage Nation.
As with his previous projects, Scorsese turned to his frequent collaborators. Rodrigo Prieto served as cinematographer; and the late Robbie Robertson scored the film. The original score features generous percussion and a harmonica performance by Frederic Yonnet.
Marking his first professional relationship with the director, veteran screenwriter Eric Roth delivered a riveting dissection of a nation founded on colonization, capitalism, racial tensions and the patriarchal structure as evidenced by the murders of the Osage people.
DiCaprio and De Niro are both excellent and the irredeemable Burkharts. But the heart and soul of the film is Lily Gladstone’s haunting performance. Her heartbreaking presence on screen is an emotional mosaic of endless pain.
In one of the most poignant scenes, citizens of the Osage Nation watch a newsreel about the horrific Tulsa riots that decimated Oklahoma’s thriving black commercial district, occurring at the same time as the Osage reign of terror. The parallels are undeniable: despite their economic status, people of color were murdered because white people viewed them as less than human.
The intention of the film is unmistakable. Scorsese’s latest masterpiece is an unflinching look at the bottomless pit of human greed, forcing audiences to confront the horrors of colonization and capitalism. There are zero “good white people” in the film from whom racism and genocide advocates can take comfort. ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is as brave and essential as it is epic. EDV