Killers of the Flower Moon, the latest film by Martin Scorsese, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2023, to a nine-minute standing ovation. The film is based on the nonfiction book by David Grann, which chronicles a series of murders targeting Osage people in Oklahoma in the 1920s for their oil wealth. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone, along with a large cast of Indigenous actors, many of whom are members of the Osage Nation. The movie has been shot on location in Oklahoma and consulted closely with Osage citizens.
Killers of the Flower Moon is a crime saga that blends elements of Western, romance, thriller, and historical drama genres. It tells the story of Mollie Burkhart (Lily Gladstone), an Osage woman who is married to Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), a white man who works for his uncle Bill Hale (Robert De Niro), who is a powerful rancher who orchestrates a plot to kill Osage people and inherit their oil rights. The film explores the themes of greed, racism, colonialism, justice, and the personal and familial consequences of violence. Scorsese uses period-appropriate silent-film intertitles to provide historical context and Robbie Robertson’s bluesy score to create a sense of tension and urgency.
The film is a monumental achievement showcasing Scorsese’s filmmaking and storytelling mastery. Furthermore, it is a rare and important representation of Indigenous people and history on the big screen. It is not a surprise that the film has received critical acclaim and was hailed as one of Scorsese’s best works. It is expected to be a strong contender for the Academy Awards next year.