Killers of the Flower Moon Is a Disturbing Masterpiece

Revisiting an important piece of history, Killers of the Flower Moon is an adaptation based on the novel of the same name by David Grann, helmed by legendary director Martin Scorsese with his long filmography history surrounding gangster movies. Similar to some of Scorsese’s most notable films such as Goodfellas and The Departed, Killers of the Flower Moon is in fact a gangster movie even though it does not outright present itself as one. Killers of the Flower Moon recounts the exploitation of the indigenous Osage Nation in a gruesome manner where the villains were always in plain sight and gently smothers the Osage population for their own benefits without any sense of guilt.

Despite the lengthy runtime of Killers of the Flower Moon, there was not a single moment of the movie that felt unnecessary due to the tremendous performance of Leonardo Dicaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone. Focusing on Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo Dicaprio), the story follows the gullible and bumbling sidekick of William Hale King ( Robert De Niro), the main perpetrator and mastermind behind the exploitation of their victim. Ernest is neither a hero or a charismatic scoundrel unlike the roles Dicaprio garnered his fame from but rather a character that allows the viewers to follow his slow descent from a harmless man seeking to make a living into a ruthless cutthroat.

While the movie surrounds itself with bleak and disturbing themes of murders and betrayal, it never falls short of presenting the beauties of early twentieth century Osage Nation and their everyday life ranging from religious practices, wedding ceremony and various simple daily chores. Most of the exposition towards Osage culture centered around Lizzie Q (Tantoo Cardinal), whose disapproval towards the settlers and the assimilation into White American society is the most prominent throughout the story. The beauty of Osage culture is further encapsulated through Lizzie Q’s experience tethering between life and death; a masterful presentation of surrealism by Scorsese.

The historical accuracy of any real events depiction has always been a subject ranging from nitpicking to harsh criticisms and the reality is that a perfect depiction is unlikely due to reasons such as conflicting accounts and condensing events that spanned through a period of time within a movie runtime. Martin Scorsese concluded the movie without the usage of intertile unlike most real event depictions but with an assembly of old school radio show performing a commentary on the event, essentially taking the audiences out of the realistic tone they’ve gone comfortable with throughout the movie runtime. The change in pace with the artificiality of how a radio show played out contrasts the realism tone set by the movie served as a stark reminder of how the audiences are far removed from the horrors of the event and any adaptation or sources will never come close to the actual event.

Killers of the Flower Moon reminds its audiences of the uncomfortable truth and injustices done to the Osage Nation and challenges the world not to repeat histories and will forever serves as a piece of media that helped the industry moved forward leaving a message to the audience that indigenous property is not anyone else’s to exploit without their consent.