What is Killers of the Flower Moon about?
A new film by America’s greatest living director is always cause for celebration, and anticipation for Martin Scorsese’s latest movie, Killers of the Flower Moon, has been running white hot. But what is it actually about?
A true story adapted from the acclaimed 2017 non-fiction book of the same title by The New Yorker writer David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon examines a campaign of terror and murder waged against the indigenous Osage people of Oklahoma during the 1920s. Originally shunted off onto a seemingly worthless reservation by the US government, the Osage became the richest people in America after oil was discovered on their land during the great boom of the early 20th century. And wouldn’t you know it, tribe members started dying under mysterious circumstances all of a sudden, their land and mineral rights being funnelled into the hands of white business interests through a series of exploitative legal manoeuvres. At least 60 people died or disappeared between 1921 and 1926.
This prompted an investigation from the nascent Bureau of Investigation, the precursor to the modern FBI, with a young J. Edgar Hoover dispatching former Texas Ranger Tom White (the consistently great Jesse Plemons) to find out what’s what. And so we proceed from there.
A shocking tale of greed, racism, and brutality, Grann’s book is a thoroughly engrossing read, the scale of the campaign against the Osage only matched by the sheer callousness of the crimes committed. Now, we don’t want to get into spoiler territory necessarily, but a) it’s all in the historical record, and b) the trailer clearly indicates we should keep a close eye on Robert de Niro’s avaricious businessman, William Hale, and his World War One veteran nephew, Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio making his sixth collaboration with Scorsese). Burkhart’s marriage to Osage woman Mollie (Lily Gladstone) puts him in line to inherit her share of the Osage wealth should anything unfortunate happen to her.
So, there you have it. Killers of the Flower Moon is a sprawling true crime story, an epic historical western, and a damning indictment of white greed. We are absolutely here for it.