Watch Killers of the Flower Moon
- 3 hr 26 min
Killers of the Flower Moon is a much-anticipated crime drama from the acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese, released in 2023. The film, adapted from the non-fiction book of the same name by David Grann, is a historical account that transports its audience to the 1920s, against the backdrop of the Osage County in Oklahoma. The movie features a stellar cast, including the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone, who breathe life into a haunting narrative that exposes one of America’s most chilling and underreported crimes.
As the film opens, we are introduced to the rich and biologically diverse landscape of Oklahoma, where the Osage Nation had been relocated to lands deemed worthless—until the discovery of vast oil reserves beneath their territory. With the prosperity brought by their oil rights, the Osage people find themselves in an unprecedented position of wealth for an Indigenous tribe at that time.
Leonardo DiCaprio steps into the shoes of Ernest Burkhart, a complex character who is at the center of the unfolding drama. Burkhart is a man caught between two worlds—the world of his powerful uncle and the allure of his love for Mollie Burkhart, portrayed by Lily Gladstone, an Osage woman. Mollie’s character becomes the empathetic core of the story as she experiences the mounting tension and tragedy that befalls her people.
Robert De Niro delivers a compelling performance as William Hale, a formidably influential rancher with deep ties to the local community and the heart of its sinister secrets. His character is an embodiment of the unchecked American greed and exploitation that marks this dark chapter in history.
Scorsese masterfully captures the duality of the era - a time of great progress and yet, a time marked by greed and prejudice. The Osage people’s newfound wealth attracts a series of unspeakable acts, with mysterious deaths that begin to escalate into a systemic and targeted series of murders. This string of attacks, later called the "Reign of Terror,” not only threatens the Osage community but also exposes the harrowing depths of racial injustice.
The film also dives into the investigation of these tragic events, at a time when the modern FBI was coming into its own under the guidance of a young J. Edgar Hoover. The agency’s evolving methods of crime solving, along with the dogged determination of the lawmen on the case, provide a fascinating glimpse into the early mechanics of criminal investigation—and its collision with institutional corruption and the dynamics of power in rural America.
Scorsese’s direction ensures that the subtle beauty of the Osage hills contrasts the pervasive sense of dread that the film evokes. As the narrative weaves its complex tapestry of family ties, financial intrigue, and moral ambiguity, the audience is placed uncomfortably close to the insidious ways in which societal systems fail to protect the marginalized.
The visual storytelling is notably enriched by the costume and production design, which is meticulously crafted to reflect the 1920s era authentically. The vibrant culture of the Osage Nation is juxtaposed with the encroaching modernity brought by the oil boom, and the result is a stark portrayal of a historic clash of civilizations.
The character arcs are steeped in tragedy, with DiCaprio, De Niro, and Gladstone delivering performances that are both grounded and gripping. DiCaprio’s Burkhart is at once vulnerable and complicit, struggling with internal conflicts that mirror the broader societal tensions. Gladstone’s portrayal of Mollie Burkhart is the embodiment of resilience, layering her role with strength and profound emotional depth. De Niro’s William Hale is charismatic yet chilling, representing the darkest aspects of the American frontier’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Killers of the Flower Moon, with its ambitious scope and scathing social commentary, confronts viewers with the uncomfortable truths it presents. It is not merely a tale of crime and punishment, but a larger examination of the American dream gone awry. The film serves not just as entertainment, but as a historical lens offering reflection on the past's unresolved issues that resonate to this day.
With powerful performances, compelling direction, and a narrative that is as educational as it is thrilling, Killers of the Flower Moon is a significant addition to the canon of American historical films. It succeeds in shedding light on an almost forgotten chapter of American history, ensuring that the story of the Osage Nation and their struggle for justice is not lost to time.
Killers of the Flower Moon is a 2023 crime movie with a runtime of 3 hours and 26 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.8 and a MetaScore of 89.