Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon receives glowing praise from original author David Grann. Based on Grann’s non-fiction book of the same name, Killers of the Flower Moon centers on a series of Osage nation members being murdered after oil was discovered on their tribal land during the 1920s, and the subsequent investigation into the crimes in Oklahoma by the newly-created FBI. The film, which was directed by Scorsese from a screenplay he co-wrote with Eric Roth, features a star-studded cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, Brendan Fraser, John Lithgow, and Robert De Niro.


During a recent conversation with Vanity Fair, Grann opened up about his book serving as the source material for Scorsese’s latest epic. The Killers of the Flower Moon author, who visited Scorsese’s set for a few days, praised nearly every element of the film adaptation from the Osage Nation’s involvement, the cast’s performances, and the overall respect and understanding of history. Read what he shared below:

One of the things that was really most impressive and important in the development process was less my involvement, but the involvement of members of the Osage Nation. And early on, the Osage chief, Geoffrey Standing Bear, appointed several movie ambassadors from the Nation, from the government, to work with the movie folks. From everything I’ve heard, they really worked with a commitment to working with the Osage Nation, developing a story, even shooting on location. Many Osage are actually acting in the movie.

I did visit the set for a few days. And I was, again, just really impressed by how they managed to bring these historical figures to life and capture the hidden truths about the story. Leo just seemed to just be able to capture the nature of Ernest Burkhart, and the level of complicity of his character, and this evil system. And Lily Gladstone brings Mollie to life with such sensitivity and emotional power, at least in the bits I saw.

What I was struck by from Scorsese to the actors was the level of commitment and how much research they did to understand the parts and understand the history. They just seemed voracious, a little bit like historians, in their search for any knowledge, transcripts, documents, speaking to descendants, speaking with members of the Osage Nation. The film had Osage-language experts working with the actors to make sure they were able to teach them the language and that they got the language right, technically. I saw a scene where many of the tribal council members of the Osage Nation were speaking, and I think they contributed to a lot of that dialogue themselves.

What To Expect From Killers of the Flower Moon

There has only been one Killers of the Flower Moon image, but no footage released ahead of its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next month, so Grann sharing his eyewitness account is especially exciting. The original author had the opportunity to visit the set and witness the cast and crew at work in Oklahoma. Grann had particular praise for DiCaprio and his portrayal of the morally gray ranch hand, Ernest Burkhart, who slowly comes to realize he is more complicit in his connection to the Osage murders than he initially believes.

The author also singled out Gladstone for her sensitive and emotional performance as Mollie, an Osage woman who is married to Ernest Burkhart. The Killers of the Flower Moon cast features a number of Oscar winners and nominees in DiCaprio, De Niro, Plemons, Fraser, and Lithgow. Expect the ensemble cast to garner some serious attention come awards season, many are whom will be bringing real historical figures to life.

Grann’s comments also suggest that Scorsese’s adaptation is historically accurate as possible, which for a film about lesser-known but important historical events, is crucially important. To ensure the film was historically accurate, Grann championed Scorsese to collaborate with members of the Osage Nation during development and production. The result should be, as Grann says, a “bracing, breathtaking, and powerful” film when it opens in theaters on October 6, and with Killers of the Flowers Moon‘s runtime reportedly around four hours, it should have no trouble delivering.

Source: Vanity Fair

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