The highly anticipated historical crime drama Killers of the Flower Moon finally premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year after years in development. Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, the film tackles the chilling true story of a series of murders targeting the oil-wealthy Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma.
Let’s take an in-depth look at everything we know so far about this sprawling epic and its journey to the big screen.
Origins of the Film Adaptation
According to Wikipedia, the film rights to David Grann’s 2017 non-fiction book Killers of the Flower Moon were acquired by Imperative Entertainment in 2016 for $5 million.
By April 2017, Scorsese, DiCaprio, and De Niro were attached to the high-profile adaptation with Paramount set to distribute. However, production delays related to Scorsese’s film The Irishman pushed the start date back multiple times.
In 2019, Apple TV+ signed on to co-finance and co-distribute the ambitious period piece, budgeted at $200 million.
All-Star Cast Assembles
Joining Scorsese’s dream team of DiCaprio and De Niro is rising star Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart, per IMDb. The impressive supporting cast includes Jesse Plemons, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, and many more.
DiCaprio went to great lengths to secure the role of Ernest Burkhart instead of the FBI agent role originally planned for him. Meanwhile, De Niro portrays the sinister cattleman William Hale.
Production Spans Two Years
Principal photography for Killers of the Flower Moon finally commenced in April 2021 after years of delays, as covered by Wikipedia.
Filming took place on location in Osage County, Oklahoma, the site of the real murders. Production wrapped in October 2021 after a lengthy shoot capturing the film’s epic scope.
Director Martin Scorsese worked closely with the Osage Nation to portray their history accurately. The indigenous people acted as consultants and appeared on screen in important cultural roles.
Powerhouse Talents Behind the Camera
In addition to heavyweights Scorsese, DiCaprio, and De Niro, the crew features top talents like cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and production designer Jack Fisk, IMDb details.
Frequent Scorsese collaborator Robbie Robertson composed the soundtrack. Design choices aimed to recreate 1920s Oklahoma authentically.
Trailers Showcase Haunting Tale
The atmospheric first trailer released in July 2023 highlights the sinister mystery unfolding and the sweeping cinematic vision. DiCaprio and Gladstone’s tense dynamic takes center stage.
A second trailer offers more perspective on De Niro’s intimidating cattle baron character. The ominous tone and explosive confrontations promise an intense viewing experience.
Thoroughly Acclaimed by Critics
Killers of the Flower Moon received a rapturous response when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2023. As Rotten Tomatoes reports, it currently holds an incredible 97% critics rating.
Reviewers praised the absorbing narrative, incredible attention to historical detail, outstanding performances, profound themes, and Scorsese’s masterful direction. The only frequent critique was the nearly 3.5 hour runtime.
Brutal True Story Comes to Life
Scorsese’s adaptation aims to shed light on the shocking murders of Osage Nation citizens after oil was discovered on their Oklahoma land in the 1920s, as covered by Wikipedia.
Up to 60 tribe members were killed in a murder spree that became known as the “Reign of Terror.” The newly created FBI struggled to solve the complex conspiracy orchestrated by wealthy white opportunists.
Bringing this painful history to the screen required sensitivity and an unflinching look at racial injustice. Scorsese strove to portray the events accurately through deep collaboration with the Osage community.
Themes of Greed, Betrayal, and Inequality
At its core, Killers of the Flower Moon explores the abuse of power and oppression of marginalized groups throughout history. The film confronts “the birth of the American century” and the systems that enabled such atrocities according to critic Peter Bradshaw.
As America expanded westward, the settlers’ greed and racism had devastating consequences when oil was struck in Osage territory. The film illuminates how societal inequities and prejudices led to the Reign of Terror against tribes.
Stellar Performances Bring Characters to Life
From DiCaprio’s complex Ernest Burkhart to De Niro’s domineering cattle baron, the A-list stars deliver outstanding performances per The Hollywood Reporter’s review.
But relative newcomer Lily Gladstone draws particular praise for her “performance of tragic force” as Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman caught in the conspiracy’s web. Her emotional performance anchors the film.
An Artistic and Thematic Triumph for Scorsese
Martin Scorsese doesn’t have much left to prove at this point in his career. But according to critics, Killers of the Flower Moon represents another career high mark displaying his masterful directing skills.
IndieWire calls the film “both a staggering piece of cinema and an urgent social probe and trial that is universal despite its historic and cultural specificity. It’s magnificent.”
Scorsese’s extensive collaboration with indigenous advisors results in his most sensitive exploration of identity and injustice. This haunting epic provides a definitive take on the director’s signature themes of corruption and man’s capacity for violence when power goes unchecked.
Release Date and Where to Watch
After its premiere at Cannes, Killers of the Flower Moon arrives in theatres on October 20, 2023, in the US, followed by an international rollout per IMDb.
The film will screen in select IMAX theaters to showcase Scorsese’s grand vision according to press announcements. Following its theatrical run, it will be available on Apple TV+ for streaming.
Moviegoers and cinephiles alike should add Killers of the Flower Moon to their must-see lists this fall. Scorsese’s latest sprawling epic promises to be one of the year’s most stirring cinematic events.