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What Is The ‘Killers Of The Flower Moon’ Movie About?

A gritty, blood-pumping trailer set to the tunes of Halluci Nation’s “Stadium Pow Wow,” and a critically-raved about debut at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival have made Martin Scorsese’s latest crime epic the most-buzzed-about movie this fall.

Killers of the Flower Moon sees the Oscar-winning director partnering with his longtime muse, Leonardo DiCaprio, to tell a captivating story that has roots in a real-life blood feud that devastated the Osage Nation in the 1920s. Scorsese’s brought history to the big screen before, most recently with The Irishman and The Wolf of Wall Street, but this adaptation of journalist David Grann’s nonfiction work, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, is some of the heaviest, most complicated material he’s faced yet.

Here’s what we know about the story.

The Osage Murders

Displaced by the US Government at the beginning of the 19th century, the Osage Nation settled in Oklahoma in what was known as “Indian territory.” They legally purchased land for their reservation from the US Government and negotiated a deal giving each tribe member a share in the land’s mineral trust. When rich oil fields were discovered under the land a few years later, Osage Nation members became the richest people in the country — something that attracted criminals and conmen to the territory, all hoping to take advantage of the country’s “guardianship” system which allowed white men to exercise control over the wealth of Indigenous people through marriage, murder, or theft.

The murders of Osage members Anna Brown and Charles Whitehorn in 1921 marked the beginning of an attack against their people that would claim the lives of 22 more. As Osage Nation members began dying of mysterious illnesses and being murdered in drive-by shootings and home explosions, one tribe member, Mollie Burkhart, appealed to the Department of Justice to investigate the killings. Her story — and how her husband, his brother, and their wealthy uncle played a role in the murders — is what Scorsese seems to be focusing on with his film.

The FBI Investigation and Trial

While Lily Gladstone is set to play Mollie, DiCaprio will be portraying her husband Ernest, who was somehow roped into his uncle’s scheme to steal land (and wealth) from the Osage Nation through violent means. Ernest’s contentious relationship with the elder William Hale (played in the film by Robert De Niro), and the assassination attempts he carried out in his name, will likely be the crux of the film — as will the investigation into the murders led by FBI agent Tom White (Jesse Plemmons). Ernest not only conspired to kill his wife’s family, but he also planned her death — though she escaped that fate through sheer coincidence. He would later be arrested for the murders along with his uncle and the two would stand trial.

Scorsese worked with Osage Nation historians to develop the film, eventually changing the story from focusing solely on the creation of the FBI — which the murders helped spark — to spotlighting the terrible injustice and generational trauma these killings caused.

(Via EW)