Scorsese scores with "Killers of the Flower Moon"

The Concordia Courier

Killers of the Flower Moon

By Chris Sexton | 10/27/2023

“You give me some moonshine or give me a gun!” 

In 1920, the Osage people of Fairfax, Oklahoma were the wealthiest people per capita on the planet. Why? Because the Osage reservation was situated on a massive oil reservoir, the discovery of which led to this native tribe becoming fantastically wealthy in a fantastically short amount of time. 

Yet as we all know, the joys of wealth and prosperity are soon followed by the inevitable onslaught of those wanting to claim those joys for themselves. When the Osage people begin to be murdered one-by-one, the weight of the situation falls on the shoulders of Mollie Burkhart, played by Lily Gladstone, who needs to figure out who is killing her people. 

Released to theaters on Oct. 20, writer and director Martin Scorsese tells an eloquent cinematic story of the Flower Moon killings through the viewpoint of an outsider, Ernest Burkhart, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. His performance exemplifies decades of acting experience come to fruition, as DiCaprio flawlessly plays a character that’s 20 years younger than himself. 

Robert De Niro stars as William Hale, a man of power and influence in Fairfax. His on-screen presence is intense, with a sly, comedic nature to it. Many of his quips resulted in outbursts of laughter from the audience, either from the humorous nature of a line or the absurdity of a social situation. 

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is a vast and multilayered story to tell. The film clocks in at 206 minutes, making it longer than both “Oppenheimer” and “Avatar: The Way of Water.” This dialogue-driven movie is highly engaging, if you have the attention span for it. The girl sitting in front of me in the theater scrolling through Instagram on her phone clearly did not.

Watching such a lengthy film all in one go was a very memorable experience. I never got up from my seat throughout the whole film, much to the chagrin of my bladder. But I am glad I didn’t. Scorsese’s masterful storytelling bridges the gap between past and present, giving audiences valuable time to spend with the nuanced and complicated people of the past. 

The script is clever and intelligent. The cinematography is as adequate as one would expect; the exterior shots of the Oklahoma landscape are often breathtaking on the big screen. 

Violence is a signature element present in all of Scorsese’s work. “Killers of the Flower Moon” takes the few-but-far-between approach. Don’t expect the all-out bloodbath approach as seen in his other films like “Taxi Driver” or “The Departed.” Rather, this movie contains more emotionally driven and scattered killing that works to drive story and character, while still retaining the shock value found in some of Scorsese’s other films. 

“Killers of the Flower Moon” works as a film because it transports audiences to a different time in America’s history. If the story of the Flower Moon killings is not compelling enough, merely viewing this film as a snapshot of life a century ago will make it worthwhile. Times, troubles and technologies may change, but as movies like this one show us that people remain the same. 




About Chris Sexton

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