Killers of the Flower Moon: Scorsese and De Niro reunite at Cannes ahead of film’s release
Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro on Sunday appeared together at the Cannes Film Festival for the first time in nearly 50 years for the premiere of their film Killers of the Flower Moon.
The Western epic — which also stars Leonardo DiCaprio — has won rave reviews from the critics lucky enough to have seen it, while the rest of us have recently been treated to a trailer.
The last time the legendary actor De Niro and director Scorsese had appeared together at the iconic French festival was in 1976 for Taxi Driver, another of their many collaborations.
The new film is based on the 2017 best-selling non-fiction book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by the New Yorker staff writer David Grann. The book details a series of murders of a Midwestern Native American tribe known as the Osage Nation in the 1920s in Oklahoma. The killings coincided with large oil deposits being discovered on their land.
Scorsese said of the film at Sunday’s press conference: “I was so affected and so moved. I know what their values are and [that they are] really understanding how to live on this planet. It reoriented me every time they spoke.”
The crime drama has been written by Scorsese and Eric Roth, who also wrote Forrest Gump (1994), The Insider (1999), Munich (2005) and Dune (2021).
De Niro, who has recently become a father for the seventh time at 79, said systematic racism was a theme in the film. “It is the banality of evil, the thing we have to watch out for,” he said. “We see it today.”
Brendan Fraser, hot off his Oscar win for The Whale, will star in the film, as will Jesse Plemons, John Lithgow, singer Jack White, Louis Cancelmi, Lily Gladstone and Tantoo Cardinal.
Killers of the Flower Moon also has a lengthy run time at three hours and 26 minutes.
Film fans had a mixed response when they learned that essentially a whole afternoon needs to be put aside to watch the film. “Man, Marty needs an editor,” tweeted one, while another joked, “Marty, we got places to be.”
Others disagreed: “If you love cinema, why would you be upset at four hours of cinema from MARTIN SCORSESE?” said one, while a fourth tweeted: “I literally cannot imagine complaining that I get to watch 4 hours of a new Martin Scorsese film.”
This is the first time in 37 years that Scorsese has brought one of his films to the festival. His last film to appear at the event was the 1985 black comedy thriller After Hours, which won the American filmmaker a Best Director Award.
Fans have already expressed their opinions about the trailer on social media.
“Oh wow, the Killers of the Flower Moon trailer is INCREDIBLE,” said one person on Twitter.
“So we’re just supposed to go on with our day after the KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON trailer ?” said a second. A third said: “Killers of the Flower Moon trailer is one of the best in recent years.”
Me after watching the Killers of the Flower Moon trailer 5 times pic.twitter.com/LgrXiq2840
— Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) May 18, 2023
The nearly two-minute trailer does indeed pack a major punch. It features cattle rancher William Hale (De Niro), his nephew, Ernest (DiCaprio), and Native American Mollie (Lily Gladstone), who becomes romantically linked to Ernest.
Sequences move between colonisers arriving in the Midwest; their devastation of the exquisite scenery as they build factories and establish new industries; the practices of the local Native American Osage Nation; and scenes where members of the Osage Nation meet the colonisers.
Then the pace of the trailer quickens as the music changes into a higher, more minor, key: violence is in the air. Someone is being stabbed in the street. Someone else shoots a gun in the sky. There’s an explosion at a bank and someone collects up notes flying through the air and bundles handfuls into his hat. Fire ravages a landscape. There is a gun standoff, and a mysterious drug concoction swirls in a glass. Mollie looks ill, and all the while someone seems to be screaming ominously in the background.
“Greed is an animal,” reads writing across the trailer.
Killers of the Flower Moon is Scorsese’s first feature film in four years. His last major project was the 2019 Netflix gangster film The Irishman, although he directed and produced Pretend It’s a City, an extended interview with Fran Lebowitz, in 2021.
“I want to explore something else, and that is the nature of a whole way of thinking as being complicit in genocide. It’s dehumanising people,” said Scorsese, speaking to BFI’s Sight & Sound magazine about Killers of the Flower Moon in 2019. “I was out in Oklahoma about six weeks ago, and ultimately, as the Osage told me, it’s about greed.”
Killers of the Flower Moon is set to be released on October 20