Martin Scorsese's highly anticipated upcoming film, Killers of the Flower Moon, is an adaptation of journalist David Grann's acclaimed 2017 book of the same name — but the director says his version takes a very different approach to the true story of the Osage murders, when shadowy killers targeted oil-rich Native Americans in Oklahoma because they envied their wealth.
"After a certain point, I realized I was making a movie about all the white guys," Scorsese said in a new Time cover story. "Meaning I was taking the approach from the outside in, which concerned me."
The subtitle of Grann's book is The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, and much of it focuses on proto-FBI agent Tom White's investigation into the crimes. Leonardo DiCaprio was originally cast as White, but he and Scorsese decided that it wasn't working and that their movie needed to focus more on the Osage characters like Mollie Burkhart, played by Lily Gladstone.
Paramount Pictures Lily Gladstone and Martin Scorsese on the set of 'Killers of the Flower Moon.'
DiCaprio switched roles to play Mollie's husband, Ernest Burkhart, while Jesse Plemons stepped into the role of White. Ernest and Mollie's marriage became the core of the film, which has led to Gladstone receiving wide acclaim for her performance since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.
"It's not a white-savior story," Gladstone said of the rewritten Killers of the Flower Moon in a recent interview with New York magazine. "It's the Osage saying, 'Do something. Here's money. Come help us.'"
In the same interview, Gladstone slammed Yellowstone, the popular Paramount Western series that does focus mostly on white characters, calling it "delusional" and "deplorable."
Much of Killers of the Flower Moon was shot in Pawhuska, Okla., not far from where the real events on which it is based took place, and where descendants of the Osage people depicted still live.
"Marty made a story of trust and betrayal... over hundreds of years of dealing with governmental agencies, and people who came in and took advantage of us," consulting producer Chad Renfro, who grew up in the area with Osage grandparents, told Time.
Renfron added that on "the first day of filming, we had an elder, Archie Mason, come and say a prayer," and Scorsese's team worked closely with local Osage leaders like Osage Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear throughout the production.
Killers of the Flower Moon is set for a wide release on Oct. 20 and will eventually stream on Apple TV+. Watch the new trailer for it above.
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