‘Beyond Abuse’: Killers of the Flower Moon's Osage Consultant Has a Lot To Say About Scorsese's Movie
Osage's impressions turned out to be mixed.
One of the few living greats, Martin Scorsese is 80 years old and yet produces a film every few years. His latest flick, Killers of the Flower Moon, is already receiving critical acclaim and is poised to take its place among the cult director's other true gems.
What is Killers of the Flower Moon about?
The original source, book by David Grann, chronicles the mysterious killings of rich Osage Native Americans that took place following the discovery of oil on their territory. The Osage massacres get the attention of the FBI, and investigator Tom White.
The massacres of the Osage tribe in the 1920s are one of the darkest pages in US history. Ironically, significant oil resources were discovered on the desolate reservation in Oklahoma where the Indians were relocated after being forced from their ancestral lands. Consequently, the Osage tribe – about whom nobody seemed to care – became the wealthiest in the country.
Shortly after World War I, young Ernest comes to Oklahoma to visit his uncle, a wealthy landowner and friend of the Indians. The uncle quickly finds a job for him as a driver and advises him to take a closer look at the quiet Mollie, the daughter of a rich Indian family.
Ernest is not averse to settling down and becoming the owner of Mollie's large fortune. After a series of awkward courtships, she agrees to become his wife.
What did Native Americans think of the movie?
Scorsese hired advisers, to help him portray the Osage as accurately as possible. Christopher Cote gave the director and performers advice on Osage language. During the film's Los Angeles premiere, Cote, an Osage himself, offered his opinions on the picture:
“As an Osage, I really wanted this to be from the perspective of Mollie and what her family experienced. […] This history is being told almost from the perspective of Ernest Burkhart and they […] kind of depict that there's love. But when somebody conspires to murder your entire family, that's not love. That's not love, that's just beyond abuse.”
Christopher also added that perhaps the movie should be directed by an Osage to fully capture the experiences of Mollie (played by Lily Gladstone) and her family, and to do it from their standpoint.
Cote's observation is further supported by the fact that Martin Scorsese reportedly rewrote the script because he believed the original idea focused too much on white people.
As per the feedback from viewers, the filmmaker gives careful consideration to the Osage people, their traditions, and their responses to the events on screen. However, the two main characters remain to be white men who end up being very unpleasant: one is naive and driven, while the other is cunning and cruel.
The only ray of light in this kingdom of human vices is the character of Lily Gladstone, who manages to carry off the role with only one wise look.
Scorsese’s new project is a step forward
Perhaps no other mainstream movie about the genocide of indigenous people has ever been as uncompromising.
In Cote's view, the question you should ask yourself after this film is: How long will you be complacent about racism? With his new flick, Scorsese asks that question not only about the Osage tribe, but about anyone who remains oppressed.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter