Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ details forgotten American history

“Killers of the Flower Moon” depicts the grim events surrounding the Native American Osage community in the early 20th century after large oil deposits were discovered on their land. The newfound riches brought greedy White Americans to Osage County, hoping to cash in on the Osage people as they continued to sell the oil for millions of dollars.

The cast of “Killers of the Flower Moon” is stacked with instantly recognizable names, such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, who portray Ernest Burkhart and his uncle, William King Hale, respectively. Lily Gladstone brings to life Ernest’s wife and member of the Osage community, Mollie Burkhart. Fans of Max’s “The Last of Us” may also recognize Scott Shepherd among the central cast as he depicts Ernest Burkhart’s brother, Byron.

As Osage County fills up with White Americans hoping to get a taste of the oil money, a sinister plot begins to reveal itself. Members of the Osage community, and many direct relatives of Mollie Burkhart, begin to go missing or turn up dead. The local law enforcement, made up of mostly White Americans, gives no attention to the conspiracy haunting the Osage community.

During this uncertain time, William Hale presents himself as a friend to the Osage people. He is a White, well-off rancher who resides in Osage County. He attends important community meetings with the tribe leaders and demonstrates great acts of philanthropy within the Osage community. However, he is soon revealed to not be as innocent and companionable as he first appears.

The relationship shared between Mollie and Ernest is provided plenty of screen time to develop and serves as a central plot line to the movie, as it is Mollie’s family who is being murdered and Ernest’s ethnic group which is most clearly perpetrating the violent acts. Ernest and Mollie fight to love one another and remain strong through a frightening time for their local community, even as Mollie begins to lose some trust in her husband.

Another major relationship that is focused on through the movie is the relationship Ernest has with his uncle, William Hale.
Ernest very clearly trusts his uncle and believes he knows what is best. They share some questionable motives for their actions,
though it is Hale’s influence that brings out the worst in his nephew.

The movie keeps up the anticipation through its 3 hour and 26 minute runtime, unraveling more and more of the atrocities committed within the community and bringing in the FBI to conduct the detective work that the local law enforcement had refused to do. Tensions rise as more Osage continue to go missing and their bodies are discovered.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” feels like so much more than a blockbuster film set in the early 20th century. The movie was inspired by the non-fiction book “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.” The research put into creating an authentic recreation of the true crime story and the time period is apparent throughout the entire film. The director, Martin Scorsese, perfectly captured the essence of 1920s Oklahoma and let it run wild on the silver screen.

The opening of the movie is solely dedicated to developing the time period, as well as the cultural and political environment the events of the movie are based in. The first ten minutes is almost documentary-like, and immediately demonstrates the movie crew’s dedication to bringing to life the actual history of the story.

The Osage wear extravagant, culturally based clothing and live lavishly. White vendors run every kind of shop, hoping to convince
the Osage to purchase their wares or pay to have their photographs taken. Some Osage have White hired hands as servants. The
roads through the local town are noticeably all dirt and vehicles still resemble the stage coaches they evolved from.

This time spent creating the historical setting for the rest of the film grounds the audience in the time period. While “Killers of the Flower Moon” is not a documentary and the information portrayed in the film is not absolutely accurate, the attention to detail
Scorsese demonstrates in his creation lends credibility to the whole film as a historical work.

In addition to the notable historical significance, the actors’ portrayals of each character is nothing short of astonishing. DiCaprio is almost unrecognizable as Burkhart, having altered his voice completely and perfectly encapsulates Burkhart through his facial expressions. De Niro’s William Hale is effortlessly able to manipulate the audience into viewing him in much the same way his nephew does. Gladstone’s Mollie Burkhart remains true to the Osage people of the time and remains a compelling protagonist continuously through the film.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” released in theaters on October 20, 2023, and will be made available for streaming on Apple TV+ at a later date.