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Killers of the Flower Moon: A Quiet Classic?

Photo by Diliara Garifullina on Unsplash

Killers of the Flower Moon is a visually dull, emotionally depressing, and prolonged film… and I loved it. However, I don’t know how I can summarize the 3 hour and 26 minute long movie in order to do it justice. The fact that director Martin Scorsese was able to create a movie so disheartening yet so good is fascinating, especially considering its run time, and I do not find this close to surprising as he has had much experience in the film industry. 

Killers of the Flower Moon is a complex story as it broadly navigates a dark time in American history but more specifically delves into the sinister conspiracy during the 1920s surrounding the Osage Indian murders. The Osage Nation had become wealthy during its time due to owning the oil rights on their land, land that The U.S. Government had forcibly moved them to. This caused them to be the wealthiest groups of people in the world for the time, but it attracted greed, corruption, and racial tension when white supremacists entered the picture.

The film holds a phenomenal cast with Leonardo DiCaprio taking on a different type of character than he usually does as Ernest Burkhart. DiCaprio tends to play more smart and clever men, whereas Burkhart is a simple minded, weak and emotionally confused man. However, Robert De Niro stuck to his typical power-driven role as William Hale. Despite these great actors, I believe that Lily Gladstone, who played Mollie Burkhart, completely stole the show. Though her performance may have been subtle, she definitely brought depth and an emotional impact to all of the horror surrounding her and eventually almost taking her. 

The film had many strengths including its ability to convey and cover the magnitude of the historical infringements inflicted against the Osage Nation. The script is based on David Grann’s historically accurate book, making the film both intriguing and informative while bringing a dark chapter in American history to light. Another one of the film’s strengths was its color scheme that managed throughout the entire film. By using very earthy tones such as beiges and dark greens, the 1920s western vibe was brought to life. Many of the white men during the film were specifically wearing beige and the Osage people were wearing more saturated colors. Not only would this have been realistic for the time, but it could also be a reflection on the characters emotions. Even throughout the movie as Mollie is dying, we see her clothes start to become less colorful compared to how they were in the beginning of the film. 

Though Killers of the Flower Moon is considerably an excellent movie, there were definitely some flaws. The film being stretched over 3 hours felt a little much at times, and though some scenes could have been cut down, I did feel most, if not all of the scenes were valuable to the story, giving the story the justice it deserved. Nevertheless, some of the scenes tended to linger a bit longer than needed, most likely testing the audience’s patience, which could have overshadowed the overall point of the film. A more concise editing approach would have put a better focus on the film without taking away from its historical significance. Not only this, but the film was clearly not filmed in a linear time sense, making some transitions very confusing as I did not fully understand the passage of time, especially in the beginning.

To make this long story short, Killers of the Flower Moon was an excellent film with skilled actors, editing, and more. The rich story line matched outstandingly with the superb performances of the actors and attention to even the smallest of details making this a must-watch film. Though 3 hours and 26 minutes is a long time to be staring at a screen, I felt as though I was watching a valuable story that everyone should see. Even if edited down, I do not know if it would have been as exceptional as it was.

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