How Scorsese, DiCaprio, and De Niro Made ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

Film production can take years. At 80, director Martin Scorsese knows he has a finite amount of films and a finite number of years left.

“He has a lot of things he wants to do, but I don’t know if we’ll live long enough to do them,” his longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker, 83, said Sunday. Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival.

So whatever Scorsese tackles has to have double value, said the makers of classic films like “Taxi Driver,” “Goodfellas,” and “The Departed.”

“I’m at an age now where I value everything I try to do,” Scorsese said. “I want it to be important to me.” “I always do, but even more so now because I’m short on time.”

The latest work “Murderers of Flower MoonScorsese and his co-creators explained on a sunny Cannes terrace the day after the Apple-funded project premiered in Cannes to rave reviews. (It will be released in theaters in October this year, and will be distributed on a video distribution service at a later date.)

Still, the finished film is very different from what Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio originally intended to make. Without being willing to give up all notions of what Scorsese originally thought, he could not decipher this material. It should be “moon”.

The first version, like its non-fiction book by David Grann, was intended to be a gripping mystery, investigating a series of Native American murders in 1920s Oklahoma. It followed FBI agent Tom White of the straight arrow to do. There, the Osage Nation is the most prosperous tribe in the country. In fact, the discovery of oil on their land made them the richest people in all of America per capita. However, members of the Osage tribe regularly die in suspicious ways, even though the tribe has received promises of help from wealthy cattle lord William Hale (played by Robert De Niro in the film). Regardless, no one has been brought to justice yet.

White eventually uncovers a huge conspiracy involving not only the wealthy cowherd, but also his nephew Ernest, who is married to the Osage woman Molly. Because if other members of her family perish, they will eventually get their land title. his wife (and him). This twist of reality is the revelation this book seeks to build, but it never came to life when Scorsese and Eric Roth’s scripts were constructed in the same way.

DiCaprio said, “Marty and I just looked at each other and I think it felt like there was no soul in there. It was about the investigation, and I said to Marty, if you see De Niro as Hale, go away.” I said I would,” he said. “I feel like I know who did it.” What do you figure out? “

So instead of hiding these plot points, Scorsese and DiCaprio decided to work together. The three-and-a-half-hour film was to show the murders as soon as Hale and Ernest begin plotting them. And as the story gravitated towards malevolent men, DiCaprio decided to play Ernest instead of lawyer Tom White, with Jesse Plemons (“Power of the Dog”) filling in. .

“The hard part was countering this white savior cliché. After all, these crimes were also committed by white people. But his character’s subjects, like DiCaprio’s Ernest, , often with seemingly inexplicable motives, is affectionate and attentive to his wife.

DiCaprio said, “This was one of the most twisted love stories I’ve ever come across.” “I can’t believe that these two people loved each other and stayed together.”

De Niro was still at a loss for words when asked to explain how Hale went out of his way to make the Osage Nation love him while depopulating it. Were you able to reconcile the man’s tendencies by playing this role?

De Niro said, “In a way, no.” “He’s a sociopath. You don’t understand why he loves them and betrays them in such a way.” It wasn’t just about the money, De Niro said: Hale said. I already had a lot of money. “Greed is a real condition, but it seems like a simpler word than what happened,” he said. “Greed may make greedy people, but they don’t act like that. Or

So what were the additional motives that led Hale and Ernest down such a dark path?

“This is a story about someone who is not from European or white culture,” said the filmmaker. “It might be easier to kill them because they’re just ‘not up to par.’ I mean, oops! And I believe that’s the real idea.”

And there are plenty of modern parallels, Scorsese and De Niro said. At the film’s press conference yesterday, De Niro spoke about the film’s depiction of the “banality of evil,” saying, “You know who I’m talking about because you’re watching the film today, but he I won’t say the name of the man, he’s a fool.” “I mean, look at Trump!”

Scorsese and I said that Ernest’s willingness to carry out his uncle’s cruel orders reminded me of another film, Zone of Interest, which was screened at Cannes. The film is about a Nazi commander and his family who live next door to Auschwitz and relentlessly compartmentalize the atrocities committed. I’m on the other side of the garden wall.

“The thing that scares me is that everyone, not everyone, but most people, is vulnerable,” Scorsese said. “I’ve had a few people say, ‘No, I think anyone can do it.’

To expand the film’s horizons beyond the malevolent deeds of these white men, Scorsese consulted extensively with the Osage tribe, building the film on their traditions and lived experiences. Killers of the Flower Moon has already given an award-winning breakthrough to Native American actress Lily Gladstone, who plays Ernest’s wife Molly. With her cunning smile and formidable center of gravity, she’s as good as DiCaprio or De Niro, and after the movie premiered, theatrical cameras captured the tears in her eyes. spread over the internet.

Yesterday on the terrace in Cannes, I asked her about it. “It refers to those moments when you can visibly see me tearing up, breaking down, trying to shake it all off,” she said. “

Gladstone felt a lot in that moment, but most of all the applause was for Molly, a character who grew in importance as Scorsese continued to revise and shape the film. said.

“I was grateful that the audience saw Molly the way she was supposed to be and the way she was meant to be,” she said. “It was a confirmation that this is great storytelling. We were able to do what people thought was impossible.”

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