It should be a happy scene — a man courting a woman. But the reality is much darker. The man and woman will marry, then he’ll kill many of her relatives to get control of the oil riches they inherited. All of this will play out in Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Killers of the Flower Moon.
The film will star Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro — and will appear on Apple TV+. An image of DiCaprio and Gladstone in character, released Monday, offers our first glimpse of the upcoming movie.
Killers of the Flower Moon is a true story
Killers of the Flower Moon is based on New Yorker journalist David Grann’s 2017 nonfiction book of the same name. It recounts multiple murders of Osage Native Americans in the 1920s. The investigation into the crime helped establish the FBI.
The Osage settled on land in Oklahoma that was nearly worthless until oil was discovered under it. A rich cattle rancher hatched a plot to marry his nephew into the tribe — and then eliminate her relatives.
DiCaprio is taking on the role of Ernest Burkhart. Gladstone will play Mollie Kyle, the Osage woman he marries. De Niro will play William Hale, Burkhart’s uncle and the man who masterminded the plot.
Osage News provided some context for the first-look image:
Gladstone is dressed in traditional Osage clothing. She is wrapped in a Pendleton blanket, she is wearing a black choker, two silver brooches, and her long black hair is loosely tied back. This is how she appears in the photos of her youth.
In the scene, she is looking adoringly at DiCaprio while he is looking off, perhaps a telling photo of their doomed relationship.
A bowl of grape dumplings sits on the table in red Spode China. Grape dumplings are still made to this day and Osages still use red and blue Spode dishes for their ceremonial dinners and special occasions. It’s considered the finest dishes to use by many Osage women, young and old. Judging from the meal, the dishes and the blanket Gladstone is wearing, this was most likely an important dinner.
In 1919, the Osages were still unaccustomed to the great wealth they were receiving from oil royalties and the oil boom that was happening around them. According to Grann’s book, Mollie was just 10 years old when oil was first discovered on the Osage reservation. The Spode dishes in the scene, the ornate wood furniture, the silver utensils and their nice home show that her family was receiving these oil royalties. This type of wealth would be coveted by Burkhart who moved to Oklahoma from Texas to work in the oil fields and was virtually penniless.
Scorsese film coming to Apple TV+
Scorsese is directing Killers of the Flower Moon, and reportedly has a budget of more than $200 million to work with. He’s collaborated with De Niro and DiCaprio many times before.
The film will be released in theaters before appearing on the Apple TV+ streaming service ($4.99 a month). There’s no definite premiere date yet. (Apple grabbed the rights to Killers of the Flower Moon in 2020.)
It will join other films already available, like Justin Timberlake’s drama Palmer, Tom Hanks’ World War II naval epic Greyhound, and Bill Murray and Rashida Jones’ comedy On the Rocks. Before that came Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson in The Banker.