Killers of the Flower Moon
Martin Scorsese, USA, 2023o
When oil is discovered on the land of the Osage natives in 1920s Oklahoma, they become multimillionaires. But the wealth also attracts white settlers who try to get their share through marriage politics or brute force. Among the former is Ernest, a war returnee, who marries an Osage woman; among the latter is Ernest's uncle, the local cattle baron, who poses as an Indian friend and harnesses his grandson de facto to decimate potential heirs in his family. Ernest can't get out of his fatal dilemma until the newly formed FBI gets behind the strange deaths.
Killers of the Flower Moon is the film adaptation of the 2017 nonfiction bestseller of the same name, in which New Yorker staff writer David Grann chronicles the dozens of murders of Osage Indians in 1920s Oklahoma. Oil discoveries had brought fabulous wealth to the reservation inhabitants at the time; white settlers tried to take their share through marriage politics and brute force. Martin Scorsese and his co-writer Eric Roth weave a thriller thread into this rich material about the bloody appropriation of the American West from the East. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the nephew of the local cattle baron (Robert De Niro) who marries an Osage woman and gets roped into the decimation of her family by his supposedly well-meaning uncle. The hero's obtuseness and Scorsese's narrative stubbornness are the film's dramaturgical problem: With enervating tumbliness, the nephew blocks any insight into his contradictory behavior as a loving husband and henchman of evil, and the director sprawls out the downfall of the fatal pair when the audience has long since known what the score is. Moreover, the politically correct drawing of the Osage seems more coy than lifelike, and in places the sketching of the Wild West setting is picture-perfect. Nevertheless, Killers of the Flower Moon is a worthwhile late work by the New Hollywood over-father: the depiction of the laborious enforcement of law and order by the just-established FBI and the judiciary against the mafia-like structure of the pioneer society is grandiose; the tragic gate at the center of the film, which once again varies Scorsese's life theme, is consistently conceived: Almost all of Scorsese's antiheroes blindly pursue their American dreams and fail to achieve them for that very reason.Andreas Furler