“History is a merciless judge. It lays bare our tragic blunders and foolish missteps and exposes our most intimate secrets, wielding the power of hindsight like an arrogant detective who seems to know the end of the mystery from the outset.”

The book is on my TBR list. I had added it as I planned to read about Native Americans and their history. However, my priorities were different, and my keenness to read other books and series had pushed this book to the far end of my TBR list. There was no hope for that book to be read, at least in a couple of years. 

Checking Out Martin Scorsese

Killers of the Flower is a movie that unapologetically calls out all the oppressive powers that have been toxic to the modern world.

By the middle of this year, I tried to study movies briefly. I wanted to know how movies are made, how studios work, how directors and filmmakers excel, and everything else. One director who grabbed my attention was Martin Scorsese. I had watched his movies in the past but never noticed the director to be him.

I rewatched Shutter Island this year and was blown away by the movie. I have yet to write a review on that movie, for it’s so difficult to decide a starting point to write. 

Later, I rewatched Wolf of Wall Street – the chaotic cinema starring the Legend Decaprio with exuberant lights and colors. I watched Taxi Driver, a melancholic exploration into the core of America and its values. This movie turned something upside down inside my heart.

That is when I heard the news of a new Martin Scorsese movie coming in October. The name Killers of the Flower Moon strikes strings inside hearts (thanks to Martin for preserving the same name while adapting). I couldn’t remember having the book with the same name on my TBR list as I was busy reading other books. So, I waited for the movie to be released on the OTT platform.

That was the biggest mistake I made.

I will forever miss watching Killers of The Flower on a big screen. This piece of art is pure cinema from beginning to end. 

Premise

The movie speaks about a sect of Native Americans, a small part of a genocidal disaster. It makes a cathartic study about a group of Natives called the Osage who have settled in Oklahoma for hundreds of years, long before the Europeans came there.

After decades of crusades and merciless killing of natives, the white Americans decide to preserve the Native history of the nation and live alongside these ancient communities in harmony.

But is harmony possible between ice and fire? Can snakes coexist with mongooses? Is the hope of sheep to share bread with wolves viable?

This is a long ass essay, but stay with me. It’s essential for you to stay with me. Firstly, because I feel your company, and secondly, because it’s essential not to ignore history’s lessons.

Let’s dig deep into this saga of the conflict between Whites and natives that has led to this masterpiece of a movie. 

Plot

Let me tell you the gist of the plot.

Osage is one of the major communities of Natives. Oppressed for many years by the Europeans, they were driven across the nation and kept fleeing, escaping the crusading wrath of the whites until the US government passed few resolutions in the late 19th century.

The US government wanted to preserve these communities for the future. To protect them (really, bruh?), they allotted several acres of land exclusively for Natives. Oklahoma is one such state where a significant part is reserved for Native settlement. So, Osages settled on this land. The land was written off to the community, and the Osages became official owners.

This is where the story begins.

The Natives were uneducated and were not much accustomed to the Whites’s way of living. They lived with their traditions and principles. Capitalism was an unheard concept. They didn’t even imagine industries. But their fate stumbled upon the rock when they discovered substantial oil reserves in their lands. That was it.

Wherever there is oil, the US comes to capture.

But, the constitutional hurdles did not allow them to capture the lands easily. They agreed with the Natives that the natives would hold the ownership of those lands, but they would have to lease it to whites for oil drilling and extraction (of course, for a considerable sum of money).

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The whites also played their trick of luring the Natives into the greed of the concept of money, something that they never knew, gaslighting.

“As you don’t know the concept of money and have never handled wealth, you might lose all the money that you made in gambling and other futile businesses. So, you need to have a legal White American Guardian to manage your wealth”.

Without realizing the cunningness of the whites, the Natives took the bait and agreed to the terms. 

The Natives then leased many acres of land to the whites, where the Whites started working in huge numbers, literally forming a community inside a community. They became friendly with the Natives, who began to look at them more favorably.

Everything would have gone smoothly if this order had been maintained.

But is human nature so simple? Is the desire to gain something even at the cost of entire humanity so weak?

Soon, the natives started getting married to the whites. That was less of intercommunal love and prosperity but the shortcoming intellectual decisions of the natives who thought that a guardian of wealth would be honest and closer if he were a husband.

Well, this innocence of the Natives was thoroughly exploited by the Whites, and every random Native girl had a bunch of white young boys tormenting and wooing her for her hand in marriage. 

Things could still be more accessible, but could the slyness stop here? 

There started some deaths within the Native community. What started as one or the other random death became a series of multiple deaths in just over a few months. Most of the deaths were murders.

Natives thought it to be the wrath of their gods for allowing the whites to make business of their land. The deaths soon demoralized the entire community, and they started losing the ability to think rationally about the source of the murders. 

Do you find a wolf in that picture?

It was after many years that the actual cause of these deaths was found out through a deeper investigation by the FBI, where Edgar Hoover, the founder of the Bureau, took a personal interest in the case. Investigations revealed horrific atrocities committed by the men who called themselves ‘most civilized.’

Killers of The Flower opens up a vast platform for a deeper study into the human mind and thoughts.

Let me not spoil the entire plot with its ending. You need to watch the movie to really immerse yourself in the experience. But this movie opened up several doors that were ajar inside my mind. This movie is a mind-tickling experience for analysts and thinkers who want to pursue and study the human mind and behavior. 

Let’s walk through such aspects insightfully portrayed in the movie. 

The Drawbacks of Innocence

The Osages were innocent tribal people. They lived peacefully with their indigenous traditions. At first, they were brutally driven by the Whites all over the country. Hundreds of people lost their lives in this conflict. But, the Osages still believed that something good would come out of whites. That was the reason they decided to form a pact with each other.

While the Whites considered this pack a generous act of mercy, the Osages failed to recognize the hidden slyness behind the facade of generosity. 

Their innocence didn’t allow them to learn the complicated entanglements of policies and diplomacy. With the surprise of finding oil wells and the anticipation of wealth, they looked over the hidden details that made them slaves without actually having to wear any shackles. 

Lost in the luxury of wealth and richness, they forgot that the ones who drove them and killed them in numbers wouldn’t step back to repeat the same treachery. It was just a matter of time before the whites showed them the real darkness of their hearts. 

The Never-Fading Cruelty of Wolves

The history of colonialism has taught the world several lessons about human nature. One of them that stands with a bright hue is the bloodlust of the bad ones. As we study modern history and colonialism, we find out that the natives always trusted the colonizers. The natives never learned the lesson or never understood the human nature of cunning.

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With just a few generous acts and smiles of courtesy, the whites captured the hearts of the Natives before binding them with heavy shackles and squeezing the blood out of them.

Killers of The Flower stands as a referential standpoint for many geopolitical events happening around the world right now.

The Atrocities of the Cunning

The Atrocities of the Cunning is a crystal clear mirror of the crime that the colonizers committed all over the world as they brought destruction and rewrote a terrible false history that we read in schools today. 

With the false ideas of ill-interpreted democracy and industrialization, they brought a miserable end to the most beautiful of cultures. They destroyed the most intellectual of the minds and killed thousands of cultures and traditions without mercy. 

I highly appreciate Mr. Scorsese making a great move on such a topic at a significant moment of transition in the world. 

This movie must constantly remind the folks out there to study and recognize the crimes their forefathers did or had to endure. It must remain a perpetual motivation for people to understand the not-so-transparent nature of humans. 

The Trickery of Machiavellian Historians

It’s always the winners that write the history. I agree with this idea. But my basic issue lies with the importance that is given to the quantity over the quality.

We have detailed descriptions of the voyages sailed, the lands captured, the wars and battles won, and the lives lost.

But when has any historian really tried to get into the people’s minds?

They vividly described the clothes they wore and the food they ate, but not many were concerned about how the people felt. Nobody tried to understand people’s hearts during each leap of time and history. Historians provide bland and merely descriptive details of the lands and their cultures, but we as readers fail to understand the core of our past emotions. 

When historians commit this historical blunder (although it might seem trivial), the entire concept of history will be wrongly taught to the next generations. The triumphant always remain the glorious, and the losers are always portrayed as vanquished laggards. 

Mr. Scorsese has taken delicate care to dig deep into the emotions of each character he creates and fill them with the feelings that the real people of that time felt. Every character plays a distinct role in depicting subtle and detailed emotions of greed, anger, cunning, helplessness, and treacherous folks. 

Killers of The Flower wouldn’t have made an impression if it had just been a history reel. The lives that the natives and the oppressors lived at that moment have a depth to them. Each person has a story to tell. The director has successfully extracted each story on big screens for our interpretation. 

The experience of this movie takes you into a rabbit hole of the never-before-explored stories of the Natives and their miserable fate.

This story had to be told someday, and Martin Scorsese choosing to tell this story of brutality and tragedy on the big screen is one of the best things that happened in 2023.

Here are my arguments for why this movie could be the strongest contender for the Academy Awards.

Seamless Cinematography 

I don’t have the technical knowledge to go into any detailed study of angles and proportions. But the cinematic experience is top-notch. The camera never misses an expression, extracting the emotions and preserving their rawness. A single tear drop coming out of the eyes brings out the agony of a native, and the camera captures every anger and spite-fuelled spittle.

The brutal images of robbery and killing and the gory shots of blood and postmortem are perfect enough to make you feel nauseous but not make you puke out. 

The Angles seem perfect. There has been a perfect combination of close-up shots and drone cinematography. Rodrigo Prieto, the Mexican cinematographer who worked previously on The Wolf of The Wall Street, has deliberately tweaked some angles and aspects to deliver us a unique experience on screen.

You really had to watch it on a big screen. 

Flawless Storytelling

I really need to dig into the story of Martin Scorsese deciding to write this story. We need to understand the thought process that runs behind the scenes.

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The minute nuances in writing and the simple but profound mindscapes of the scriptwriter make a simple story tell tremendously. Here, the story is tremendous, and a sharp knife of risk is hanging above the head of screenwriters to deliver the content crisply. However, the crispness seems hidden in some parts of the movie.

The runtime of three and a half hours doesn’t feel like a burden. Martin Scorsese has partnered up with Eric Roth, who has written screenplays for the movies Dune and Forrest Gump. Both have delivered a masterpiece. 

An Exemplary Cast and a Stellar Performance

They are here. All of them.

This is one of the most successful ensembles, one that hasn’t happened in a while. It’s a credit to the off-screen genius of Scorsese that he has had such excellent relations with these actors for decades.

Each character is filled to the brim, I’d say. The cast is just so perfect. You wouldn’t feel even a tiny speck of void lingering back while the characters are etched out on screen.

Robert De Niro and Leonardo de Caprio, being the legends they are, play two perfect white men who make you feel you’re living in the crooked 20th-century phase of colonialism. Leo’s strong accent doesn’t feel forced at all. 

Lily Gladstone plays the beautiful Native American wife who had soaked herself into the viscous bounds of melancholy. The expressions of grief, shock, anger, and resignation make you feel the real emotions of the Natives. 

Jesse Palmons was a jumpscare for me as I couldn’t believe what this Breaking Bad bad guy was doing here. 

The casting directors, Ellen Lewis and Rene Haynes, have made an intricate study of natives and their culture before selecting the actors who perfectly suit the characters they are given. Nothing feels like acting in this movie.

An Astounding Conclusion That Leaves a Void Inside Your Heart

More important than the story, script, and actors is the intent of the filmmaker to tell a story. Who better could you think of to tell a story better than the man himself?

Martin Scorsese has poured his talent and dedication in equal proportions to speak out a story without a need to make himself politically correct. He shows us the story, not whitewashing any incident to anybody’s biases. 

There is a great need for the renovation of the American Spirit on deeper levels, and Mr.Scorsese seems to have made his message clear and profound. 

You will walk out of the movie halls or shut down your laptops, feeling a big void inside your heart where there are tears to cry away but emotions and thoughts to ponder upon for months and years to come. 

Is Killers of the Flower a Flawless Movie?

Come on, the world is not flawless. Even though you feel that each part in the movie is without a single flaw, all the components put together would bless you with an itch while watching the movie.

The screen time could be cut by twenty minutes easily. Mr Scorsese has justified the movie’s screen time in all his interviews. But the need to justify would never arise if the movie was limited to 3 hours in the first place. 

Although the movie offers a bird’s eye view of the brutal story, providing equal weightage for each character, I feel the POVs could be more strongly written. But that would increase the runtime even further. 

Final Thoughts

Well, you could keep finding flaws that the makers wouldn’t even bat an eye upon; ultimately, it’s all about individual opinions. You could have a completely different review from mine. 

However, this is the age of Movie Quality Recession. The movies have been falling short of telling profound stories with their originality preserved.

Killers of the Flower is a movie that unapologetically calls out all the oppressive powers that have been toxic to the modern world. Preserving its roots, the movie reaches out to every citizen of the world to bring out their own voices and motivate them to tell their own story. 

It’s streaming on Apple TV. Watch Killers of the Flower today!

Dr. Nandeesh

An intellectual explorer| Reviews everything under earth| Let my honesty prevail

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