Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, who are likely appearing in film version of Killers of the Flower Moon

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Is the Next True Crime Book To Inspire Scorsese

Just like 'Goodfellas' and 'The Irishman,' a real-life tale is serving as source material for the famed director.

Well-known director Martin Scorsese has been a household name since the ‘70s, with some of his best films being based on real-life crimes and somehow likable criminals (“Goodfellas” and “The Irishman” as the prime examples). His next project will be based on journalist David Grann’s book “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which shares the true story of the mysterious murders of the Osage people in Osage County, Oklahoma during the 1910s to 1930s, resulting in what can be considered as the start of the Federal Bureau Investigation (F.B.I.).

Up to the 1920s, the United States was, in a sense, almost a lawless country. This was especially true during the final parts of the American Frontier (1830-1920). The time period was filled with gun-wielding outlaws that were ready to stuff their pockets with all the wealth they could carry. One of the richest people of the time were members of the Osage Indian nation of Oklahoma after oil had been discovered beneath their land. Not long after, however, the members of the family were killed one by one with relatives shot or poisoned.

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“Killers of the Flower Moon” details one of the Osage members Mollie Burkhart’s experience as a prime target for these suspicious deaths, seeing as she had head rights to the family’s fortune. But it does not stop there as author Grann goes on with theories that lean toward over hundreds of family members being murdered due to their ties to oil despite the fact only about 20 deaths were made official.

He shares his views on the possibilities of cattleman William “Bill” Hale masterminding the whole affair due to his self-proclaimed status of “King of the Osage Hills” being threatened by the predominantly Native American competitors making a name for themselves. Suspicion for his role in this case could be easily supported with the years he spent extorting and intimidating, which just as easily could have led to the murders of people from his own family. 

Now since Scorsese isn’t really known for Western pieces, this would appear to be a tad different from his past work, but the film adaptation for “Killers of the Flower Moon” can still possess elements one can see in at least one of his movies. To start with, it would be based on a true crime book the same way 1990s “Goodfellas” was based on crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi’s book “Wiseguy,” which told the nonfiction story of mafia mobster turned informant Henry Hill. And recent events had fans of his work blessed with another crime-filled drama that was inspired by yet another reality-stranger-than-fiction tale in the form of 2019’s “The Irishman,” Scorsese’s visual interpretation of Charles Brandt’s book “I Heard You Paint Houses.” This similarity alone could place this potential work of art on display with the fellow greats.

Since this project is only being talked about at the moment, as production has been pushed to March of next year, not much else could be said about “Killers of the Flower Moon” except that it would possibly feature a cast that includes long-time Scorsese contributors such as Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. There are high expectations for this project because of how these actors have brought their A-game with their previous contributions to Martin Scorsese’s works (Robert De Niro’s nomination for his work in “Taxi Driver” and win for “Raging Bull” while DiCaprio has achieved a best actor nomination for Scorsese’s “The Aviator”). 

David Grann’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” will bring with it a shocking revisiting of an old case that is based on years of investigation. But a masterpiece in the making can be what’s expected, with further investigation creating new theories for a crime that was made decades ago.

S. T. Perez, Texas A&M University, San Antonio

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S.T. Perez

Texas A&M University – San Antonio
English With Concentration on Teacher Certification

I enjoy music, old movies, and am trying to read some of the classics while finishing school. Writing has always been my passion; I will do what I can to let my ideas be known!

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