killers of the flower moon first look

Martin Scorsese is hard at work on Killers of the Flower Moon, and the first image from the film has just arrived. Based on a true story and the book by David Grann, the film chronicles a series of murders that targeted the oil-rich Osage Nation in the 1920s. Certain Women breakout Lily Gladstone plays Mollie Burkhart, one of those wealthy members of the Osage nation, while Leonardo DiCaprio plays her husband, Ernest Burkhart.

Here’s our first look at Killers of the Flower Moon, courtesy of Vanity Fair. The image shows Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s latest. The film tracks the true story that involved the targeting of the Osage Nation in the 1920s. The Osage had been forced off their land and resettled in Oklahoma in the 1800s. But in a twist of fate, the Osage discovered oil under their new land in 1894. This sudden wealth took the Osage from “shortages of food and medicine to a literal eruption of wealth, tens of millions of dollars annually, thanks to the fuel-hungry industrialization sweeping the country that had so long harassed, uprooted, and killed them.”

And, as you might imagine, white people – who had already forced the Osage off their land once – didn’t take kindly to this sudden change. A plot was hatched, and members of the Osage Nation were targeted for murder. But an even more insidious plot unfolded that involved white people marrying into the Osage with the hopes of stealing their wealth.

As the Vanity Fair article explains, “it wasn’t possible for these Great Plains gangsters to kill their way into these riches. Only by marrying into the tribe could the rights be legally claimed by outsiders.”

That’s where DiCaprio’s character comes in. He plays Ernest Burkhart, nephew of brutal rancher William Hale, who is played in the film by Robert De Niro. In this image, DiCaprio’s Burkhart has yet to marry Gladstone’s Molly, who is not yet Mollie Burkhart in the scene, but Mollie Kyle. The pair did marry in 1917, but what followed was not wedded bliss. Instead, in the years that followed, “many of Mollie’s closest family members would die under violent or mysterious circumstances, consolidating wealth in her hands. Meanwhile, her husband and his family’s coldblooded scheme closed around her.”

This is clearly setting DiCaprio up in a villainous role, and that decision wasn’t always in place. Originally, DiCaprio was supposed to play Tom White, a former Texas Ranger who is sent in by the FBI to investigate the murders. However, DiCaprio later decided he wanted to play the more morally ambiguous Ernest Burkhart. This change reportedly spooked Paramount, who were originally set to distribute the film. The studio was worried that audiences wouldn’t want to watch DiCaprio play a bad guy in such a big-budgeted movie (estimated at over $200 million). Thankfully, Apple swooped in and rescued things, and DiCaprio stuck with the Burkhart role. As for Tom White, Jesse Plemons now has the part.

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