Then Hollywood does not wish the elderly. Clint Eastwood makes his “guaranteed last” film at 93, William Friedkin released a conversational drama just before his death at 87. Ridley Scott is still 85 years old, and in November he will send the historical blockbuster Napoleon to cinemas, after which he will rush into the sequel to Gladiator. At the age of 84, Francis Ford Coppola said he was bored during his directorial break and invested all his fortune in the dream utopian film Megapolis.
Martin Scorsese could be described as the youngest of all this series of matadors, because he is only 80 years old. However, it is also the most visible in the long term. His media pressure is compounded when, due to the ongoing actors’ strike, he is the only one who can promote the new film. His daughter Francesca makes humorous videos on TikTok with him, gives interviews everywhere we look, and is especially one of the most vocal critics of the current form of Hollywood. At the same time, he warned against multi-colored Marvel women back in the days before it was cool, and current developments prove him right in retrospect.
At the same time, Killers of the Blooming Moon can be seen as Scorsese’s self-confident plot of Hollywood. Only a living legend and a devoted cinephile who has breathed for the film since the first time he went to the cinema can afford to give such a gift. And Pranic is not pleased that today’s viewers can see on the screen more or less a variation of the same thing over and over again – a craft fair attraction. Scorsese claims that content has replaced movies, and content should primarily be something that fills the stomach, not the cinema. Killers of the Blooming Moon is thus primarily an effort to bring BIG storytelling back to movie theaters. A BIG story with a BIG cast on a BIG scale, all in a HUGE running time of 206 minutes.
It must be added that he does so in a way that is not quite audience-friendly, which is clearly the director’s intention. You can find a straight-line flush in the adjacent halls, for this you need to find a way, adjust your expectations and ideas about the characters.
I will not play this!
The story based on real events brings us to the beginning of the 20s of the last century in the territory of the Osedži tribe. Oil was found on the reservation, which suddenly made the Native Americans the richest community in the world. However, wealth also attracted vultures, and strange deaths and murders of Indians began to accumulate in the reservation, which, of course, no one investigated…
A forgotten chapter in the American history of racial oppression and injustice was revived a few years ago by journalist and writer David Grann in a book of the same name. At the same time, it is primarily told from the point of view of police officer Tom White and for the most part it focuses on the investigation of the murders and the consequences that this had on consolidating the importance and power of the FBI. The film adaptation could have turned out similarly, the first version that Scorsese and co-screenwriter Eric Roth came up with was just such a traditional procedural, and White was to be played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
However, the main star and at the same time the producer made up his mind that he did not intend to play another representative of today’s so ridiculous archetype of the “white savior”, a white man who comes to save an oppressed minority. Therefore, Scorsese and Roth again sat down at the typewriter and took DiCaprio’s request to heart really strongly.
As a result, the last third is devoted to the investigation itself. For the first two thirds, we follow the life stories of extremely repulsive creatures. DiCaprio eventually took on the role of Ernest Burkhart, a war veteran, opportunist and greedy naïveté who calculatedly marries the good-natured Indian Molie, played by Lily Gladstone, who is to inherit a large fortune from oil income in the future. To achieve this, he must gradually get rid of her relatives. In the background of the diabolical plan is Burkhart’s uncle, played by Scorsese’s former “muse” Robert De Niro – under the mask of a benevolent uncle and a local patron, a coldly calculating beast is hiding, who is concerned with only one thing: to get the property of the Osages.
Both acting legends have probably never played such despicable characters in their careers. Even DiCaprio’s sadistic slaver Candie from Tarantino’s Django Unchained is quite the likable compared to Ernesto. Even among the other white residents of the town near the oil fields, we cannot find a positive character. Envious parasites routinely steal jewelry from coffins, murder their wives for inheritance, or their neighbors for life insurance policies. Whites murder Indians by the dozen and do so without any remorse or embarrassment because they are covered by a lax criminal system in which the rights of minorities are suppressed.
Ropa, capitalism, genocide
It’s no wonder that Scorsese really took this story to heart, which is also reflected in his personal, touching cameo at the very end. In the case of the Osage murders, the things he likes and often portrays in his films are met – violence, corruption and greed. This goes hand in hand with the three factors that laid the foundations of modern America – oil, capitalism and genocide. The oil that turns the wheels of extraordinary industrial growth and progress. Capitalism, which forces you to literally walk over corpses in the pursuit of wealth. And last but not least, it is the genocide of the Indians, without which it would not be possible to conquer and colonize the land of the brave and free.
It is not by chance that another local event, which despite its horror was erased from the American collective memory for many decades, is also recalled in Zabijáci through a film weekly. The massacre of more than a hundred African-Americans in Tulsa and the burning of their neighborhood resulted in the destruction of a prosperous and wealthy community nicknamed “Negro Wall Street.” For many years, only a fraction of historians knew about the pogrom, it became widely known only a few years ago thanks to the HBO comic miniseries Watchmen. The killers will thus have a similar effect from the point of view of Native Americans, which is also confirmed by the fact that the book model is again on the bestseller list.
Killers of the Blooming Moon brings seriousness and dignity back to cinemas. Scorsese took his traditional collaborators, and so there is not a single false note in the film, everything runs like a Swiss watch. The actors play for their lives, the camera of Rodrigo Prieto alternates the spectacular scenery of oil rigs and burning steppes with the claustrophobic interiors of the bedroom in which the Indian girl Molie fights for her life, the music of the recently deceased Robbie Robertson underlines the scenes with a playful connection of jazz and Native American music, completely in the rhythm of the never-failing editing Thelma Schoonmaker.
Let’s be honest though – The Killers is an anomaly, and probably would have been in the past that Scorsese so fondly remembers as a time of artistic diversity. It is very reminiscent of Heaven’s Gate from 1980, also an almost four-hour audience-unfriendly revisionist western, which buried the career of the director of The Deer Hunter Michael Camino and ruined the traditional studio United Artists due to the enormous budget.
Scorsese is not in danger of such a fate – despite the generous budget of two hundred million, there is no need to worry that the producing streaming platform Apple Original Films will go bankrupt because of it. They see the collaboration with Scorsese primarily as a ticket to the world of prestigious festivals and awards, similar to what Netflix once did for the Irishman. Very few filmmakers can afford such exclusive creative control to serve up a film like Killers of the Blooming Moon to audiences.
Would they benefit from clippers and a brisker pace? Absolutely yes. Would Scorsese be forced to compromise? Absolutely yes. But would it be harmful? As we could see in recent years, the blank check from streaming platforms for absolute creative freedom did not quite benefit many well-known and experienced creators, and the films created in this way were received with embarrassment even by orthodox fans (remember Fincher’s Manko).
Scorsese does not fail in this regard as much as others, which can be attributed to his experience and authorial self-discipline. Furthermore, as shown by creative disagreements with the original producing studio Paramount over the second version of the script, which replaced the “white saviors” with white killers, The Killers would not even have been allowed into production under the traditional studio system. So let’s be happy for such an extraordinary coincidence of circumstances, because thanks to it we can witness an exceptionally conceived narrative.
But let’s also accept the fact that similar films are doomed to extinction, just like De Niro’s character thinks about Osage. I wish we were as wrong as he was.
Movie: Killers of the Blooming Moon
Killers of the Flower Moon
Drama / Crime / Historical / Thriller / Western
Artwork: David Grann (book)
Screenplay: Eric Roth, Martin Scorsese
Hrají: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons, Tantoo Cardinal, John Lithgow, Brendan Fraser, Louis Cancelmi, Tatanka Means
In cinemas from 10/19/2023