Scorsese & DiCaprio met with Osage Nation to accurately portray cultural details in upcoming movie

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio meet with Osage cultural leaders to discuss ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ film
Lisa Frechette

The Osage News reported about a meeting that was held between Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Osage cultural leaders Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear, and Chad Renfro, the meeting organizer.

The discussion, held Monday night, February 22nd, 2021, was centered on the upcoming film adaptation of Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Indian Murders and the Birth of the FBI, a bestselling book from The New Yorker staff writer David Grann.

The true-crime book, which The Boston Globe called “a masterful work of literary journalism,” details a series of horrific murders of Osage people in Osage County, Oklahoma during the 1910s through the 1930s. It’s a story that’s considered “one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.”

Martin Scorsese views moviemaking as a “powerful tool to knowledge and understanding.”

True to form, Martin Scorsese’s visit to Oklahoma was to make sure he tells this story as authentically as possible. The award-winning director has been known for advocating for diversity and authenticity in filmmaking, far before it became the “trendy” thing to do. 

In 1993, after Bruce Weber wrote a controversial piece The New York Times about his impatience with foreign films following the death of Federico Fellini, Martin Scorcese wrote a letter to the editor, saying “I also like movies that tell a story, but is the American way the only way of telling stories?”

He went on to say that “diversity guarantees our cultural survival. When the world is fragmenting into groups of intolerance, ignorance and hatred, film is a powerful tool to knowledge and understanding.”

It appears that Martin Scorcese will use his star power to enhance knowledge and understanding around the cruelty that was committed against the Osage people while respecting their culture and traditions.

Sparking “thoughtful conversation” with the Osage people.

During Monday night’s meeting with the Osage people, an Osage elder named Mongrain Lookout said a prayer in the Osage language. Martin Scorsese then expanded on his plan to include details of authentic Osage culture to “paint a full, truthful picture of the time and the people.” The film crew will be working with community advisors as the production starts moving.

According to the release shared with Osage News, “[Martin] Scorsese made a presentation of the overall intention of the film, particularly highlighting the themes of trust and betrayal, how ultimately the story of Mollie Kyle and Ernest Burkhart is a microcosm of the wider betrayal of the Osage people.”

Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese spoke about how the story continues to be relevant in 2021 as America faces a “reckoning with our past” making it vital to properly represent the story in the film adaptation.  This film marks the seventh time Scorsese is doing a movie with DiCaprio and the first time since the 90s that DiCaprio and De Niro are working together again and believe it or not it’s the first time all three are making a movie together.

Though meeting attendees were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, a release shared that several Osage community members spoke to share their thoughts, concerns, and personal stories with the film crew. They also mentioned that Leonardo DiCaprio asked “several questions which sparked a thoughtful conversation that will inform the script and his character.”

We’re so glad that some of Hollywood’s biggest names are taking the time to ensure that this heartbreaking yet significant part of American history is portrayed as accurately as possible. We’re sure that a lot of goodwill comes out of bringing this story to the big screen. Check back here for updates on Killers of the Flower Moon release dates, trailers, and more.

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