The director changed the script to focus more on the Osage community, which made its fortune in the 1920s thanks to the oil that abounded on its lands.
At the beginning, Killers of the Flower Moon must have seemed like a completely different story. The film is inspired by the eponymous book by David Grann, a journalistic investigation into a series of murders targeting the Osage indigenous community in the early 1920s. Centered on the FBI investigation, the feature film initially followed Tom White, the chief investigator, whose role was entrusted to Leonardo DiCaprio. But for Martin Scorsese, something was wrong with this approach.
“I realized I was making a movie about all white guys. In other words, I was taking an outside point of view, which worried me,” explained the filmmaker in an interview with Time.
So the director decided that Leonardo DiCaprio would ultimately be Ernest Burkhart, a World War I veteran involved in his uncle’s (Robert De Niro) plan to steal Osage wealth. Lily Gladstone plays Mollie, Ernest’s Osage wife, and Tom White is ultimately played by Jesse Plemons. With Eric Roth (Revelations, Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Scorsese revised the entire scenario to modify its perspective. In particular, they sought help from the Osage community itself. This is particularly what Lily Gladstone explained to Vulture in August :
“Over time, the community got used to our presence and became even more involved. It’s a different film than the one Scorsese originally imagined, thanks to what the community had to say,” said the actress. “This is not a white savior story. It’s the Osage who say, ‘Do something. Here’s some money, come help us”she added.
About the actress, Scorsese explains that he sees in her “intensity and serenity at the same time. The eyes say it all”and Gladstone describes this film as a “great American tragedy”. Killers of the Flower Moon will be available on Apple TV from October 18. The cast also includes Brendan Fraser and John Lithgow.