Filmmaker Martin Scorsese has certainly done his share of gangster dramas and crime thrillers, not to mention spiritual dramas, serious biopics, music documentaries, relationship dramas, dark revenge thrillers, black comedies, family fantasies, and even supernatural thrillers.
One thing he hasn’t done though is a straight-up western, though that’s about to change with his upcoming “Killers of the Flower Moon” at Paramount Pictures. Set in the 1920s, the story focuses on a string of murders of members of the Osage nation in Oklahoma after oil was discovered beneath their land. The series of slayings was one of the fledgeling FBI’s first major homicide investigations.
Based on the novel by “The Lost City of Z” author David Grann, Oscar-winning scribe Eric Roth has adapted the script for the film and Scorsese tells Premiere (via Collider) that he thinks it fits into the mold of western classics like “Rio Bravo” and “The Searchers”:
“We think it’s a western. It happened in 1921-1922 in Oklahoma. They are certainly cowboys, but they have cars and also horses. The film is mainly about the Osage, an Indian tribe that was given horrible territory, which they loved because they said to themselves that Whites would never be interested in it.
Then we discovered oil there and, for about ten years, the Osage became the richest people in the world, per capita. Then, as with the Yukon and the Colorado mining regions, the vultures disembark, the White man, the European arrives, and all was lost. There, the underworld had such control over everything that you were more likely to go to jail for killing a dog than for killing an Indian.
Leonardo DiCaprio will play the main role, Bob (Robert De Niro) will return to play William Hale, “King of the Osage Hills,” the man responsible for most of the murders. The rest will be Native American actors.
It’s so interesting to think about the mentality that leads us to this. The history of civilization goes back to Mesopotamia. The Hittites are invaded by another people, they disappear, and later it is said that they have been assimilated or, rather, absorbed.
It is fascinating to see this mentality which is reproduced in other cultures, through two world wars. And which is therefore timeless, I think. Finally, this is the film that we are going to try to make.”
The closest Scorsese has come to a western before was arguably 2002’s “Gangs of New York”. Filming on ‘Flower Moon’ is set to begin next month on location in Oklahoma.