Get ready, everyone: Martin Scorsese is back. Four years after his gangster elegy The Irishman, the legendary American filmmaker is returning with another characterful epic – a historical drama-thriller by the name of Killers Of The Flower Moon. And while most audiences won’t get to see it until it hits screens in the tail-end of 2023, it’s soon to debut at the Cannes Film Festival – where lucky audiences will get a first glimpse at what one of the greatest directors of all time has cooked up.
With the film now just a few months away, here’s what you need to know.
1) It stars both De Niro and DiCaprio
Across his career, Scorsese has had two on-screen muses – the first being Robert De Niro, who’s starred in everything from Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, to Goodfellas, Casino, Raging Bull, and The Irishman; the second being Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s regularly collaborated with the director across the 21st Century, in Gangs Of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, and The Wolf Of Wall Street. Now, we’re getting a Scorsese movie with both of his favourite movie stars at once – his tenth work with De Niro, and sixth with DiCaprio. De Niro plays powerful rancher William Hale, with DiCaprio as his nephew Ernest Burkhart.
2) It’s about indigenous American murders, and the early days of the FBI
It won’t be a surprise that Scorsese’s film is a crime drama – and like all his best work, it’s rooted in a very specific time and place. Killers Of The Flower Moon is set in the 1920s in Oklahoma, and concerns a series of murders of indigenous American people – members of the Osage tribe, whose land was discovered to contain considerable oil deposits. Those killings pointed to a wider political struggle for control of the land and the wealth bestowed from the oil industry – and it was the fledgling FBI that conducted an investigation into who was behind it all. It’s a sort of murder-mystery, then, but the wider canvas of the story is the USA’s historic dealings with native people, the transition from frontier America to something more modern, and the early days of the FBI looking into serial killers.
3) It’s based on David Grann’s acclaimed book
Just as The Irishman was based on a non-fiction book, so too is Killers Of The Flower Moon – the full case was explored by journalist David Grann in his 2017 book, after which Scorsese’s film is named. Grann also wrote the books The Lost City Of Z and The Old Man & The Gun, both of which have received film adaptations in recent years.
4) It’s nearly four hours long
Start your bladder exercises now, everyone. You thought The Irishman’s 209-minute runtime was a marathon? Well, strap in because Killers Of The Flower Moon is reportedly 234 minutes – that’s three hours and 54 minutes long. And look, we’ll take all the masterful Scorsese goodness we can get, but maybe exhibitors will consider an interval for this one. Either that, or don your very own Dune-style stillsuit.
5) Scorsese received input from the Osage Nation
Given the limited representation on screen of indigenous American people, it’s important to do justice to their stories and culture on screen – and so part of the process of making the film involved consulting with members of the Osage Nation. “The work is better when you let the world inform the work,” Flower Moon star Lily Gladstone told Variety, noting how the film changed due to that guidance. “As the community warmed up to our presence, the more the community got involved with the film. It’s a different movie than the one [Scorsese] walked in to make almost entirely because of what the community had to say about how it was being made and what was being portrayed.”
6) It’s the latest film in the Bren-aissance
The world is thrilled that Brendan Fraser is not only back on our screens, but now has an Oscar to boot. And while the Batgirl film he starred in was shelved, he will have a role to play in Killers Of The Flower Moon, as lawyer W.S. Hamilton. He can handle the truth!
7) It has a ludicrously high budget
By all accounts, Killers Of The Flower Moon is not a small movie. It features several of the biggest stars in the world, has a particularly epic runtime, and comes from a director who’s renowned for going big rather than going home. But even so, its budget seems astronomical – reportedly in the range of $200 million. That’s pretty astonishing for a non-special-effects-heavy film, telling a human story, in the great outdoors. Unless, you know, Thanos is playing a bit-part or something – but given Scorsese’s storied thoughts on Marvel movies, that doesn’t seem likely. Still, it’ll be interesting to see where all that money ends up on screen.
8) It boasts the same cinematographer as Barbie
Props are due to cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto – he has two films arriving this year, and they couldn’t be more opposed to each other. On the one hand, he’s worked with Scorsese on delivering an Earthy, gritty, Western-tinged tale of murder and oil and money, having already lensed the likes of The Wolf Of Wall Street, Silence, and The Irishman. His other job? Making everything look as pink as possible in Greta Gerwig’s eyeball-sizzling Barbie movie. We celebrate a DoP who can adhere to wildly different creative visions.
9) It has the full Scorsese dream-team on board
When you work for as long as Scorsese, you tend to find people you want to keep working with. And several of his regulars are back here – longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker, producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff, and Robbie Robertson on music duties. Robertson has scored several of Scorsese’s films – from Raging Bull, to Casino, to The Wolf Of Wall Street – and as a member of the band The Band (confusing, we know), he was on screen in the director’s concert film The Last Waltz.
10) It’s getting a big-screen release
Here’s where that bladder workout will really come into play – Killers Of The Flower Moon will be heading to cinemas. Yes, it’s an Apple TV+ film, but theatrical is a big deal for the director (he even got Netflix to play ball on that with The Irishman). So, you can catch this one on the big screen from 6 October in a theatrical release, before it streams on Apple down the line.
Killers Of The Flower Moon comes to cinemas from 6 October