It’s hard to believe that in about one month, audiences will finally get the chance to see the long-awaited film Killers of the Flower Moon. However, something important to know about Martin Scorsese’s latest film is it hit a few hurdles during its development. Now, its star Leonardo DiCaprio has explained why the true crime drama had to go through script rewrites.
Based on David Grann’s best-selling non-fiction book, Killers of the Flower Moon is about a series of murders inflicted on the Osage Nation during the 1920s after oil was discovered on their land. Leonardo DiCaprio was originally set to play Bureau of Investigation agent Tom White with the film’s emphasis placed on the BOI. But according to the actor’s interview with British Vogue, that point of view didn’t feel right to him. He said:
It’s incredibly understandable why Leonardo DiCaprio feels this way. As he said, he wanted to get into the importance of the crimes that occurred among the Osage tribe and delve deep into the stories about the people who were affected by it.
Once the script went through the rewriting process, DiCaprio switched roles with The Power of the Dog’s Jesse Plemons who took over as Tom White in a reduced supporting role. The Titanic star still played the lead role but in the form of another character- Ernest Burkhart. This real-life character is married to Mollie, a member of the Osage Nation, but he is manipulated by his uncle to betray the Native American community that welcomed him. With more emphasis being placed on Burkhart’s complicated relationship with his wife, it makes sense why DiCaprio seems happier with the script.
Other prominent figures who took part in Killers of the Flower Moon felt the same way that Leonardo DiCaprio did. For example, Lily Gladstone, who is of Blackfeet and Nimíipuu heritage, told Vulture that if the story was told through the FBI’s point of view with Ernest and Mollie’s roles being reduced, it would be “a white-savior story.” Director Martin Scorsese was also in agreement, and he told Time magazine that he didn’t even realize white characters were dominating the story he wanted to tell.
Based on what critics have been saying about Killers of the Flower Moon, it appears that Scorsese and Erin Roth’s screenplay rewrite helped give this movie positive acclaim. Reviews have highlighted DiCaprio and Gladstone’s performances as the true heart of the story as well as the correct handling of the Native American characters. Killers of the Flower Moon emerges as a passion project for the Oscar-winning director in wanting to correct the wrongs Hollywood has made in the past towards Native American representation. With widespread critical acclaim and an all-star cast, I wouldn’t be surprised if this book adaptation received Oscar attention.
Changing a movie’s perspective may be an arduous task, but Leonardo DiCaprio made an excellent point about the importance of getting to the heart of a story compared to too much emphasis on the FBI’s place in it. You’ll have the chance to see Killers of the Flower Moon when it premieres on the 2023 movie schedule in theaters and with an Apple TV+ subscription on October 20.