Killers of the Flower Moon: Martin Scorsese's latest work of love, oil, greed and murder


At some point, nearly every fan of comic book movies held a grudge against Martin Scorsese when he expressed his opinion, that comic book movies didn't qualify as true cinema.

However, despite the controversy stirred by his comment, it's hard to deny the fact that this 80-year-old filmmaker is a true master of his craft. With 26 films in his repertoire, Scorsese's popularity largely results from his expertise in creating movies, primarily focused on the crime genre, basically gangster stories, and his works tend to lean toward in-depth character studies. 

After The Irishman on Netflix (a movie that I really enjoyed), I couldn't wait to see what Scorsese had in store with his latest film. But much like The Irishman, Killers of the Flower Moon also has a substantial runtime, clocking in at three and a half hours.

The story

Before we delve into the story, it's important to address my deep-seated discomfort with the emotions stirred by this film. It's truly remarkable how human greed can drive individuals to extraordinary lengths, and the extent to which people can inflict cruelty upon one another.

This film doesn't fit neatly into the horror genre but rather explores themes that will undoubtedly lead to introspection and a re-evaluation of one's perception of humanity. Anyway the story.

Based on David Grann's popular book, Killers of the Flower Moon takes place in 1920s Oklahoma and tells the story of a series of murders within the wealthy Osage Nation, known as the Reign of Terror. It follows Mollie Burkhart, an Osage Nation member, as she tries to save her community from these oil-driven killings that involve both love and betrayal.

The goods

One of the major perks of this film, in my opinion, is its runtime. It's a three-hour cinematic journey directed by Martin Scorsese, and it's worth every penny you spend on it in the theatres.

In this film, you'll find familiar faces like Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, both of whom have previously collaborated with Scorsese. Their on-screen chemistry is evident, bringing the characters to life convincingly. Their performances and character development make the extended runtime completely warranted.

But the standout performance comes from an actress I wasn't familiar with, Lily Gladstone, who plays Mollie. Despite her limited screen time, it is really impressive how she conveys the character's emotions through her expressions.

The attention to detail in the set and costume design is remarkable. Whether it's the vintage cars, firearms, or the costumes of the Native American characters, it all immerses you in the time period so effectively that you sometimes forget you're watching fiction.

The cinematography, done by Rodrigo Prieto, who previously worked on The Irishman "barbie" and The Wolf of Wall Street, is predictably outstanding.

While this movie falls within the crime genre, it's surprising how frequently you'll find yourself laughing, particularly during the interactions between Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio's characters. The music and sound design transport you effectively to the time period, establishing the right atmosphere for the film.

Despite its extended length, the editors skilfully keep the audience engaged, especially during the first two hours. It's only in the third act, with the introduction of new characters, that the pacing begins to slow down. The movie also boasts a refreshingly creative ending, setting it apart from many other films in the same genre.

The bad

It's worth mentioning that the movie has a lengthy runtime. Martin Scorsese takes his time to build the characters, which some viewers may find enjoyable, while others might prefer a quicker pace.

What really is cinema?

Regarding my personal reaction to this film, it inspired me to delve into the essence of what a profound cinematic encounter is supposed to be. A cinematic work, I believe, transcends mere entertainment and should, instead, etch a lasting impression on one's thoughts and emotions.

In this particular case, the film undeniably exudes a cinematic allure, drawing viewers into its immersive narrative. However, what truly intrigues me is the complex emotional aftermath it leaves in its wake. 

After three hours, a deep empathy for the Osage community coexists with a profound disdain for the systemic flaws within the American framework. These conflicting sentiments underscore the film's ability to evoke deep-seated emotions, not all of which are positive.

It brings to the forefront the question of cinema's role in our lives – whether it serves as an escape from reality or a mirror reflecting the unvarnished realities of human behaviour, often (like in this case) driven by capitalist motives.


Martin Scorsese has delivered yet another remarkable cinematic masterpiece. It's evident that this is a story he was passionate about, given the intricate character arcs and studies that unfold throughout the film. While it may be a lengthy feature, by the end of it, one can truly appreciate the meticulous effort put into ensuring that viewers comprehend the story's origins and trajectory.

The film evoked a strong emotional response in me, though not necessarily a positive one. It's a cinematic journey that delves into a challenging theme that some, including myself, may find hard to digest.

X: @stanslausmanthi

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