Filmmaker Martin Scorsese (right) directs Lily Gladstone (left) in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which premieres in theaters around the world on Oct. 20.

(“Killers of the Flower Moon” trailer courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

Oppression does not necessarily know a particular color, especially American oppression.

Furthermore, oppression and White supremacy manifests in many forms.

The Martin Scorsese-directed “Killers of the Flower Moon” is a phenomenal depiction of racism in Oklahoma with vibes of a nearby massacre, which might make the film a favorite to dominate the 2024 Academy Awards.

God works in mysterious ways.

Yes, that cliché is utilized too much.

But it is true in many cases of racial and ethnic discrimination at the hands of White supremacy.

Many people of color were displaced in America by White supremacy.

Often, the White man wanted the Black or Brown man’s property and they just took it without compensation.

But there are many stories about how people of color finally got land that the White man did not want or did not control, and God touched that land making it more profitable than the land that was stolen from.

In “Killers of the Flower Moon,” the Osage people move from places like Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas and find refuge on the prairies of Oklahoma.

Although the White man’s influence has stripped the Osage of some of their heritage and rituals, God has blessed their land with oil making their settlement the richest per capita in the country.

In “Killers of the Flower Moon,” the Osage even enjoy a good relationship with the White man although other tribes might not have enjoyed such unity.

Many White men have even married into wealthy Osage families, ensuring that the blessings that the Osage have received just does not belong exclusively to the Osage.

Therein, lays the problem.

Are the White men marrying Osage women because of love?

Or are the White men marrying the Osage because of convenience and cash?

Regardless, of the reasoning behind the unions, life is great in Oklahoma, and it appears to be getting even better for the full-blooded Osage woman Mollie (Lily Gladstone) when she becomes smitten by her driver Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio).

In “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Ernest Burkhart has arrived in Oklahoma fresh from the battlefields of war.

DiCaprio’s Ernest even looks authentically like a soldier fresh from war, down to the rotten look of his teeth.

He plans to work for his uncle William Hale (Robert De Niro) who sees himself as some sort of king because of his wealth and power as the town’s sheriff.

His uncle gives him the lay of the land and teaches him about the Osage people.

And when he catches Mollie’s eye, Hale even encourages the relationship.

While love is a beautiful thing and a good relationship with the Osage is even more beautiful, marrying into a wealthy Osage family could be the “most beautifullest thing in this world” (to quote rapper Keith Murray) because marriage and children could parlay some Osage land wealth into wealth for Ernest, his brother Byron (Scott Shepherd), their uncle and the rest of their family.

If something unexpected happens to certain members of Mollie’s family members and the new couple has children, that wealth becomes under King Hale’s purview.

To make matters worse, many people in the Oklahoma town begin dying under suspicious circumstances and for some reason those deaths go uninvestigated by the sheriff’s department.

Films like “Killers of the Flower Moon” are more important nowadays because a climate exists in America where history is getting rewritten if it makes White people look bad or feel guilty.

Many indigenous people were cheated out of everything in the name of White supremacy.

While some educators, administrators and politicians seek to romanticize parts of American history, with “Killers of the Flower Moon,” the great Scorsese makes a movie that seeks not only to tell the White man’s story but how the White man’s actions adversely affected an entire segment of the population.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” shines, partly, because of its depiction of the term “friend” and whether that can apply in an interracial way during a time of much racial animosity.

In a lot of ways for people of color, fake friendships led to much of their own oppression when the alleged friendship was just a ruse to get close enough to a person or group to take everything they had to enrich themselves.

But “Killers of the Flower Moon” does not just focus on the oppression of the Osage people.

The film also focuses on the beauty of Osage culture and heritage, especially in a scene where the ancestors visit Mollie’s mother.

The clothing that the Osage wear is simply beautiful as it shows a people that have become Americanized to an extent, but still hold true to their values and customs.

However, the beauty cannot always overshadow the barrage of violence inflicted on the Osage people, and as “Killers of the Flower Moon” shows, the violence endured by other communities of color.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” takes place in rural Oklahoma in the 1920s.

At the same time in Tulsa, Okla., a group of Black Americans had created their own self-sustained community known as Black Wall Street.

However, because of state-sanctioned racism, Black Wall Street and all its wealth was decimated.

From the beginning of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” moviegoers will feel the vibe of those lost during the 1921 Tulsa, Okla. race riot.

Therefore, when moviegoers see that Scorsese injects news bulletins about the Black Wall Street massacre, they will see parallels in the plights of all people of color in America.

The only criticism that some will have for “Killers of the Flower Moon” will be the 3 hours and 26 minutes running time of the film.

Thankfully, the film is so beautiful, melodic, tragic and necessary that the long time is needed so that moviegoers will get a true depiction of American history.

The good.

The bad.

And the downright ugly.







Todd A. Smith
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