The first trailer for Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon was solid, introducing the concept of the “two wolves” and Lily Gladstone as the film’s star. The new trailer more adroitly lays out the plot—the Osage have “the worst land possible” but it turns out, that land has oil, and William Hale, played by Robert DeNiro, wants that oil, and the money it brings. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Ernest Burkhart, one of Hale’s co-conspirators and ultimately, the husband of Osage woman Mollie (Gladstone).
The trailer doesn’t reveal the more granular relationships—Ernest is William Hale’s nephew—but you do get a sense of Ernest’s conflicted loyalties as he marries and has kids with Mollie, as well as getting a sense of Mollie’s iron-willed appeal. Also, the music in this trailer is AMAZING. I tried to find an ID and couldn’t, but I will keep looking (the first trailer’s music is by Christopher Lane, a composer and sound designer).
Branding Killers of the Flower Moon as “a true American story” is also a fantastic touch. It is, yes, a true story, but emphasizing American is a brilliant provocation. Because it IS an American story, perhaps THE American story—theft, slaughter, prying land from Native communities by any means necessary (consider this a reminder to go see Lakota Nation vs. United States). It’s a tale literally as old as America, but this is a particularly brutal, ugly chapter, and it’s RECENT. These events are just a hundred years old, there are people still alive affected by the Osage murders. I REALLY want to go see this movie in Oklahoma, where the Osage Nation is situated, where these events occurred. There are people who will insist it never happened, but Martin Scorsese is reminding us—this is a TRUE AMERICAN story.
Also, Lily Gladstone continues to look incredible. She got the most raves coming out of Cannes, and it’s easy to see why, even in just a trailer. She’s such a magnetic presence, and she does so much by saying so little. This film was originally supposed to center on DiCaprio playing investigator Tom White—now played by Jesse Plemons—but after meeting with Osage leaders, Scorsese and co-writer Eric Roth re-worked the script to make Mollie the central figure and ground the story within the Osage community, and DiCaprio shifted to play Ernest instead. That was a smart move, because Mollie is far more compelling protagonist than the investigator in a murder mystery in which everyone already knows who did it (although Plemons is a charismatic actor who can make any role engaging, even the guy solving a crime with very obvious culprits).
I am half dreading the Killers discourse, because there are so many people who will either insist this never happened, or it didn’t happen like this, or it wasn’t this bad, or it’s not a big deal that the Osage never got their head rights back, or any other of thousands of ways of dismissing, diminishing, or otherwise mitigating the circumstances of the story because it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant for white people. But I am also looking forward to the other half of the discourse, which is just people discovering how great Lily Gladstone is.
Bring on the Lily Gladstone Oscar run!
The music featured in the trailer is "Stadium Pow Wow" by The Halluci Nation ft. Black Bear.