Killers of the Flower Moon Parent Guide
Dark and riveting, this real life tale of greed and murder struggles to justify its overlong runtime.
Parent Movie Review
The discovery of oil beneath tribal lands in the early 20th century produces massive wealth in the Osage Nation – and violence. While the Osage people are entitled to the valuable headrights to the oilfields on their land, those rights are heritable. White men eager to access oil riches soon swarm the community, both as rig workers and as potential spouses to Osage women.
Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) is neither – at least, not at first. Following his service as an infantry cook in the Great War, Ernest has come to work for his uncle “King” Bill Hale (Robert De Niro), a wealthy cattle rancher in the area. The job puts him in regular contact with Mollie (Lily Gladstone), a wealthy Osage woman, with whom he falls in love. Hale encourages his nephew to pursue the relationship, but soon he’s encouraging a lot more than a little love: Mollie’s headrights are valuable, but when she inherits the profits generated by her mother and sisters’ claims, she could be one of the wealthiest women in the country. Burkhart, Hale, and some other white residents of Osage County set out to make sure that all that lovely money finds its way into their pockets by any means necessary. Murders have been committed for far smaller sums, and for a sum this large, the body count could get high…
Based on a real-life series of brutal and under-investigated murders in the Osage Nation, Killers of the Flower Moon spirits its audience away for a tension-filled conspiracy in the Great Plains, in a story where love is a liability, and murder for hire is a booming business. While legendary director Martin Scorsese continues to showcase his incredible abilities for visual storytelling, this might not be a film for everyone – and not necessarily for the reasons you’d expect. Scorsese has a track record for making gruesomely violent, profanity-riddled crime films, but not so here. Much more in keeping with contemporary social expectations, characters seldom use anything stronger than “damn”, and while a number of murders are seen on screen, the level of violence is down significantly from his other work.
Where this film will lose viewers is in its length. It’s a fascinating look at a piece of history you don’t often hear about, and an incredible (relatively) true story, but it’s also too long. Not that I’m saying this should be hacked down to 90 minutes, but once you hit 3-and-a-half-hours, you really need to justify the time you’re demanding from your audience, and I don’t think the film makes the best use of all that time. That being said, if you can make the commitment to sit still for the entire film (or watch it at home so you can schedule your own bathroom breaks), you’ll find an incredible story, rich in big ideas, big themes, and clever characters. Exactly what you’d expect from Martin Scorsese – down to the long runtime.Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone. Running time: 206 minutes. Theatrical release October 20, 2023. Updated October 20, 2023
Watch the trailer for Killers of the Flower Moon
Killers of the Flower Moon
Rating & Content Info
Why is Killers of the Flower Moon rated R? Killers of the Flower Moon is rated R by the MPAA for violence, some grisly images, and language.
Violence: Several characters are shot and killed. A number of people are poisoned, in some cases fatally. A brief fistfight is seen. Several men are violently beaten. A number of dead bodies are seen, including one child. A dog is killed.
Sexual Content: Adult characters are seen kissing passionately and there are several vague sexual references.
Profanity: There are four sexual expletives and six scatological curses, as well as regular use of mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters drink alcohol and smoke tobacco.
Page last updated October 20, 2023
Killers of the Flower Moon Parents' Guide
For more information about the history behind this movie’s story, you can read the following articles:
Wikipedia: Osage Indian Murders
PBS: Osage Murders (short film)
Crimes against Indigenous people are not limited to the past. The crisis around missing and murdered Indigenous women is ongoing and has claimed an unknown number of lives. Indigenous women face a massively higher risk of murder and sexual violence. What factors have allowed this tragedy to continue? How have governments in North America addressed this crisis? In what other areas does modern society fail Indigenous communities?
Native Hope: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
US Department of the Interior: Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Crisis
Amnesty International Canada: No More Stolen Sisters
Wikipedia: Femicide in Mexico
Loved this movie? Try these books…
The movie is based on the book Killers of the Flower Moon written by David Grann. In The Deaths of Sybil Bolton: Oil, Greed, and Murder on the Osage Reservation, Dennis McAuliffe Jr explores his own family’s painful experience of the Osage Reign of Terror.
Other books that probe the experience of Indigenous peoples in North American society include The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King and Unreconciled: Family, Truth, and Indigenous Resistance by Jesse Wente. Mona Gable explores the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women in Searching for Savanna: The Murder of One Native American Woman and the Violence Against the Many.
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Another film about violence, oil, and Indigenous community is Wind River. Other movies about the conflict between settler society and Indigenous peoples include Bones of Crows, News of the World, Beans, The conflict between Indigenous tribes and resource corporations are the inspiration for the horror film Don’t Say Its Name.
Director Martin Scorsese is known for films like Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Casino, The Departed, and The Irishman.