Thursday, June 13, 2024

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    Cultural Respect and Collaboration Define Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon

    A Deep Dive into Scorsese's Commitment to Authenticity and Collaboration with the Osage Nation

    In the world of filmmaking, few directors possess the reputation and influence of Martin Scorsese. His upcoming film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” based on David Grann’s meticulously researched non-fiction book, is not only a cinematic endeavor but also a testament to the importance of cultural respect and collaboration with the Osage Nation. At a recent press conference, Scorsese and Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear discussed their journey to bring this story to the screen and the significance of getting it right.

    Respecting the Source Material

    Standing Bear highlighted the Osage Nation’s initial concerns when they learned that the film rights to Grann’s book had been sold. Historically, Native peoples had often been portrayed inaccurately in Hollywood productions, a fact that raised apprehensions about having their story told by someone else. However, their reservations began to fade as Scorsese expressed his intention to tell the story through the perspective of Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman central to the narrative.

    “Marty showed up in my office, and he started out right off saying we are going to film here. We are going to tell this story through the eyes of Mollie. It was a process of building trust,” said Standing Bear.

    A Commitment to Authenticity

    Scorsese’s commitment to authenticity extended beyond mere words. He and his team actively engaged with Osage Nation members throughout the filmmaking process. From creating tapestries for set decoration to meticulously styling actors’ hair, every detail was scrutinized to ensure accuracy.

    “The first thing we have to do is make sure it’s right by the Osage. Even if I made the film 40 years ago, I knew I still felt that way,” Scorsese emphasized. “That meant every possible aspect with every scene with the Osage had to be dealt with people from the Osage Nation.”

    This thorough dedication to getting the portrayal right demonstrated Scorsese’s unwavering commitment to respecting the culture and history of the Osage people.

    Remembering Robbie Robertson

    During the press conference, Scorsese also shared a poignant memory of musician and composer Robbie Robertson, who composed the film’s final score before his passing in August. Robertson’s involvement in the project extended beyond composing music; he worked closely with Osage musicians and singers to ensure the authenticity of the score.

    “He visited us on the set, and it was pretty hot those days,” Scorsese recalled, referencing the sweltering set temperatures. “Robbie was sitting there working with the Osage musicians and singers to make sure that the music that he was going to write wouldn’t make an error.”

    Scorsese’s reminiscence of Robertson’s dedication to the project was tinged with sadness. “He was a wonderful poet,” Scorsese reflected. Their collaboration dated back to the 1978 documentary “The Last Waltz,” which documented the farewell performance of Robertson’s music group, The Band. Scorsese expressed the profound loss he felt, saying, “It’s like losing a piece of yourself.”

    Highlighting Robertson’s Mohawk descent, Scorsese acknowledged the importance of his contributions to indigenous cultures through his art.

    A Film of Significance

    “Killers of the Flower Moon” is poised for a theatrical release on October 20, followed by its streaming debut on Apple. The film received acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, where it garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews.

    When asked what he hopes audiences will take away from the film, Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear underlined the resilience and strength of the Osage Nation. “We are a people that are still here. We are alive with our culture. We are alive and strong despite the difficulties and the tragedies,” he affirmed.

    As “Killers of the Flower Moon” prepares to captivate audiences worldwide, it stands as a testament to the power of cultural respect, collaboration, and the art of storytelling to shed light on the enduring spirit of a people and their history.

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