The era of the Westerns is one of the most storied in Hollywood. Set in the lawless times of the Old Wild West, these movies visualised the stories of heroes coming to save the locals, adventurers setting off west to find their fortunes, and gruff loners tasked with doing a bit of both. Even in the contemporary revival of the genre, these tropes have held up for the most part across entertainment. Even so, Martin Scorsese’s upcoming epic Killers of the Flower Moon will notably flip the familiar perspective of the genre.
A much-loved genre with a mostly singular viewpoint
Westerns tend to have a set blueprint. The inherent adventure and heroism that comes with the similar treads and setting has allowed the genre to become so popular. You can easily look at the reviews of all the top slot games online to see that its tropes continue to be drawn on by creatives. Games such as Amazing Link Bounty, Armadillo Goes West, Big Bucks Bandits Megaways, Big Boom Riches, and Wild West Gold Megaways remain true to our classic perception of Westerns.
We’ve seen much of the same at the cinema in the modern mini-resurgence of Westerns. The Sisters Brothers and True Grit (2010) centre on gunslingers being sent out to kill someone, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight (both by Quentin Tarantino) have a bounty hunter as core to the plot, and The Salvation follows the classic tale of revenge in the west. Then there’s Bone Tomahawk and its encounter with a vicious native tribe. Hostiles could be seen as bucking the trend but didn’t exactly earn critical acclaim.
Flipping the script with Killers of the Flower Moon
Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Eric Roth have used David Grann’s 2017 non-fiction book, Killers of the Flower Moon, as their upcoming movie’s source material. The book tells of the investigations into a series of murders of the Osage people in Oklahoma once oil was discovered during the 1920s. However, the filmmakers have decided to pivot the approach from the point of view of the investigators to that of the natives and victims.
Early critics have hailed this move, mainly because it gave Lily Gladstone more screentime for her powerful performance. Gladstone plays Mollie Burkhart, an Osage native married to Ernest, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Also in the mix are Robert De Niro, Brendan Fraser, John Lithgow, Tantoo Cardinal, and Jesse Plemons. In the official description of the upcoming film, it’s said that “real love crosses paths with unspeakable betrayal,” which would seemingly pivot the Western trope of the saviour character.
With Plemons as the presumed exception, given his role as the BOI agent, we can expect the biggest names on the cast list of De Niro, Fraser, and even DiCaprio to turn heel in this Western crime drama. Some critics have hailed it as a “sobering appraisal” of the relationship between the United States and the indigenous peoples of North America, as well as the inherent greed and injustice that was rife at a time when finding your own fortune was emphasised above all else.
Killers of the Flower Moon hits cinemas on 20 October 2023, but how long the 206-minute flick will remain on the big screen isn’t currently known, as Apple TV+ will become its more permanent home shortly after release.
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