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The Haunting Real-Life Story Behind "Killers of the Flower Moon"

Aman shares the history behind the highly acclaimed blockbuster "Killers of the Flower Moon"

The "Killers of the Flower Moon" is directed and co-written by the highly acclaimed Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro, and more. This movie is based on the real-life Osage murders and the man behind it-William King Hale-in Oklahoma between 1910-1930.

On October 20, 2023, Apple TV+ under their Apple Original Films label, and Paramount pictures released this epic western crime drama in theaters in the United States. The movie features world class actors, including Leonardo Dicaprio who plays Ernest Burkhart, Robert De Niro as William King Hale, Ernest's uncle, Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart, Ernest's Native American wife, Jesse Plemons as Tom White, Brendan Fraser - the Oscar winner last year- who plays W.S. Hamilton and more.

The background of this intriguing movie start’s way back in the 1840’s when the US government began to enforce forced relocations, the Osage were moved repeatedly until finally, by the 1870s, they were relocated to northern Oklahoma. Intentionally relocating the Osage to some of the worst farmland in Oklahoma, the government accidentally moved them to the country's richest oil deposits. Oil reserves were discovered in the late 1890s, and the Osage people suddenly became the world's richest community. The Osage tribe earned more than $30 million during the oil boom of 1923. Osage Nation Reservation (present Osage County, Oklahoma) was tribally owned and held in trust by the U.S. government under the Osage Allotment Act of 1906. Each allottee received an equal share of the royalties on Osage mineral leases.

Murders were committed to take land and wealth from Osage members whose land produced oil. From 1921 to 1926, newspapers called the increasing number of unsolved murders the “Reign of Terror.” There were at least sixty wealthy, full-blood Osage Indians killed between 1918 and 1931. In many cases, Osage individuals who married outsiders were murdered in order to inherit their headrights and wealth. Murder by poisoning was common. Arsenic and strychnine were easily obtained in the 1920s and were used to kill Osage family members, often slowly and painfully. Four agents from the Department of Interior's Indian Affairs Bureau acted as undercover investigators. For two years, the agents investigated a crime ring led by Hale, known as the "King of the Osage Hills". He ordered the murders of his nephew's wife and other members of her family to gain control of their oil rights.

Ann Hornaday from the Washington post said, “ It’s startling, self-conscious and strangely of a piece with the admirable, vexingly uneven movie that has come before: In other words, it’s totally Scorsese.” Rex Bianchi, a junior in Franklin High School said, “I didn’t know anything about this movie before it was released, but when I watched it, I got attached to it to ever since” The movie currently holds a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is expected to be one of the biggest films of 2023, and the reviews are only backing up that expectation.

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