When he said that his most terrible character to date is similar to Donald Trump at the Cannes Film Festival, Robert De Niro blasted a hole in a pretty scholarly discussion on racism and American history.
Robert De Niro equated William Hale, who helped plan a deadly reign of terror against the Osage people in the 1920s, to the former president when thinking about the role he portrays in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which he plays.
Speaking to reporters the day after the film “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which is based on the nonfiction book of the same name, had its world premiere on Saturday night, De Niro stated, “I don’t really understand why he did what he did.” There is an attitude of entitlement We certainly got much more conscious of structural racism following George Floyd, I suppose. I won’t use his name since he is a moron, but it is the banality of evil that we see today.
He then became more detailed after a few beats.
De Niro said that Hale was able to win over the Osage, who grew wealthy when oil was found on their reservation in Oklahoma, despite the fact that he was stealing their land rights via a terrifying system of marriage and murder. “[Hale] believed [that] he was] loved by people,” he said, “and some people [were]] loving him. There are others who believe Trump would be a good president. Think about how absurd it is.
De Niro has always been a vocal opponent of the previous leader; his own catchphrase “F— Trump” is almost as well-known as “You talkin’ to me?” Unsurprisingly, the foreign journalists in attendance applauded him thunderously after his Cannes comments, which brightened up what had otherwise been a sombre occasion that belied the film’s horrible subject matter.
The Osage Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear, Lily Gladstone, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Martin Scorsese discussed how the movie’s focus shifted from the book’s emphasis on the role the fledgling FBI played in bringing Hale and his associates, including his nephew Ernest Burkhart (DiCaprio), to the crimes they committed against the Osage people.
“When the book was presented to me, I understood that we have to be careful and respectful if we go anywhere near Indigenous nations,” he stated. “I was so impressed by what I heard, their ideals about love and respect and honouring the Earth, [and] truly knowing how to live on this earth, when we had our first meeting with Chief Standing Bear and the council. I discovered that the values were really significant to me since they constantly reoriented me.
Scorsese said early on that he did not want to make the movie a police drama or a tale of how the FBI intervened to rescue the day. I said that the audience was watching before us and didn’t need to know who did it but who didn’t. Leo questioned me, “Where’s the heart of this story?” when he was meant to portray [Agent] Tom White, which Jessie Plemons performed.
The bond between Ernest and Mollie Burkhart (Gladstone), the Osage woman he marries in part because Hale needs him to inherit her family’s property rights, was the core of the story, he realised.
Did he love her, did she love him? was the topic of discussion among the tribal council members, according to Scorsese. So, his betrayal of Mollie and the betrayal of the Osage became our narrative.
“We took great pride in telling the story as best we could,” added DiCaprio, “and took great pride in having them here with us.” What Marty excels at is showing the compassion underneath some of the most twisted and evil personalities. The risk was taking on this very significant tale that was a reckoning with our history, similar to the Tulsa Massacre, which people are just now beginning to understand about.
Although “Killers of the Flower Moon” was based on extensive study, Gladstone, who is descended from Blackfeet and Nimipuu people, drew inspiration from her own grandmother, who she said was Mollie’s contemporaneous, and emphasised that the movie was art, not ethnography.
Native Americans are used to anthropologists being interested in everything we do, she added. These creative spirits here cared about producing a tale that pokes holes in the myths society peddles about what we should or shouldn’t care about. She pointed to Scorsese and questioned who else would urge viewers to confront their own role in white supremacy on such a stage. Other artists are producing that work; but, this one is being paid attention to.
When the idea for the movie was put out, Standing Bear and the tribe council had numerous reservations. I questioned Mr. Scorsese early on, ‘How are you going to handle the story?’ ‘I’m going to tell the narrative of trust, trust between Mollie and Ernest, trust between the outside world and the Osage, and the violation of those trusts, a grave betrayal,’ he said. My people experienced severe suffering, and the ramifications are being felt now. But I can speak for the Osage people when I say that Marty Scorsese and his crew have earned back our confidence, and we are certain that it won’t be violated.
Additionally, he commended the filmmaker for using so much Osage language in the movie and for utilising Osage people as extras and crew members. “Our language is dying,” he said. He then acknowledged De Niro and said, “You speak Osage better than some of our Osage.”
While DiCaprio, Scorsese, and De Niro emphasised how crucial it was to share this narrative with the world, Standing Bear acknowledged that the experience had also been a revelation for his people. “We saw how diligent and serious these performers were. Although we have the misconception that when Bob De Niro gets up, everything immediately spills out, these are really diligent individuals.
The Los Angeles Times’ cultural critic and columnist Mary McNamara. After serving for 12 years as a television critic and senior cultural editor, she formerly held the position of assistant managing editor for arts and entertainment. She was a nominee for the 2013 and 2014 Pulitzer Prize for critique and has garnered several accolades for both feature and critique writing. She wrote the Hollywood mysteries “Oscar Season” and “The Starlet.” Along with her husband, three kids, and two dogs, she lives in La Crescenta.