Disturbing true story behind Leonardo DiCaprio's new movie Killers of the Flower Moon
| Last updated
Martin Scorsese's upcoming release Killers of the Flower Moon starring Leonardo DiCaprio has a dark true story behind it.
Killers of the Flower Moon has a stellar cast including the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Brendan Fraser, Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro - and of course, it's been directed by none other than Martin Scorsese.
However, scrap the names attached to the film, because it's the actual historical events and real lives it's based on which truly matter - a period which became known as the 'Reign of Terror'.
The synopsis of a non-fiction book published in 2017 of the same name - of which the film is based on - states: "Killers of the Flower Moon tells the story of the brutal murders behind white settlers’ attempted dispossession of an Osage family’s Oklahoma lands, under which lay some of the world’s most valuable oil fields.
"That this conspiracy of theft, terror, and genocide helped launch J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI deepens the narrative’s moral complexity."
However, what happened not in the book, or in the upcoming film, but in real life?
Between the 1910s to 1930s, a series of murders of Osage Native Americans took place in Osage County, Oklahoma.
At least 60 healthy people were found dead 'all dealing with Osage headright holders' as per the Osage Nation Government page, and the investigations into the deaths remained unsolved.
However, it was later suspected other suspicious deaths during the same period - dubbed the 'Reign of Terror' from 1921-26 - could have been covered up - the people behind them likely having been motivated by the land and wealth of some Osage members.
According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, in the 20s, some Osage members became incredibly wealthy after oil was found underneath their land.
In Scorsese's upcoming release, DiCaprio takes on the role of Ernest Burkhart - who was encouraged by his cattleman uncle William K. Hale (Robert De Niro) to get married to a member of the Osage named Mollie (Lily Gladstone).
In real life, Burkhart and Mollie lived with Mollie's mother, Lizzie Q.
One of Lizzie's other daughters was found dead in May 1921, having been shot in the back of the head. Despite the bullet wound, the case was unsolved as a result of the mum-of-four having no known enemies.
The same happened when Lizzie died, despite her dying from suspected poisoning.
More members of Lizzie and Mollie's family turned up dead, yet Mollie survived - her and Burkhart inheriting a fortune.
Burkhart and his uncle, Hale, were arrested in 1926, on suspicion of Hale having intimated and bribed people to carry out the killings.
Three years later, Hale was convicted, but of only one murder.
It was discovered Hale and Burkhart had already begun poisoning Mollie when they were arrested. Thankfully, Mollie recovered.
Mollie's family is an example of what happened to multiple Osage families during the 'Reign of Terror'.
Many actors involved in the making of the film have acknowledged the great significance of the events it's based upon.
Taking to Instagram, Lily Gladstone wrote: "I consider it a true gift and great responsibility to be trusted with Mollie Burkhart, and will hold her preciously with both arms, close to my heart.
"My most profound thanks to Osage Nation, it is a remarkable gift to be welcomed by you, and to be able to tell this story."
Killers of the Flower Moon is currently set to be released by Apple TV+ - a release date hasn't yet been publicly announced.