killers of the flower moon is a fantastic film. i really loved it. it is classic scorsese exploring the effects of power and money and the evil that unfolds masquaerading as an angel of light when there is unflinching alleigance to those gods/goals. it is based around a true story told in a book of the same name by david grann. set in the 1920s in oklahoma, on a first nations reservation of the osage tribe. their reservation has oil so they find themselves very wealthy. but of course the racism of white settlers is not far below the veneer of pleasantness. and spearheaded by william hale, played by de niro, and suported by his rather naive nephew ernest burkhart (di caprio), the plot is how they use whatever means necessary to get their hands on the indians wealth. i won't spoil the plot for you by unpacking further but it includes the vices of lies, murder, poison, marrying to get access to money and an ever escalating web of deception. when we first meet di caprio in the film he says 'i love money' - which of course is famously said to be the root of all evil (the bible) and that is pretty much how it goes.
it was wonderful seeing so many osage actors in the film and getting a bit of a window into their tribe. you get a sense of their values of community, tradition, love of the creator and the natural world. in a painful opening scene they bury a peace pipe - a parable for their traditions being buried. i have been reading quite a bit about first nations spirituality in the last year and my interest was further piqued on manatoulin island in canada recently where there are 9 reserves. i think that indigenous/aboriginal/native worldviews and spirituality have so much to teach westerners especially because of connection to the land.
what is so painful in the film is that by contrast christianity is the religion which william hale espouses. he quotes the bible and hides behind a veneer of niceness - like many mafia bosses presenting as a hero of the community and a good prayerful man. this is a con of course - it's not christianity. it's the religion of empire. the lord prayed to is a tribal god, on the side of white supremacy and the evil embodied in it. it's an idol and idols demand sacrifices and many are made. it's disturbing how the language of religion is presented as christianity. of course that's no different to the sopranos or other gangster films. and it doesn't take much of a leap to think about evangelicals and trump supporters or whatever other links ups there are between faith and dominating powers. i can't help thinking about global captalism and its empire, and the ruses of the super rich who present as pleasant while i suspect all the while sacrificing the planet and who knows what else in pursuit of money and power on the altar the the very same gods. (there is a different tone in the catholic priest who seems to have something more authentic especially when he speaks with molly, an osage woman).
as a follower of christ i always wince when i bump into these kinds of (his)stories. it is a reminder of the importance of deconstructing the association between faith and empire, exploring what it means to follow in the way of christ in a post colonial world. christ of course was himself executed by the powers of religion and state so perhaps it should be no surprise.
anyway you should go see it!
as an aside finally after getting on for 20 years the cinema that was in ealing broadway is now re-opened as an 8 screen picture house. having had no cinemas close by we now have that one, ealing project and actone - we are spoiled!