July 15, 2024
Leonardo Di Caprio at the photo call of the Killers of The Flower Moon in Cannes © Rune Hellestad
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Getting to witness a Martin Scorsese premiere at Cannes, the festival that announced him as a major filmmaker in the 1970s, is a rare and coveted event. It is no wonder that the ‘Killers of The Flower Moon‘ was oversubscribed in Cannes this year; with queues of 18-hours long to get the last minute tickets.

Leonardo Di Caprio, Martin Scorcese, Robert De Niro in Cannes at the premiere of the Killers of The Flower Moon Premiere © Rune Hellestad
Leonardo Di Caprio, Martin Scorcese, Robert De Niro in Cannes at the premiere of the Killers of The Flower Moon Premiere © Rune Hellestad





the Scorsese film — based on David Grann’s nonfiction book of the same name, about a string of murders of members of the Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma known as the Reign of Terror, which became the marquee case of the newly formed FBI — was played just once for the public (unlike the rest of films that play in various screening rooms over the period of three days).

At 80, Scorsese has been reflective about mortality and how deliberate he wants to be about the movies he makes going forward. The “Killers” script went through countless revisions, he told at a cocktail party Sunday evening, morphing from a story about the FBI to a story about the Osage people standing up for themselves despite a dismaying lack of attention from the government. The Osage had been lucky enough to find oil on their land, becoming the richest people per capita in the world, but unlucky enough to become the targets of murderous White men who wanted their wealth for themselves. Had the script stayed focused on the White saviours from the FBI, Scorsese said, “I would not have made it. … I think other people know how to make that kind of film better than me. Meaning that they have a more enjoyable [time] or maybe they love it more. I don’t think it’s my forte.

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Scorsese calculates he spent five years on this project, which included script changes, DiCaprio changing roles and significant shooting delays due to the pandemic. (The original start date was supposed to be March 2020.) “I’m at an age now where everything I try, I want it to matter for me,” he said at the cocktail party. “It always did. But even more so now, because we’re just running out of time.”

De Niro, 79, said he feels the same way. “Marty, you know, he’s right,” he said at the cocktail party. “If I felt strongly about something, I would pitch it to him and try to convince him, but I know he’s at a point in his life where he has to decide what is the most important thing for him to do.”

According to Scorsese’s longtime editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, 83, who started working with him on “Raging Bull,” he talks about the ticking clock all the time. “He’s got many things in his head that he wants to do. I don’t know if we’ll live long enough to do them,” she said at the party.

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She’s also seen him paying more attention to story and emotion than filmmaking flourishes, with age. “He’s getting simpler,” she said. “He’s done all the fancy camerawork. It’s quite interesting, because he’s so famous for the shots and the way they’re cut and the movement, but now he’s making things much more simply. For example, the murders in ‘The Irishman’ and in this one are in wide shots. There’s not blood spurting out of people’s heads, you know.”

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According to De Niro, the seeds for Scorsese to do a movie like “Killers” might go back to the ’70s. The actor remembers when he and Scorsese visited Marlon Brando on his private island in French Polynesia and Brando told them about some film about Native Americans he wanted to do. “Brando had an idea about the thing — I forget what it was at that time — but Marty listened, and the way I remember it is he just felt that was too chaotic and crazy. Never gonna happen,” De Niro said. “So this is something that he finally did in a way that he could do it, the way he would feel was the proper way to do it.”

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Editor in Chief of Ikon London Magazine, journalist, film producer and founder of The DAFTA Film Awards (The DAFTAs).

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