Martin Scorsese explains how Midsommar director Ari Aster influenced his upcoming movie, Killers of the Flower Moon.

Killers of the Flower Moon, Martin Scorsese, Ari Aster

Based on David Grann’s best-selling crime thriller, Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon tells the real-life mystery of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma in the 1920s, who became wealthy after oil was discovered beneath their land. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off, and the ensuing spiral of conspiracy, greed and murder got so bad that the FBI had to step in. It’s a sprawling story with a nearly three-and-a-half-hour runtime, and Martin Scorsese looked to the films of Ari Aster for influence on its pacing.

I very much like the style and pacing of good horror films like Ari Aster’s Midsommar or Beau Is Afraid,” Martin Scorsese told The Irish Times. “The pacing of those films goes back to the B films of Val Lewton, Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People or I Walked With a Zombie. Just going a little slower. A little quieter. I was very concerned about allowing scenes that were not narrative into the story, scenes to do with the Osage culture — leaving in those scenes of custom, like the baby namings, the funerals and the weddings — so we could begin to understand a little more about the people. I felt confident that a lot of people would allow themselves to be immersed in the world of the film. One has to take these chances. At this age, what else can I do?

Martin Scorsese has sung the praises of Ari Aster before, saying that the young director is “One of the most extraordinary new voices in cinema.”

Martin Scorsese spent two years working on the script for Killers of the Flower Moon with co-writer Eric Roth, which was initially set to feature Leonardo DiCaprio playing the FBI agent who investigates the murders. However, DiCaprio made a note that set them in a different direction. “Myself and [my co-screenwriter] Eric Roth talked about telling the story from the point of view of the bureau agents coming in to investigate,” Scorsese said. “After two years of working on the script, Leo came to me and asked, ‘Where is the heart of this story?’ I had had meetings and dinners with the Osage, and I thought, Well, there’s the story. The real story, we felt, was not necessarily coming from the outside, with the bureau, but rather from the inside, from Oklahoma.

At the turn of the 20th century, oil brought a fortune to the Osage Nation, who became some of the richest people in the world overnight,” reads the official synopsis. “The wealth of these Native Americans immediately attracted white interlopers, who manipulated, extorted, and stole as much Osage money as they could before resorting to murder. Based on a true story and told through the improbable romance of Ernest Burkhart and Mollie Kyle, Killers of the Flower Moon is an epic western crime saga, where real love crosses paths with unspeakable betrayal.

Killers of the Flower Moon will debut in theaters on October 20th, so be sure to check out a review from our own Chris Bumbray right here.

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