‘The Flower Moon Killers’ and Scorsese’s girlfriend like no other | ET REALITY


In the 1920s, the richest community in the world They were the Osage Nation concentrated in northeastern Oklahoma. Thanks to the oil beneath their land, the tribesmen had a great fortune. And they were also spending it on roadsters and Parisian couture; There was a Tiffany’s counter at the local trading post.

They fused their newly acquired fashions with their tribal customs and aesthetics: They dressed traditional wool blankets with Stetson hats and Spanish-heeled cowboy boots, and added bright embroidery and plumage to the towering silk hats they wore to weddings.

That mix of styles is vividly shown in “Flower Moon Killers” Martin Scorsese’s epic set in Osage territory and scheduled for October 20. Based on the nonfiction best-seller by David Grann, the film stars Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone, a member of the Blackfeet and Nez Percé tribes, in a shocking crime. saga about the murders that plagued the tribal nation beginning in the 1920s, when the Osages’ white neighbors set out to strip them, by any means necessary, of their oil rights.

The culture shock was generations-long, said Julie O’Keefe, a tribal member and the Osages’ main costume consultant on the film. Her ancestors “were hit by what I call Kardashian money,” she said. They had economic knowledge, but until that time they barely used a currency-based system: “We negotiated for everything we needed.” The matriarch of the story, Lizzie Q, “had come off the prairie hunting buffalo.”

Led by Scorsese, the filmmakers attempted to be scrupulously authentic in the way they depicted the Osage, down to the threads of their clothing. There was plenty of documentation: The Osage were wealthy enough to sit for portraits and even make home movies, astronomically expensive at $800 a minute, said Jacqueline West, the film’s costume designer. “Few people in the world could afford it, but they documented their lives, their travels and where they lived so beautifully. I trusted them.”

The Osage always had an eye for luxury and color when it came to clothing and adornment, said Daniel C. Swan, an anthropology professor and curator emeritus at the University of Oklahoma who has written about the tribe. “If you read the accounts of encounters with them from the 16th and 17th centuries, they had that air: we would say they had real style,” he said.

In the early 20th century, the Osages were as fashionable as the editors of Vogue. “They had incredibly sophisticated palettes,” Swan said. “They wore the best French, Italian and New York fashion; “They kept up with the hairstyles and the shoes.” But perhaps the best example of its sartorial splendor and culture can be seen at weddings.

The wedding scene in “Killers of the Flower Moon” is spectacular, with Mollie Kyle, the bride played by Gladstone, and her sister bridesmaids in richly embroidered skirts, finger-knit belts and custom-made military coats, complete with with brass buttons and braided epaulettes. . The look is completed with towering 18-inch hats decorated with French ribbon and adorned with cyan or magenta-dyed feathers. It feels fantastic and is absolutely real.

“When I saw the photographs of the wedding dresses, of course I had to include them,” Scorsese said.

Coats came to the Osage world intertwined with American history. In the early 19th century, Osage leaders visited President Thomas Jefferson at the White House. It was part of an effort by the U.S. government to ingratiate itself with tribes along the path that explorers Lewis and Clark would travel, and leaders were greeted with military displays that showed off the military might of the new country. The story goes that an Osage chief was enthralled with the coats worn by his Washington, D.C. counterparts, so he was given one as a gift. It didn’t fit her (the Osage were exceptionally tall) and she passed it on to his daughter, who wore it at her wedding, a tradition that persisted for more than a century. (Top hats had a similar lineage: from infantry officer hats to party hats.)

When refashioning wartime attire for a bride, “there’s something wonderfully rebellious about it,” West said. It’s a subversion of the dynamic Jefferson wanted to show: the Osage turned “something that represented power over them into something that represented joy.” They even made their own versions of the coats when the originals wore out.

“The United States government gave these coats to all the different tribes,” Swan said. But only the Osage transformed them into wedding finery.

Swan, author, with Jim Cooley, of “Wedding Wear and the Osage Community” organized a complementary exhibition at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman, Oklahoma, which Scorsese’s team visited early in the film’s development. “As soon as they saw those wedding suits, they said, ‘He’s going to love this! You can bet there’s going to be a wedding in this movie,’” recalled Swan, who was also a resource for the film.

“The question is always: what do the clothes mean to the characters?” Scorsese wrote in an email. “They look extravagant, but they were worn with pride and joy – they still are.”

West, the costume designer, was inspired by vintage pieces, including traditional garments that the descendants of the real-life characters had stored in trunks. To the extent possible, he commissioned copies from Osage craftsmen.

With multiple crowd scenes, O’Keefe, who lives in Tulsa, called every Osage maker he knew. “Everyone in the community made moccasins for this,” he said. The local nurse who gave him the Covid injection ended up working with tapes on two blankets. West’s 10-person wardrobe team took over and learned to finger knit at lightning speed. Typically tied over the back of a chair, a belt traditionally takes months to complete.

An Osage wedding was unlike any other indigenous ceremony: a large, multi-day event steeped in their culture of giving. “I was taught from a young age that being Osage means sharing, fellowship and caring for each other,” said Shannon Shaw Duty, editor of Osage News, the tribal newspaper. “An Osage shows his wealth not by how much money he has, but by how much he gives.”

For weddings a century ago, Swan said, “they gave away 50 or 60 head of horses and fed 400 or 500 people for a week.” In a 1932 story, In Hominy, Oklahoma, the bride’s father bought five new Chevrolet roadsters and gave them away, Swan added. He “said he spent about $50,000 on that wedding,” more than $1 million in today’s dollars.

That level of festivity was usually reserved for the eldest sons or daughters of a family, during the era of arranged marriages, and was limited primarily to full-blooded Osages, such as Mollie Kyle. Such festivities would have been unlikely for an Osage woman marrying a white man, as she does in the film, Swan noted, but that was Scorsese’s creative license.

“We had many, many long discussions about this with members of the community,” Scorsese said. “In the end, we all felt strongly that the wedding clothing was so identifiable as Osage that we had to include it.”

The scene is a moment of levity in an otherwise heartbreaking story. In his book, Grann writes that there were probably many, many more deaths than the 24 that the FBI came to solve.

O’Keefe grew up in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, the capital of the Osage lands. “Everyone has a connection to the story,” he said. “There is no district that does not do it, because all of us within our communities lost someone, our family members, due to strange circumstances.”

Bridal coats are an emblem of that era that has been rewoven again and again; After World War II, they were worn at the traditional Osage summer community dance, rather than at weddings. It’s a rare and vivid example of a historical garment achieving cultural longevity, Swan said, while also being “represented.”

At a recent dance, there were six or eight “bridesmaids,” O’Keefe said, “dressed in all these different wedding coats and hats, which were given to the families.”

Each woman can only go out once with a coat. In a dance that has barely changed for more than a century, it is a deeply symbolic moment, Shaw Duty said. “People will always remember who wore them, who made them,” she said. “It’s all our little Osage world, what happens here, and it fills us with happiness.”

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