Taking a gamble - Martin Scorsese and Lily Gladstone meet the media at the Cannes Film Festival Photo: Richard Mowe
The veteran Martin Scorsese was the modest recipient of praise from all sides at his media gathering at the Cannes Film Festival today for his latest opus Killers Of The Flower Moon, flanked by Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro, as well as Osage Nation chief Geoffrey Standing Bear.
Scorsese, who was last in Cannes with Robert De Niro for the Palme d’Or winning Taxi Driver in 1976, said that he was only able to make the current film after spending time with the Osage tribal leaders whose forebears were exploited for their oil rich lands.
Robert De Niro: “Evil is all around.” Photo: Richard Mowe
“I wanted to know everything I could find out about the Osage. I knew when I heard what their values are about love, respect, and loving the earth — and I’m not talking about making this into a political issue; I’m talking about really how to live on this planet — it reoriented me every time I heard it,” said Scorsese. "The original source material was the 2017 novel by David Grann, which reveals how the recently formed FBI investigated the killings.”
DiCaprio said that both Scorsese and De Niro had been big influences on his career. “Watching the two of them from a cinematic point off view influenced everything I do as an actor. They changed the template for me and an entire generation of actors that I grew up with.
“What I admired in this film was his perseverance about wanting to tell the truth about these stories. Marty was there every day talking to the community, and we incorporated the truth as best we could to pay respect.”
De Niro, who can be taciturn at the best of times, claimed he did not completely understand his character, William Hale. “He has to be charming to win people over but I have no idea why he betrays them. The venality of evil is the thing we have to watch out for.”
The actor, who has no time for the former US president and potential election candidate next year, discreetly did not mention his name, but said that evil was all around. “We see it today, and you know who I am talking about. But I am not going to say his name. That guy is stupid.”
Scorsese added mischievously: “I mean look at Trump - are they serious?” he laughed conspiratorially as De Niro’s diplomacy was blown.
Leonardo Di Caprio on DeNiro and Scorsese:"They changed the template for me and an entire generation of actors that I grew up with.” Photo: Richard Mowe
Chief Standing Bear said he had asked the director how he was going to approach the project. He pledged that the story was about trust and the deep betrayal of that trust. “The Osage people suffered deeply and Marty and his team have restored trust and we know that trust will not be betrayed.”
Lily Gladstone, who has Blackfeet and Nimíipuu heritage, was relieved that the truth of the Osage situation finally was being told. “My character was strong and resolute and also possessed a sense of humour.” In the film she plays Mollie, the wife of DiCaprio’s character, Ernest Burkhart.
Filming was interrupted and delayed by Covid. The tribal health clinic carried out vaccinations for the cast and crew. Scorsese estimates he lost a year of shooting before he was able to resume.
Killers Of The Flower Moon (showing Out of Competition) is his first new film to premiere in the Cannes official selection since After Hours in 1986. This darkly comic nocturnal New York escapade won Scorsese Best Director. Scorsese has often attended Cannes and was president of the jury in 1998. He also has chaired the Cinéfondation jury in 2002.
Scorsese, aged 80, was asked what drove him to keep taking risks and confronting challenges. “What else can I do?” he smiles. “It was a big gamble but I took a chance.”