Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” opens with an Osage pipe ceremony ahead of showcasing the first discovery of oil on Osage land.
It’s a relatively small and contained scene, but Scorsese and co-writer Eric Roth have revealed their initial plans for the sequence were much bigger – an extended single-take sequence portraying the Oklahoma Land Rush.
The film overall explores how white men systematically worked to try and strip the Osage community of their wealth and unfolds mostly in the 1920s – decades after the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889
At the time, the federal government opened up millions of acres of land in what was formerly Indian Territory with an estimated 50,000 settlers rushing across the border, determined to claim their own slice of it. Speaking with EW, the pair explained how they intended to portray that with Scorsese saying:
“It was five pages or so, and it would have taken three weeks to shoot, even with CGI. The idea would be that it was the Land Rush, and you pull back and see the Native Americans just watching. I thought it was a perfect metaphor for what we’ve done. But Eric pointed out that there was so much distance from the Oklahoma Land Rush and the discovery of oil in the late 1890s, and it was too far from this story. But I loved all the detail he put in. It was all going to be done in one take, too.”
Roth adds he “must have written 60 little vignettes of furniture falling off wagons or fights breaking out.” Scorsese adds: “It was incredible, and everybody loved it… But ultimately, we found it was too distant from the actual story.”
“Killers of the Flower Moon” is still currently playing in cinemas.