Killers of the Flower Moon: The Ominous Ending and Its Historical Resonance


"Killers of the Flower Moon," directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese, unfolds a gripping narrative that delves into a dark chapter of American history – the Osage Murders. This heart-wrenching tale not only offers a historical account of corruption, murder, and societal hatred but also portrays the poignant and impactful ending that leaves audiences with much to ponder.

Title - Killers of the Flower Moon - Paramount Pictures

In this article, we will focus on the climactic jail scene and Ernest Burkhart's testimony. Martin Scorsese's unique insights into this climax shed light on the complex character dynamics and the ultimate significance of the "Killers of the Flower Moon" ending.

The Jail Scene and Ernest Burkhart's Testimony

As the film inches towards its conclusion, a high-stakes moment unfolds within the walls of a jail. Ernest Burkhart, portrayed brilliantly by Leonardo DiCaprio, finds himself at a crossroads. This scene marks the culmination of his internal struggle, his loyalty to family, and the moral dilemma that has haunted him throughout the story.

Martin Scorsese, in an interview with IndieWire, peels back the layers of this critical scene. He reveals the intricacies of the encounter between Ernest and his uncle, William King Hale, played by the iconic Robert De Niro. Scorsese's insights into their confrontation provide valuable context to the viewer.

The director initially pondered the conventional showdown between a hero and a villain but realized that "Killers of the Flower Moon" demanded something more profound. As Scorsese eloquently puts it, "It’s beyond hitting. It’s about power." This is the crux of the jail scene, where power, betrayal, and the harsh reality of the characters' choices intersect.

Ernest's decision to testify against his uncle is akin to a breakup, a divorce from the life he has known. It's a poignant moment where familial ties are strained, and personal redemption hangs in the balance. Burkhart is forced to confront his own culpability and choose between self-preservation and justice.

The jail scene encapsulates the core themes of the film: there are no clear heroes or villains in this narrative, only complex, morally ambiguous characters dealing with the consequences of their actions. The choice to testify represents the weight of their decisions and the unrelenting pursuit of truth.

Ernest Burkhart's Lack of Redemption

Ernest Burkhart, is a character defined by moral complexities and the struggle to navigate the treacherous waters of his choices. As we delve deeper into his character arc, it becomes evident that redemption is a rare and elusive concept in the world of "Killers of the Flower Moon."

Ernest Burkhart - Killers of the Flower Moon - Paramount Pictures
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

Ernest's journey in the film is a tumultuous one. His initial willingness to testify against his uncle, William King Hale, might seem like a path towards redemption. However, as the story unfolds, we realize that this is merely a small facet of a much larger, morally ambiguous tapestry.

The film paints a vivid picture of Ernest's internal conflict. He is willing to turn on Hale to protect himself and his family, a decision that appears to carry the seeds of redemption. Yet, true redemption proves elusive for Ernest. Despite his willingness to testify, he remains unable to fully absolve himself of his past actions.

One of the most haunting aspects of Ernest's character is his inability to reveal the full truth to his wife, Mollie, portrayed by the talented Lily Gladstone. Throughout the narrative, it is revealed that he had been poisoning her with insulin mixed with an unknown, harmful substance. Mollie's health deteriorates as a result, and it's clear that the poison had been eating away at her for years.

In the film's final moments, Mollie confronts Ernest, asking him what he had been injecting her with. The answer he provides is a heart-wrenching, "It's just insulin." This final betrayal is a pivotal moment, sealing the fate of their relationship. Mollie, unable to bear the weight of her husband's deception, decides to leave him, marking the end of their marriage and, by extension, any chance of Ernest's complete redemption.

The film doesn't offer neat resolutions or easy answers, but instead, it leaves audiences with a haunting sense of the profound consequences of actions taken.

The True Story Behind "Killers of the Flower Moon"

While "Killers of the Flower Moon" is a work of cinematic brilliance, it is also deeply rooted in historical reality. The film draws its inspiration from the chilling true story of the Osage Murders, a dark chapter in American history that has often been overlooked in official records.

Osage Culture and History Book - Killers of the Flower Moon - Paramount Pictures
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of the Osage Nation murders that occurred in the 1920s. These murders were not isolated incidents but part of a broader, sinister plot to exploit the Osage people's wealth. The Osage Nation, thanks to their control of oil production on their land, had amassed significant wealth. However, their financial affairs were controlled by guardians, a system that allowed others to manage their money.

The mastermind behind the plot to seize the Osage wealth was William King Hale, who went to great lengths to eliminate any obstacles in his path. His plan involved systematically killing members of the Osage Nation to ensure that the headrights, representing their wealth, would be inherited by him. Ernest Burkhart, Hale's nephew, was an unwitting accomplice in this scheme.

The Osage Nation and Their Wealth

While discrimination against Native people was rampant in various parts of the United States, the Osage people stood out as they enjoyed substantial wealth. This wealth, however, came with a catch – they were not given direct control of their own finances. Instead, the Osage were required to go through guardians, who managed their money. This arrangement left the Osage Nation vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation.

Osage Community - Killers of the Flower Moon - Paramount Pictures
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

Enter the enigmatic group of white men determined to exploit the Osage for their wealth. They hatched a nefarious conspiracy, aiming to eliminate Osage individuals one by one to gain control of the headrights representing their riches.

The film masterfully uncovers the layers of deception, manipulation, and betrayal that defined this tragic chapter in history. It underscores the racist practices in place during that era and the devastating consequences they had for the Osage people.

Mollie and Ernest's Relationship

Amidst the backdrop of this conspiracy, "Killers of the Flower Moon" unfolds a complex and emotionally charged relationship between two central characters – Mollie and Ernest. Mollie is a vital figure in this story. Her family's generational wealth, controlled by the guardians, makes her a target in this grand plot.

Ernest Burkhart is introduced as Mollie's husband. Their relationship, on the surface, seems to be one of mutual affection. However, the undercurrents of greed and manipulation are palpable. Ernest's journey in the film takes him from serving as a local driver to becoming an unwitting participant in the dark conspiracy orchestrated by his uncle, William King Hale.

Mollie - Killers of the Flower Moon - Paramount Pictures
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

The poisoning subplot adds layers of complexity to their relationship. Mollie's health deteriorates as she receives insulin injections mixed with an unknown substance from doctors recommended by Hale. Mollie's suspicions about this medication intensify, as she understands that anyone from outside her community could be secretly working against her.

Ernest, plagued by his own dark secrets, is unable to reveal the truth to his wife. Their relationship, built on love and secrets, reaches a breaking point when Mollie confronts him about the harmful injections. His response, "It's just insulin," is a heartbreaking betrayal, leading to Mollie's decision to leave him.

This subplot illustrates the film's adept portrayal of human relationships, where love and deception intertwine, and trust is shattered. "Killers of the Flower Moon" exposes the complexities of human nature, leaving viewers with a deep sense of empathy and understanding for its characters.

FBI Investigation and Ernest's Testimony

As the murders of the Osage Nation members sent shockwaves through the community, the FBI entered the scene, headed by Agent Tom White, portrayed by Jesse Plemons.

Agent Tom White's arrival in Osage County marks a turning point in the film. He is tasked with investigating the chilling murders that have plagued the Osage community. His pursuit of justice becomes a personal mission, with a directive from none other than J. Edgar Hoover himself.

Ernest Burkhart, who was initially willing to testify against his uncle William King Hale to protect his family, finds himself caught in the crosshairs of the FBI's investigation. As the FBI's inquiry intensifies and the net closes in on the conspirators, Ernest's decision to testify takes center stage. His testimony becomes a pivotal moment, both in the film's narrative and in the quest for justice.

The climax of the film features Ernest facing the truth about his involvement in the crimes, particularly his complicity in the murders of Osage Nation members. This realization propels him to testify against his uncle and reveal the extent of their involvement.

William King Hale's Sinister Plan

William King Hale is the mastermind behind the sinister plot that unfolds in the Osage community. His motives and the extent of his crimes form a central focus of the film.

Hale's plan is chillingly straightforward – to amass control over the Osage headrights, representing their wealth. He recruits his nephew, Ernest Burkhart, into this treacherous scheme, and the two navigate a path riddled with deception and betrayal.

What sets Hale apart is his ability to blend into the Osage community, portraying himself as a friend and ally to the people he intends to exploit. He invests in local businesses, befriends the tribal council, and gains the trust of the Osage Nation. It is this facade of friendship that allows him to operate with impunity.

As the layers of deception are peeled away, "Killers of the Flower Moon" reveals the extent of Hale's crimes. His involvement in the murders, manipulations, and ruthlessness in pursuit of wealth paint a stark picture of malevolence. The film unflinchingly exposes the darkest corners of his character.

Why the Osage Trusted Hale and Ernest

One of the central questions that the film raises is why the Osage people did not initially suspect Hale and Ernest of any wrongdoing. Hale is a master of deception. He ingratiates himself within the Osage community, building relationships and friendships. He becomes a confidant, a benefactor, and even appears to assist in investigating the murders that plague the Osage.

This facade of trustworthiness creates a veil of innocence around Hale and Ernest. Their actions fly under the radar, evading suspicion for far too long. The Osage believed in their friendship and loyalty, rendering them blind to the sinister conspiracies being hatched behind the scenes.

Fear of retaliation further discouraged the Osage from speaking out against Hale. With local law enforcement under Hale's influence, they felt powerless to challenge him openly. The Osage trusted Hale, and that trust was exploited to an alarming extent.

The film's portrayal of this trust-turned-betrayal showcases the capacity for deceit that exists within humanity. It explores the psychology of trust, the fragility of community bonds, and the chilling reality that malevolence can lurk beneath even the most seemingly benevolent exteriors.

Differences from the Book

"Killers of the Flower Moon" is a cinematic adaptation of the nonfiction book of the same name by David Grann. While the film draws heavily from the book's rich source material, it also introduces several key differences that set it apart.

One of the most significant distinctions lies in the narrative focus. The book primarily centers on FBI Agent Tom White, played by Jesse Plemons in the film. In contrast, Martin Scorsese's adaptation places more emphasis on the complex relationship between Mollie and Ernest and the impact of the conspiracy on their lives.

Additionally, the film is more straightforward in its portrayal of the guilty parties. From the outset, it is clear who is responsible for the crimes. The book, on the other hand, maintains a degree of mystery regarding the identity of the culprits, with the reveal occurring later in the narrative.

These differences in narrative focus and the approach to revealing the guilty parties contribute to the film's unique cinematic experience. It underscores the adaptability of storytelling across different mediums while maintaining the core themes of the historical events that inspired it.

Mollie's Guardianship and Its Implications

"Killers of the Flower Moon" brings to light a critical aspect of the Osage people's lives – the guardianship system. This system had profound implications for their control over wealth and personal decisions, and the film shines a spotlight on its consequences.

The guardianship system operated like a conservatorship, allowing non-Osage individuals, known as white guardians, to take control of the finances of Osage individuals declared "incompetent." The competency test, introduced by Congress in 1921, stripped many Osage of their financial autonomy, forcing them to seek approval for expenditures. This system meant that even though the Osage had wealth from the oil on their land, they couldn't freely use it.

Mollie's struggles within this guardianship system serve as a poignant example. She was depicted in the film attempting to access her own funds for crucial needs, such as her mother's medicine and traveling to Washington, D.C. to address the murders. These scenes underscore the extent of control that the guardianship held over the Osage people, limiting their autonomy and reinforcing their vulnerability.

The film portrays Mollie's legal battle to end the guardianship in 1931, a significant victory that marked a step towards regaining her independence. The guardianship system's implications on the Osage community's financial freedom and personal agency serve as a sobering backdrop to the narrative, shedding light on the injustices they endured.

Life After the Film's Events

After Ernest Burkhart's testimony, he faced a complex journey. His decision to reveal the truth and testify against his uncle William King Hale severed his relationship with Mollie. The poisonings, murders, and betrayals had left an irreparable chasm between them. Ernest's life after the events depicted in the film was marked by the weight of his actions and the consequences of his choices. His story becomes portrays the enduring impact of the crimes on the individuals involved.

Mollie's post-film life unfolded in a manner that showcased her resilience. Following her divorce from Ernest, she remarried in 1928 to John William Cobb. Her children, deeply affected by the horrors that had befallen their family, inherited her estate. The film suggests that while the Osage's oil wealth did diminish over time, the legacy of their struggles endured.

As for William King Hale, his character refused to admit any wrongdoing or show remorse. Despite multiple trials and a life sentence, he managed to secure parole in 1947 and settled in Arizona. Hale's death in 1962 marked the end of an era, but the memory of his malevolence lingered on.

"Killers of the Flower Moon" concludes by highlighting the enduring significance of the Osage tragedies. The Osage people's struggles, the crimes committed against them, and the long-reaching consequences of the guardianship system all bear witness to the injustices of history.

The Deeper Significance of the Osage Tragedies

The Osage murders weren't merely a series of crimes; they were a reflection of the deeply rooted racism and systemic injustices that plagued American society during that era. The Osage people, despite their wealth from oil reserves, faced discrimination and control over their finances through the guardianship system. This historical context amplifies the tragedy of the murders.

The film exposes the racial biases and prejudices that allowed the culprits to go unnoticed for so long. It unveils the horrors of the Reign of Terror, where the Osage people were systematically targeted and murdered for their wealth. These events serve as a reminder of the grim consequences of hatred and bigotry.

The ending of the film encapsulates the complexity of the human experience. Ernest's decision to testify against his own family member, Hale, highlights the intricate dynamics of trust and betrayal.

In its entirety, "Killers of the Flower Moon" stands as a cinematic masterpiece that immerses viewers in a world of secrets, conspiracies, and the indomitable human spirit. It offers a compelling exploration of the human capacity for both malevolence and redemption, leaving an indelible mark on those who experience its haunting tale.

Killers of the Flower Moon The Ominous Ending and Its Historical Resonance

Author: Jaimy Green

Author/Writer - Jaimy Green

Introducing Jaimy Green, the nature-loving dynamo! She's a master of the great outdoors, from hiking to hilltop conquests, and her Movies & TV shows obsession is second to none. Jaimy's life is a whirlwind of passions, and she spends every moment doing what she loves. By day, a responsible citizen, but by night, she's an Entertainment superhero!

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