Why Martin Scorsese Finds the Rain Scene in ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Visually Captivating:
Lily Gladstone, the Oscar-nominated actress from “Killers of the Flower Moon,” exudes a quiet yet compelling strength in her portrayal of Mollie Kyle, a real-life Osage woman grappling with tragedy in 1920s Oklahoma. In Martin Scorsese’s historical drama, Gladstone’s serene presence takes center stage in a poignant early scene, where her character engages in a pivotal conversation with her suitor, Ernest Burkhart (played by Leonardo DiCaprio).
Seated at her dining room table, Mollie and Ernest navigate discussions about family and religion, with Mollie keenly assessing whether Ernest’s intentions are genuine or driven solely by her wealth. The scene is a masterful display of Gladstone’s talent, anchoring the film with her composed demeanor. As the characters prepare to open a bottle of whiskey, the atmosphere shifts dramatically with the onset of thunder and rain. In response, Mollie, with a calm authority, suggests they remain silent for a while, urging Ernest to set aside the liquor. “Just be still,” she instructs, a moment that captures the depth of Mollie’s resilience and the subtle power of Gladstone’s performance.
This poignant moment in “Killers of the Flower Moon” is both simple and powerful. As the couple shares a wordless gaze, both within and beyond the window, the scene captures a profound connection before the narrative’s tragedies and betrayals unfold.
Lily Gladstone, reflecting on the scene, emphasizes the significance of finding comfort in stillness. In her own words, she remarks, “It’s that idea of just learning to be comfortable with the stillness.” This moment transcends the complexities of the plot, showcasing a genuine, human connection between the characters.
Gladstone suggests a broader lesson from the scene, expressing the need for everyone to take a moment to slow down and appreciate the blessings within the stillness, as symbolized by the calming presence of rain. In her perspective, rain becomes a metaphorical reminder to pause, reflect, and find solace in the simplicity of quiet moments.
An Exemplary Instance of Osage Voices Shaping the Narrative
Scorsese Relied on Osage Consultants: A Pivotal Scene Altered by Authentic Voices”
Throughout the production of the film, Martin Scorsese sought guidance from Osage consultants, a decision that proved crucial in shaping a particular exchange in the narrative.
Lily Gladstone, reflecting on a pivotal scene, underscores the transformative impact of incorporating Osage voices into the storytelling process. She states, “That scene is a perfect example of how Osage voices changed the story.”
Originally, the scene carried a humorous tone, with Mollie drinking Ernest under the table. However, after consulting with the Osage community, it became evident that this portrayal was inconsistent with Mollie’s character. Gladstone explains that considering her sister Anna’s struggle with alcoholism, Mollie “wouldn’t have been that kind of drinker.” The adjustment showcases the importance of authenticity and sensitivity in portraying cultural nuances, a result of the collaboration between the filmmakers and the Osage community.
Incorporating Osage Input: A Collaborative Effort Reshaping Narrative Elements
During a meeting with the Osage Nation, concerns were raised by community members regarding the portrayal of Mollie’s drinking in the film’s script. Wilson Pipestem, a lawyer, played a pivotal role in reshaping the scene by sharing a poignant memory about his Grandma Rose.
Recalling his initial apprehensions, Martin Scorsese notes, “When I first met him, he was very nervous about all this.” Pipestem emphasized the importance of understanding the Osage perspective, sharing a personal anecdote: “When there was a storm, my grandmother would say you can’t run around and do anything. Sit and let the power of the storm pass over you because it’s a gift. And that’s the kind of people we are.” Struck by the beauty of this insight, Scorsese incorporated it into the film.
The director’s decision to listen to Osage voices and integrate their cultural wisdom not only addressed concerns raised during the community meeting but also enriched the film with an authentic and profound perspective. This collaborative effort underscores the significance of respecting and incorporating diverse voices in the storytelling process.
For Lily Gladstone, Wilson Pipestem’s grandmother served as “one of my bigger access points to understanding Osage women of the era.” Drawing parallels between Mollie and Pipestem’s grandmother, Gladstone elaborates, “Rose would put her blanket on and just listen to the storm with her hands upturned, receiving everything it was bringing,” much like Mollie in that moment.
This connection to Pipestem’s grandmother provided Gladstone with valuable insights into the experiences and perspectives of Osage women during that era. By immersing herself in such cultural contexts, Gladstone deepened her understanding of the character she portrayed, allowing for a more authentic and nuanced performance.
The Profound Significance of Rain in Osage Culture
Killers of the Flower Moon” received an impressive 10 Oscar nominations, spanning categories such as best picture, best director (for Martin Scorsese), and best actress, a historic achievement for Lily Gladstone as the first Native American to be recognized in this category. The true-crime epic made its debut at the rain-soaked Cannes Film Festival in France last May and experienced a similarly drenched New York premiere in September. The film’s critical acclaim and groundbreaking recognition underscore its impact on both cinematic achievements and diversity in the industry.
According to Lily Gladstone, the lead actress in the film, “Every time this film has premiered when there have been Osage in attendance, it’s rained. And that’s a good sign.” Recounting a conversation with Alaina Maker, an Osage costumer on the project, Gladstone shares that Maker’s father conveyed the sentiment, “when it rains, it’s almost like you’re born new every time; you’re never the same person after a rainstorm. Rain has a really big significance for Osage people.” This insight highlights the cultural significance of rain for the Osage community and how its presence during the film premieres is perceived as a positive and transformative symbol.