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True horror – “Killers of the Flower Moon” 4K Ultra HD

Updated: Feb 13


4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR SCREENSHOTS

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as World War I veteran Ernest Burkhart and Lily Gladstone stars as his wife Mollie Burkhart. Both actors are nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Actress. Mollie, her sisters, and her mother are distressed by the death of her young sister Minne (Jillian Dion). She died of a “wasting illness,” a slow form of poisoning.



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“KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON”

 

4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray; 2023; R for violence and profanity

 

Best extra: Brief interview with writer/producer/director Martin Scorsese

 












IN A WEIRD turn of events, Italy is the only country worldwide licensed to create and sell a physical disc release of Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

 

Who would have guessed?

 

It’s the second time a major Academy Award-nominated film has been earmarked for a digital Apple+ exclusive. We’re not sure why or how it happened, but independent distributor Eagle Pictures, based in Rome, got the rights to release Best Picture winner “Coda” on a 4K disc in 2022, and now the much-anticipated hit, “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Too bad for home viewers and collectors who don’t subscribe to Apple+.

 

It must have been part of the deal that this new 4K disc has been coded to only play on Region B 4K/Blu-ray players, even though the 4K UHD format was set up to be a Region-free system. The Italian “Coda” disc played perfectly on U.S. 4K players, but this time viewers will get a nasty “Disc Error – Incorrect Region Code” from the “Flower Moon” disc. The enclosed Blu-ray is also a Region B code, which is normal with many European discs. 

 

This will not be a problem for folks who have a Region Free 4K/Blu-ray player setup to spin Region B discs. I’ve always had a backup 4K/Blu-ray player dialed for Region B, especially with over a hundred European Blu-rays in my collection.  



(1&2) The Osage Nation moved from Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas and settled in the Oklahoma Territory after purchasing land from the Cherokee Nation in 1872. In the 1890s large volumes of oil were found and in 1907 the Osage reached a deal that enabled them to retain communal mineral rights. (3-6) After WWI Ernest Burkhart arrives in Fairfax, Okla. The ride to his uncle William “King” Hale’s cattle ranch passed hundreds of oil rigs. His uncle (Robert DeNiro) gives Ernest an introduction to the way of life in Osage County.





 

EXTRAS

The enclosed Blu-ray has three brief interviews with script writer/producer/director Scorsese and co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone, plus five brief featurettes detailing how they captured the Osage language, and “Shared Vision,” a conversation between Scorsese and Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear of the Osage Nation.

 

During his interview, Scorsese says the heart of the film is the love story between Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his wife Mollie played by Lily Gladstone, a daughter of the Piegan Blackfeet Nation. Gladstone is a front-runner to win the Oscar for Best Actress, one of 10 nominations for the film that also include Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. Mollie’s experiences are “the core of the story,” says the director. “I picked this up while with the Osage people, despite what happened.”

 

The story takes place in the middle of the “reign of terror,” a series of murders in the 1920s – at least 60 Osage men and women murdered – “by every possible mean, from shootings to gradual poisoning and bombings to bilk them out of their wealth.” For five decades starting in 1901, the tribe received mineral rights payments of nearly $300 million – in today’s dollars $4 billion – for the discovery of oil on their land, which they purchased from the Cherokee Nation in 1872.  

 

Robert DeNiro plays William “King” Hale, the mastermind behind the killings of Osage oil heiress Mollie Burkhart and her two sisters Anna (Cara Jade Myers) and Minnie (Jillian Dion). Gladstone says that Hale was a “de facto father figure” to Ernest and planted the idea when the WWI veteran married an Osage woman, telling him, “There’s good money in that.”  She also explains how the film “reopened fresh wounds that hadn’t fully closed.” Hale was arrested by the newly formed Bureau of Investigation, (now the FBI), after the tribal elders went to Washington D.C. looking for help.  

 

Originally, Scorsese and co-writer Eric Roth focused the storyline on the birth of the FBI, an element of David Grann’s 2017 bestseller. DiCaprio was to play the lead FBI agent, which eventually became Jesse Plemons' role. But during COVID-19, Scorsese realized the true story came from inside the Osage Nation and the relationship between Ernest and Mollie.  




(1&2) Dozens of mysterious deaths hit the oil-rich Osage Nation. (3-5) Ernest becomes a driver for his uncle and picks up Mollie in town. The two fall in love and have a traditional Osage marriage ceremony.





 

VIDEO

First off, “Flower Moon” is a striking TRUE 4K mastered presentation, and possibly an early contender for one of the Best 4K discs of 2024. Captured on anamorphic Panavision lenses, the master was sourced from an old school 35mm camera negative (1.33:1 aspect ratio in recreating newsreel footage, with the majority in super widescreen 2.39:1). Film grain is well resolved with plenty of natural structure from start to finish. Onscreen clarity, especially the wide-angle shots, is crisp and detailed from the background to the foreground. Mexican Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (“The Irishman,” “Silence,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Barbie”) is also up for an Oscar.

 

The Dolby Vision and HDR10 provide excellent highlights and deep dark shadows. Meanwhile, the expanded color spectrum is natural and slightly desaturated with its multicultural cast. The exteriors of this modern western are breathtaking and include hundreds of digitally rendered oil drilling rigs dotting the landscape captured mostly in Osage County, Oklahoma, where the murders occurred. Peak brightness hits 1000 nits, averaging 163 nits with video output running from the upper 20 Megabits per second to nearly 70 Mbps, averaging in the low 50 Mbps range, encoded onto a 100 GB disc to handle the three-hour and 26-minute run time.

 

Honestly, it was difficult to watch “Flower Moon” at the multiplex without an intermission/ bathroom break. Thank goodness, with the disc, the film has several natural breaks that fade to black to create your own intermission. Still, it’s a kick in the pants since the studio has made it so difficult to view at home in the U.S., its country of origin.




The “Reign of Terror” continues





 

AUDIO

The eight-channel Dolby Atmos soundtrack featured on Apple+ is MIA on this disc, although it features an excellent six-channel uncompressed DTS-HD track, which my Denon receiver reprocessed sending effects and music cues to the height speakers. It’s not perfect, but still very powerful with its wide frequency response.

 

The Oscar-nominated score is by Scorsese’s longtime collaborator, the late Robbie Robertson. Scorsese’s documentary, “The Last Waltz” (1978), of Robertson’s last concert with his Rock ‘n’ Roll group The Band, is considered one of the best live concerts ever captured on film. Here, the dialogue is front and center with layering environmental sound effects – rain, thunder, insects, and gun blasts – filling the theater room with Robertson’s haunting rhythmic sound of acoustic and electric guitars, strings, harmonica, and drums. Robertson, himself of First Nations’ descent, was raised on a reserve in Ontario, Canada. He visited the Oklahoma set for inspiration.  

 

FINAL THOUGHTS 

“Flower Moon” is one of Scorsese’s best, clearly in the top 10 of his filmography. It deserves a worldwide physical 4K disc release. We’re not sure if Paramount Studios, co-producers of the film, will release a physical 4K disc or not. Apple+ doesn’t provide discs for its content. Right now, you can buy a digital copy via your favorite digital platform or watch via your Apple+ subscription. Unfortunately, the digital version can’t match a physical copy for video output and audio, and can remain a part of your library.

 

WARNING: Digital copies have been known to disappear from personal digital collections.

 

– Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch




Mollie fears for her life






 



The Bureau of Investigation arrives




 



English menu screen and the 4K disc features perfect-sized English subtitles during the Osage language.


 




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