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The Student News Site of Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School

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The Student News Site of Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School

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Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage and the Jews



    What do Jews and Native Americans have in common? Both nations faced (and still do) constant persecution for their desire to reclaim their indigenous land and struggle with a lack of representation in contemporary media, despite their vast history and culture. In 2023, award winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese released his latest film Killers of the Flower Moon, an epic chronicling the Native Osage’s discovery of oil, their intermarriage with white people and their eventual slaughter due to greed and hatred by white opportunists. The movie received positive reviews claiming the film, despite being made by a non-Native American, had accurate and inspiring representation. It featured tribal music performed by Osage singers, a language coach that made sure the Osage language featured in the film was accurate, and tour-de-force Lily Gladstone- an up-and-coming Native American actor predicted for an Oscar win. These components make a truly original film in terms of representation, especially of Native Americans, a minority that rarely gets accurate depiction.  


Sound familiar? 

    A trend currently in Hollywood biopics on Jews (ex. Oppenheimer, featuring a cast of non-Jewish actors playing Jewish characters) is to cast non-Jews as the leading part, recently causing minor controversy with the Netflix film Maestro, a biography on Jewish composer Leonard Bernstein, starring Bradley Cooper. Some Jews criticized the fact that Cooper, a non-Jew will portray Bernstein, as well as the fact that he donned a prosthetic “Jewish” nose. Others believe that prosthetics have nothing to do with racial stereotyping but are only a physical characteristic of Bernstein himself. A minority that barely gets representation on top of that now receives the Netflix treatment, erasing the ethnic Jewish presence from the project, as a majority of the cast is non-Jewish. Films like Killers of the Flower Moon are paving the way for authenticity, with a non-minority filmmaker showing genuine interest in a group of people and going out of their way to have them portrayed accurately on screen. The question of Maestro will remain until November 22nd, when it will be released in a limited theatrical run and December 20th when it will be released on Netflix.  


Below is a list of films with excellent Jewish representation (either created by, starring Jews or both)* To be Updated!!*


  1. A Serious Man (2009)  Made by the unapologetically Jewish Coen brothers, the film takes a more pessimistic outlook on Jewish-American life. Taking place in the 1960’s, the film follows physics professor Larry Gopnik and his dysfunctional family, as well as an accurate and startling portrait of Jewish communities of the time, derived from the childhoods of both Joel and Ethan Coen. As far as representation goes, the Jewishness of the film and its characters’ is very overt: a bar mitzvah is a focal event of the plot, three rabbis are key characters, and a majority of the cast is Jewish. 
  1. 2. Full Court Miracle (2003) In contemporary society, Christmas movies have become a genre, while Chanukah movies are scarce, especially in America. As lightweight and warm-hearted as any Hallmark holiday film, Disney’s Full Court Miracle delivers proper representation in harmless wholesomeness, while still managing to apply the Jewish values in the film to the universality of the athletic world. The film follows a Jewish basketball team taken under the wing of a former college sports star. Despite their differences, the team must dribble their way through their tournament in classic underdog fashion. 
  2. Yentl (1983) Through the years, Barbra Streisand proved herself a Jewish powerhouse, and her Academy Award-winning directorial debut is no exception. Both a Jewish and feminist film, Yentl’s namesake protagonist portrayed by Streisand disguises as a man in order to enroll in rabbinic school, things complicate when she begins to fall in love with a fellow student. This genderbending classic won Streisand a Golden Globe, making her the first woman to do so and being a Jewish woman directing and starring in a Jewish story makes it all the better.


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