Spoiler Alert: This post contains significant details about the ending of the film “Saltburn.”
In the riveting conclusion of “Saltburn” currently gracing theaters, the brilliant Oxford University student Oliver Quick, portrayed by the exceptional Barry Keoghan, masterfully orchestrates the takeover of the opulent Catton estate from the unsuspecting Catton family. This thrilling twist not only showcases Oliver’s cunning intellect but also marks the downfall of Felix Catton (played by Jacob Elordi) and his family, solidifying Oliver’s control over the multimillion-dollar property.
Oliver’s Nude Dance – A Bold Celebration of Triumph
To celebrate his newfound wealth and triumph, Oliver indulges in a solo dance party within the grand halls of the Catton mansion, in a scene that is as audacious as it is memorable. Daringly, he twirls through the empty rooms, his celebration set to the nostalgic beats of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s 2001 hit, “Murder on the Dancefloor.”
Our exclusive interview with Keoghan, Elordi, and the film’s brilliant writer/director, Emerald Fennell, delves into the unconventional ending and the bold choices that shaped this cinematic masterpiece.
Emerald Fennell on the ‘madness’ and ‘joy’ of that ‘Saltburn’ ending:
Emerald Fennell, the creative force behind “Saltburn,” originally envisioned Oliver walking naked through the house in the finale. However, during the filming process, she recognized the need to infuse the scene with a range of emotions, including joy, desecration, ownership, and solitude. Fennell explains, “It should make the audience complicit in its kind of sex appeal and madness. So I said, ‘Barry, how do you feel if it’s a naked dance?’ And he just went, ‘Yup.’”
The choice of the iconic song “Murder on the Dancefloor” serves to complement the film’s overarching theme of challenging the upper class. Despite Felix’s absence in the scene, Elordi, who plays Felix, passionately supported the selection of the track. According to Elordi, “That song is strangely cinematic. It has so much feeling.”
The dance sequence itself was a feat, requiring 11 takes to capture not only the technical challenges of moving the camera through the sprawling mansion but also for Keoghan to fully embrace the lunacy of the moment. Keoghan reflects, “At the start, I was like, ‘Let’s just get this out of the way.’ But then I was just like, ‘Let’s do it again.’ It became less about being naked, and (eventually), I actually forgot that I was.”
Jacob Elordi, Barry Keoghan say the movie’s grave scene is more ‘sexy’ than ‘weird’:
“Saltburn” is replete with shocking moments, and one that stands out is Oliver’s peculiar actions, including slurping Felix’s bathwater and feeding Felix’s sister her own menstrual blood. However, the most unsettling scene unfolds at Felix’s funeral, where Oliver, having poisoned Felix, lies on top of his grave, eventually engaging in an intimate act.
Fennell defends this scene, drawing parallels to the Gothic tradition, citing a certain Emily Brontë novel. She states, “This exact thing happens in ‘Wuthering Heights.’ Heathcliff tries to climb down into Cathy’s grave, and the subtext is very much that is what he’s intending to do. So this is very much part of the Gothic tradition.”
Elordi adds his perspective, asserting, “It’s immense grief as well. It’s almost this desperation to stop death – in a sexy way!”
Keoghan interprets Oliver’s actions as “a level up in his obsession” with Felix, underscoring the character’s profound confusion and loss.
Reflecting on the challenging grave scene, Fennell humorously remarks, “Oh, yeah. Getting out the dirt was tough! The pictures of you after that (scene) were sublime.”
“Saltburn” distinguishes itself through its audacious and thought-provoking choices, offering audiences a cinematic experience that lingers long after the credits roll. The film’s unconventional ending and provocative scenes are a testament to Fennell’s directorial prowess and the outstanding performances of Keoghan and Elordi.
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