The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The Super Success of “Saltburn”

“Saltburn” (2023) is a refreshing new film directed by Emerald Fennell with cinematography by Linus Sandgren, prevailing over some disappointing and underperforming releases such as Tina Fey’s “Mean Girls” adaptation and Paul King’s “Wonka” prequel. 


The film takes place mainly at a mansion owned by the Catton family, with the property name being aptly referenced in the title—Saltburn—and is to die for, literally. 


A stunning color palette integrated into each scene significantly appeals to the eye, including the signature deep blood red featured in the promotional poster. The film juxtaposes various beautiful scenes from golden, sunbathed outdoor events such as tanning or tennis, or dark and brooding indoor situations like tense dinners and embarrassing karaoke. 


If the film wasn’t aesthetically pleasing enough, the soundtrack is equally beautiful, with hits like “Time to Pretend” by MGMT and “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. “Saltburn” also featured the timeless, popular British alternative pop song “Murder on the Dancefloor,” a 2001 single released by Sophie Ellis-Bextor. The playlist captures the obscure, elaborate, and surreal effect of the film. 


The film follows main character Oliver, nicknamed Ollie, played by Barry Keoghan. Spoiler alert: the film opens on Keoghan in a basic, vague room. Without context Keoghan’s opening speech sounds like a confession, as if he is being interviewed by the police. We learn in the end that Keoghan’s character is talking to Elspeth Catton, played by Rosamund Pike, and that he is confessing his crimes to her before he murders her. 


Saltburn’s” mythological references were also genius. During the second half of the movie, the family decides to throw a costume party inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ollie’s friend and Elspeth’s son, Felix, wears golden angel wings, similar to those of Icarus. In Greek mythology, Icarus was trapped in a labyrinth before escaping with his father on wax-glued wings, which melted when he flew close to the sun and made him crash to his death in the ocean.The reference appears to warn against pride and the carelessness of youth. 


In the movie, Felix is popular and parties often. Although not intended to be harmful, Felix is prideful of his large house and prides himself in taking Ollie, who appears to be poor and comes from a rough home life, under his wing. But ultimately welcoming in Ollie is Felix’s downfall that leads to his death. 


“Saltburn” is evidently a dialogue-driven slow burn, so if you’re looking for lots of action choose another movie. With most of the action falling in the last quarter of the movie, suspense rises as the plot moves slowly before Ollie achieves a total kill count of three at the end. 


For those who were unsettled and possibly had to stop watching the film, good. Movies are supposed to elicit emotion from the audience, so “Saltburn” does its job in making you feel emotional.


Although disturbing, “Saltburn” is a cinematic masterpiece that reflects on greed and grief and left me saying, “I don’t know what I just watched, but it was good.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Dickinsonian strives to provide a forum for lively and respectful discussion among members of the Dickinson College community. We reserve the right to remove any comments that we do not adhere to our community standards.
All The Dickinsonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *