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Students talk 'Saltburn': Thoughts on the unconventional film

The recent movie may be disturbing, but it speaks volumes to the issues of a generation and is a fresh take on class struggle


"It was an enjoyable watch, and turns your brain mostly off, very engaging, and the cinematography was visually appealing."

The bathtub scene, the graveyard scene, and of course, the iconic "Murder on the Dancefloor" closing song. If there’s a movie that people are talking about, it’s "Saltburn". But as the film, available to stream on Prime Video, gains notoriety for these scandalous scenes, the question becomes why people are watching it in the first place.

"I heard a lot about the movie on TikTok, Instagram and (from) my friends," said Sophia Navarrete, a freshman studying education. The iconic comedy drama thriller has taken over social media platforms based on its intense yet captivating scenes.

"The movie will leave you shocked, disturbed and definitely a little puzzled," Navarrete said.

"Saltburn" is about two Oxford students in the 2000s. The main character Oliver Quick (played by Barry Keoghan) develops an obsession and desire with the rich and popular Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi). The movie revolves around their relationship and how extreme wanting and envy can lead someone to do terrible things.

What makes the movie so enticing is its extreme portrayal of how much one would do to gain someone's approval. "In a twisted way, it was about love and the lengths someone will go to for love," Navarrete said. 

For Shefali Saxena, a junior studying political science and a member of the student film club Scriptless, the movie reflects on a fascination with someone else’s life and not the person themselves. 

"I saw it a bit more as 'I wasn't in love with him, I loved him,'" Saxena said. "Oliver's character wanted (Felix's) life, especially with the girls."

For other viewers, the intrigue of the film comes from the theme of class difference.

"From the middle class, which is Oliver's character, to the lavish top 1%, you don't even think about how (the movie) affects the lower class," said Aaron Ott, a senior studying supply management and also a member of Scriptless. "Like how the Barbie movie didn’t go into the depths of feminism but it was present."

"(It) keeps you thinking about the middle class to high upper class difference in the real world," Saxena said. 

While the movie has its dramatic scenes to portray a variety of themes, it all comes back to the same question of whether or not the movie is enjoyable for viewers.

"I really liked it," Ott said. "It was an enjoyable watch, and turns your brain mostly off, very engaging, and the cinematography was visually appealing." 

The cinematography of the film stood out in part because, unlike many other movies, "Saltburn" was shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio.

"I did like it," Navarrete said. "I really liked the cinematography of the different shots and the way they transitioned from shot to shot."

Besides class difference and love, the movie encapsulates themes that today's young adult generation struggles with, from queer identities with Oliver and Felix’s relationship to issues such as eating disorders.

"I heard this quote before, but this movie was for the girls, the gays and the theys," Ott said, referencing the audience that was more receptive of the movie.

"The psychological interest within the symbolism of the movie is also something to look out for," Saxena said.

The viewers also discussed the improvisation in "Saltburn", as some of the vulgar scenes were not originally in the script. 

"I know the actors worked really close with the directors and thought it would be more impactful to fully undress on the graveyard scene," Ott said. 

"Saltburn" is a complex film that explores deep topics. It’s about love, wealth and personal issues. It’s also about passion and obsession.

But whatever it is about, the movie is a testament to what great combinations of actors and cinematography bring together on screen. "It’s going to be talked about for years," Ott said.

"Give it a shot, no matter what you've heard," Saxena said. "I got all the spoilers, and I still was surprised." 

Edited by Sophia Braccio, Sadie Buggle and Caera Learmonth.

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