Saltburn, the latest film by Emerald Fennell, has sparked a wide range of reactions on social media and gathered no shortage of praise from film critics. It was at the Telluride Film Festival in August 2023 that the film first premiered. In November, a full theatrical release followed.
Saltburn has had no shortage of praise from film critics. And it’s also dominated conversations on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Reddit. The movie’s controversial themes and thought-provoking plot have sparked lively debates and discussions among fans, who expressed a wide array of reactions. From affection to disgust, Saltburn hit every movie fan differently.
It’s been an impressive year of cinema, and Saltburn has managed to carve out its own niche, becoming one of the year’s most talked-about films. So what more is there to say about this incredibly memorable film?
FanBolt recently had the honor of attending a CCA press conference for the film out in Los Angeles and noted a few interesting facts about the movie. From the film’s genesis to its unique filming techniques, here are five fun facts that offer a deeper understanding of Saltburn.
Where was the genesis of Saltburn?
It came about seven years ago. And it just came from Oliver, who appeared to writer/director Emerald Fennell as an imaginary friend. He told her that she wasn’t in love with him, and then he licked the bottom of a bathtub.
It was during COVID that she finished writing the project, which seems fitting to Fennell.
“I think it makes sense that I finished writing this during COVID. Because it feels to me like a movie about what happens when you can’t touch the thing you want to touch, and you can only look, and how insane the deprivation of human contact is,” Fennell said.
How Did Barry Keoghan Get Cast as Oliver?
Barry Keoghan met with Fennell, and it was an instant no-brainer for him. In a recent press conference for the film, he described it as, “an actor’s dream, that role, the range of emotions and the story gets to go true.”
How did he prepare? Keoghan had five notebooks and labeled them each as different Oliver’s. He felt that Oliver had a different personality for everyone and a different approach to everyone. So on days when he had challenging scenes, he would turn to those notebooks.
Why was Saltburn Set in 2007?
The film is mostly set in the summer of 2007. And Fennell remembers it well as it was exactly 15 years before the summer they filmed it.
“Exactly 15 years before the time you’re living in is always super lame,” Fennell said. “And so there was something like incredibly humanizing, I think, about taking these very beautiful people and giving them Livestrong bracelets and terrible extensions and or four tattoos. And it’s a timeless…”
“The world of the country house and the world of Oxford or any of these campus universities are timeless,” she continued. “It’s useful, I think, to show that everyone is still living in their own time. It’s harder to do with the world we live in because we’re less aware of the trends or we’re susceptible to all of that thing.”
“And also just because of the Gothic framing narrative, these movies, these books always have the narrator looking back over the time their life was frozen. So it always needed to be set in the recent past,” she concluded.
One might think that this time period makes a lot of sense as well, as it’s before social media was really at the height of where it is now. However, Fennell revealed that was actually a big factor for her.
“Now, in hindsight, I’m delighted because obviously, otherwise, it would just be a movie with people sitting on their phones,” Fennell said. “Which it might be quite good, I don’t know. But yeah, we made it much better, I think. But at Saltburn, they don’t have reception. They don’t even need the Internet. They have a person.”
Why Is Saltburn Filmed in 1.33 Aspect Ratio?
Saltburn‘s cinematographer, Linus Sandgren, described aspect ratio as a wonderful tool to illustrate an expressive image. He compared the film to German expressionistic movies and silent films, which were also filmed in the same aspect ratio.
“It reminds me more of paintings and the way we could compose things. There was also a part of it that Emerald felt like it should feel like we’re looking into this looking glass, sort of into this doll house,” Sandgren said.
“This doll house, being the manor, also had very square, tall rooms with high ceilings, which wouldn’t be possible to see in a more widescreen format,” he added. “So, that was part of it, too. The combination of things that made us feel like we wanted to do it. And once we started composing in that format, we all fell in love with it.”
Why Did Emerald Fennell want to make Saltburn?
Fennell aimed to make people feel how she used to feel when she watched The Dreamers or Cruel Intentions. She wanted to explore the feeling of something being pleasurable, even if that pleasure is complicated or sticky.
“I wanted to make something that felt timeless and a love story and not a love story,” Fennell said. “I don’t know, I think it’s a film that if I was 17 at school, I would have watched 30,000 times on DVD.”
Eager for more Saltburn? I can’t blame you. Be sure to check out our Behind-the-Scenes article with production designer Suzie Davies, composer Anthony Willis, costumer Sophie Canale, cinematographer Linus Sandgren, and hair and makeup designer Siân Miller.
Saltburn is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. (Just don’t watch it with your family on Christmas, trust me.)