This luxury yacht was used for the filming of “Triangle of Sadness”

Arvin Kananian and Woody Harrelson in “Triangle of Sadness” | NEON

Arvin Kananian and Woody Harrelson in “Triangle of Sadness” | NEON

This story contains minor spoilers for Triangle of sadness.

The most of triangle of sadness takes place on a European cruise so expensive that only the mega-rich can afford a cabin. The Cannes Palme d’Or award-winning hit (now hitting theaters) follows model/influencer couple Carl and Yaya (Harris Dickinson and Charlbi Dean) as they are invited for free to drink and dine alongside billionaires on vacation. While the models themselves are of an elite class, able to vacation in exchange for Instagram photos, even they find themselves strangers on the ship, finding that most of the other guests have acquired their supreme wealth by exploiting the system.

Aboard a pristine ship sailing blue waters where there is nothing to do but relax, a cruise was simply the perfect setting, according to Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund, when he thought of writing and directing a film about the rich and beautiful. Especially given the prevalence of images of celebrities and influencers lounging on yachts on our feeds, the concept was always what he had in mind.

The director wanted the film to be a riotous takedown of how the wealthy wield power – similar to his past social satires, such as 2014’s force majeure dealt with self-interest on a family vacation gone wrong and 2017 The place dismantling of the art world. So not only was a cruise the perfect symbol of wealth and class – with its upper and lower decks and crew catering to the every whim of those sunbathing by the pool – it was the perfect recipe for a disaster. Whereas triangle of sadness ridicules the lack of self-awareness of travelers aboard the ship, including Russian oligarchs and British arms dealers, it’s also an instant classic to eat the rich, as a night of rough waters subjects them to a total debasement induced by seasickness and, later, an ouroboros from a shipwreck.

The inspiration for triangle of sadness comes first from Östlund’s wife, Sina Östlund, and her work as a fashion photographer. His curiosity about hierarchies in the fashion industry and hearing about his filming on yachts made him realize that he “wanted to make a film about beauty as currency, and that beauty can become a currency that can up in class society, and I was interested in putting these people on a desert island,” he says. What better way to put them there, forcing them to fend for themselves without knowing any kind of survival skills , than to sink their exclusive vessel?

As part of her research for the project, Östlund spent 10 days on a Sea Cloud sailing cruise in the Mediterranean, departing from Italy and traveling to Sardinia, Corsica and Spain. At the time of production, the intention was always to shoot as much as possible on a yacht. But Östlund did not consider filming on just any yacht. He searched for one of the most famous in history: Christine Othe nearly 100-meter vessel once owned by Aristotle and Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

“I couldn’t help myself,” says Östlund, from paying the high rental fees for the boat for nine days. “Onassis was the richest person in the world in the 70s, and on Christine O was basically where the Western elite congregated. Churchill, Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Maria Callas – basically everyone who was superstars at the time spent time on this yacht. So when we started researching and looking for the yacht [to use]I couldn’t help but think it’s symbolic value and how fun it would be to blow it up in the air.”

charlbi dean and harris dickinson in triangle of sadness
Charlbi Dean and Harris Dickinson | NEON

Even before the yacht exploded after a pirate attack, triangle of sadness it’s like watching capitalism capsize in real time. It constantly works the class dynamic between the crew and the wealthy guests, but it’s one scene in particular – actually inspired by an Italian buffet that was served on the Östlund cruise set in preparation by bad time and made passengers seasick – when the veneer of luxury is stripped away, turning austere guests into projectile-vomiting, diarrheal sacks of flesh.

During the night of the captain’s dinner, the Marxist captain (Woody Harrelson) refuses to pilot the ship as it sails through rough seas, making guests very sick. To capture the crazy effect when the camera itself sways from side to side, the director and his collaborator/set designer Josefin Åsberg chose to build a set. “I asked him, ‘Do you think it’s possible to build a full dining room of a luxury yacht in a studio apartment on a gimbal that we can swing so much that the furniture starts to slide?'” remembers Ostlund. “And she’s a completely crazy person, so she said, ‘Yeah, let’s do this!'”

The space’s plush, regal carpet, nautical accents, grand piano, and white tablecloths in the dining room all complement the Christine Ois great inside. “Sometimes when you start a project like this, you think, No, I was really crazy when I had the idea” he said, “But if you start looking at the details that are built into this set, it was so beautifully done.” That is, until everything was soaked in vomit and toilet feces exploding, as the captain would rather get into a drunken match between socialism and capitalism with a Russian “shit-dealer” (Zlatko Buric) than commandeer the ship to safety.

Before the passengers’ multi-course dinner is vomited, the meal of oysters, octopus, jelly and more is as integral to the atmosphere of the cruise as the dining room itself. “We had a good Michelin chef who cooked the food for us,” says Östlund. “So we said, ‘Okay, we want you to do the dishes in a way that would be, What would be the most horrible dish if it came on a plate in front of you and you were sitting there and you were seasick?‘ And he was like, ‘Okay, now I know who the target is. No problem!'”

Östlund made sure the dishes looked more questionable than edible, unlike the captain’s proletariat-approved burger and fries, because he doesn’t like fine dining. “I always feel that as soon as you walk into these Michelin restaurants, the absurdity of every dish kicks in,” he says. Coincidentally, Östlund was able to consult with her casting director who happens to be a regular at fine dining, as her husband runs a Michelin-starred establishment in Stockholm. “She told me it’s very often that they have to clean the toilets because people throw up,” he says, “people throw up because there’s so much food.”

yacht sadness triangle, russian oligarch sadness triangle
Zlatko Buric and Carolina Gynning | NEON

Along with detailing the ship’s food, its navigation path (and where guests end up shipwrecked) has been carefully considered. Not only did a luxury yacht in the Mediterranean feel classier than an American cruise from Florida in the Caribbean, Östlund says he wanted to look beyond our typical ideas of tropical desert islands to find out where the few people who managed to leave the boat found themselves stranded. . On the advice of one of the film’s Greek producers, they looked at Chiliadou, a beach on the Greek island of Euboea.

“The beach is so beautiful and we loved the environment, this spectacular setting, but we had a problem,” says Östlund. “There are nudist anarchists hanging out on this beach… How do you convince the anarchists to let them get away from the beach and let us film there?” With a few persuasive arguments (“We’re comrades! An ally!”), the crew gained access to the scenic, rocky location that looks like what the wealthy would otherwise do in helicopters and vacations, if they didn’t. were not shipwrecked.

In addition to bringing his daughters to the Christine O and watching them order rounds of iced teas, one of Östlund’s favorite memories filming on the yacht was seeing Sunnyi Melles and Alicia Eriksson act out the moment when Melles’ wife of a Russian oligarch asks a member crew to enjoy the fully clothed Jacuzzi, and, possibly, for all personnel to descend the slide. (The slide actually belongs to the Christine O. “Seems like that’s what the rich want to do when they go on a cruise: they want to go tobogganing!” says Östlund.)

“When I did some research, something that was interesting was that it turned out that it wasn’t that unusual that [guests] ask the crew to go swimming,” he says. “I thought that was a very interesting aspect of abuse of power – instead of pushing someone down, thinking, I offer you something nice. When you look at power structures, we often describe the nice part of power is controlling others, but I think a very nice part of power is being generous.”

This twisted generosity is certainly a punchline of triangle of sadness, who himself is never generous to his mostly ultra-privileged characters. In the film, their wealth was always doomed to sink.

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Sadie Bell is Thrillist’s associate cultural editor. She is on Twitter and Instagram.

Elisha A. Tilghman