Saltburn’s Opening Scene Song Subtly Foreshadows The Film’s Biggest Twist

Summary

  • Saltburn’s opening scene misleads the audience into thinking it’s a love story, but it’s actually a suspenseful psychological drama filled with shocking twists and turns.
  • The song playing in the opening scene of Saltburn subtly foreshadows the ending, with a changed lyric hinting at Oliver’s eventual victory and becoming the “King” of the Saltburn estate.
  • Oliver’s initial speech in the first scene makes him seem like the good guy, but it turns out he is hiding his true nature, which leads to unexpected and violent events in Saltburn.


WARNING! This article contains major spoilers for Saltburn!

There are many hidden details in Saltburn, and its song in the opening scene subtly foreshadows the film’s biggest twist. Saltburn is Emerald Fennell’s second directorial effort after Promising Young Woman, and it’s filled with suspense, shocking scenes that bring out many uncomfortable emotions, and many hidden details that only prove that the movie was hiding its biggest reveals in plain sight. One such example appears right from the first moments of the psychological drama, and Saltburn‘s opening scene and song foreshadow the film’s biggest twist.

Saltburn follows Oliver, an outcast Oxford student who starts an unlikely friendship with one of the university’s most popular students, the charming and rich Felix. After Felix takes him under his wing and invites Oliver over to his family’s estate called Saltburn, the awkward misfit goes through a massive change where his true nature is revealed, which leads to many unexpected twists and turns, and violent deaths in Saltburn. Although some of Oliver’s actions prove to be shocking and out of the blue considering who he seemed at the beginning of the film, Saltburn was very upfront about who he ended up being from the first scenes.

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Saltburn’s First Scene Was Deceiving, Just Like The Rest Of The Film

The movie’s opening scene suggests a different kind of genre

Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi) smiling while looking over his shoulder in front of his family's estate in Saltburn.

Saltburn begins with Oliver talking about Felix and how much he loved him. The first scene introduces a montage of different videos of Felix, proving how charming he was, and, given how Oliver spoke about him, it makes the audience believe the film is completely different from what it really is. Based on the first two minutes, Saltburn seems to be a love story or a story about heartbreak, since Oliver’s words don’t hint at a happy ending for the two, the only thing that is real about their relationship.

On top of that, Oliver’s initial speech led the viewers to believe he was the good guy. Oliver admitted that he loved Felix, but he wasn’t in love with him. It also made it look like Felix’s popularity became too much for him, and that it became exhausting. Oliver claimed that he protected and understood Felix and that he was honest with him, but all of that was a lie, as the viewers would later come to find out. Later, the montage switches to new scenes hinting at Oliver’s apparent heartbreak. However, the same scene also foreshadows the thing Oliver truly loved: the Saltburn estate.

The Opening Scene Song Foreshadows The Ending

The subtle change proves his victory

Following Oliver’s speech about Felix, the film cuts to the title montage, and the song foreshadows Saltburn‘s ending. As Oliver arrives at Oxford for the first time, “Zadok the Priest” is playing loudly, which is a coronation anthem. However, one detail was changed about the song, as director Fennell revealed (via Twitter): instead of singing “Zadok the Priest” when the opening credit appears on the screen, the lyrics were changed to “Oliver Quick, long live the King!” This tiny but important change in the opening scene foreshadows Oliver Quick’s end and victory in Saltburn, where he becomes the new “King” of the Saltburn estate.

Saltburn 2023 Movie Poster

Saltburn

Written and directed by Emerald Fennell, Saltburn is a 2023 comedy-thriller film. When Oxford student Oliver Quick is invited to his friend Felix’s family’s wealthy estate, Saltburn, for a summer vacation, he is drawn into the world of eccentric characters and increasingly chaotic events as his obsession with Felix comes to a head.

Release Date
November 17, 2023

Director
Emerald Fennell

Rating
R

Runtime
131 Minutes