FESTIVAL DE CANNES – Cult of appearance, unbridled materialism and patriarchy: in Without filter (Triangle of Sadness, original title) who has just won the Palme d’or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, the Swede Ruben Östlund, shatters the codes of modern society in an enjoyable satire. With the decor, in particular, a particularly mythical yacht.
In the feature film, Yaya, a supermodel and influencer obsessed with her image and her career, is offered a luxury cruise with her boyfriend, Carl, also a model. On board the boat, they rub shoulders with a gallery of wealthy characters – alcoholic Russian oligarchs, charming British retired couple who made their fortunes in the sale of anti-personnel mines and other obnoxious passengers – who harass the head of the crew with all their whims, while that the latter in turn martyrizes the small staff.
But a big storm – about which the captain of the boat does not care, a totally drunk Marxist at the crucial moment – will rock the ship and upset this balance. In a kind of titanic reversed where, this time, the weakest are not necessarily the losers, Ruben Östlund dissects the springs of class from top to bottom: the rich against the poor, but also men against women, and whites against blacks.
“This yacht is a very strong symbol”
A third of the film – divided into three parts for each major sequence in the story – therefore takes place on a tinsel yacht, the setting for a Dantesque scene during a dinner in the middle of a storm where the passengers start to vomit at the same time that the screen sways to the rhythm of the boat. And this ship is anything but a movie set.
“We shot the exteriors on the Christina O, the Onassis’ former yacht,” the filmmaker reveals in the production notes. “Which turns out to be quite amusing when you think about it, since we blow it [dans le film]. This yacht is a very strong symbol of the elite of the 60s and 70s and of the host of famous and powerful men like Churchill who spent a lot of time on board.”
The boat is actually a former Canadian Navy frigate, used during World War II in anti-submarine warfare. But in 1954, the Greek billionaire Aristotle Onassis bought it and invested more than 4 million dollars to transform it into a luxurious yacht and high tech 99 meters long. He the Baptist Christina O, in homage to his daughter.
As Ruben Östlund describes it, it then became the meeting place for “the elite of the 60s and 70s”. “Building on its reputation, the ship hosted the wedding of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly in 1956. On other days, we meet there, a cocktail in hand in swimming trunks, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom , Winston Churchill, but also Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner and even, a few years later, the Kennedy spouses”, recalls Madame Figaro. It was also on this yacht that Aristotle Onassis married Jackie Kennedy in 1968.
After the death of her father in 1975, Christina Onassis, who had inherited the yacht, sold it to the Greek government. A presidential ship, the Christina O has since been resold several times to private owners and restored for new tens of millions of dollars. “It takes 560,000 € in low season in summer and 700,000 € in winter for a week’s rental”, indicates the site Bateaux.com.
Ruben Östlund and his teams spent nine days there to film all the exterior scenes of the film that take place on the yacht. Something to add to his funny and scathing satire another symbol of the explosion of class relations.
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