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Top 5 Satirical Films About The Rich (Including Saltburn).

Updated: Feb 9

The "Eat the Rich" brand of satire takes on a whole new meaning in Saltburn.

If you know, you know.

Whether it's poking fun at prevailing norms or ridiculing ruling elites, we love a laugh, don't we?

After toiling upwards of fifty or sixty hours a week, we want a giggle.

Let off some steam.

Rail against those who seem very far removed from our everyday struggles: the wealthy.

Satire delivers.

Satire is everywhere, from Saturday Night Live sketches, the meme you just liked on social media, to classic literature like George Orwell's Animal Farm.

What makes satire so effective is its ability to deliver a sometimes quite unpalatable message to a broad audience under the guise of just having a laugh.

It's been used in social commentary for thousands of years. The word "satire" comes from the latin word "satur," meaning "well-fed." Maybe a stretch, but that might have referred to the exaggeration used in satire for comedic effect.

The Mega Rich.

Clueless in their ivory towers about the real world,

Yet pulling strings behind the scenes,

Impacting our lives in countless ways.

Roast 'em for all they're worth!

Why do we love to watch the chronically rich fail and suffer?

In satire, the wealthy are often portrayed as horribly selfish people with vacuous lives obsessed with the superficial.

Yes, I know. Not all rich people.

Watching these characters suffer feeds into our innate craving for justice. As adults, we come to terms with the fact that life isn't fair; but wouldn't it be fun if we could have front row seats to karma in action?

Mixing genres with satire: a winning combination.

Revenge of the common folk is popular in a world where the gap between classes is widening. And to ensure we're not accused of inciting all out rebellion, what better way to deliver that than with razor-sharp satire?

Rather than relying simply on over-the-top humour or irony, satire works particularly well mixed with other genres such as mystery or thriller.

Top 5 Recent Satirical Films Lampooning the Rich.

Here are five films to comfort your tired (and secretly just a teensy-weensy bit communist-leaning) soul.

Characters in the film Saltburn stand in a group together.

Film #1 - Saltburn (2023)

A wealthy student of aristocratic lineage at Oxford befriends a working class lad on scholarship. But all is not as it seems.

Despite some now infamous squirmy bits, this is a great piece of storytelling that successfully marries elements of satire and mystery. A slow burn at first, the film takes its time to thoroughly set up the characters and scenario. This pays off big time later on when the twists start coming.

Characters in the movie Parasite try to get reception on their phones while crouched next to the toilet in their basement apartment.

Film #2 - Parasite (2019)

The Kim family struggle to make ends meet and live in less than ideal circumstances in a basement apartment. When one family member lies his way into a job as a tutor for the wealthy Park family, the other Kims soon follow, finding employment in the household using whatever means necessary.

Naturally, everything soon goes pear-shaped in ways you cannot predict.

Personally, I can't believe this came out before Covid. It's still very vivid in my mind, a testament to what a funny, grim, and powerful film it is.

Characters of the film, Triangle of Sadness, gathered on the deck of their luxury cruise ship.
Triangle of Sadness

Film #3 - Triangle of Sadness (2022)

The upper echelons of society (and an influencer plus one on a freebie) set sail on an über luxurious cruise. The film is a stinging indictment on the world as we know it (and those who helm it) but tables are turned when tragedy strikes.

There are scenes that are not for the those easily inclined to nausea. But keep in mind I watched this back-to-back with Saltburn, so didn't affect me in the slightest.

I would say this one is the most explicit in terms of message. Woody Harrelson as the Captain delivers some home-truths to his passengers when they are at their most vulnerable.

Suffice to say, it's put me off taking a cruise for life.

Characters of the film The Menu gathered around the Chef.
The Menu

Film #4 - The Menu (2022)

I can imagine the brainstorming process on this one.

Let's set a film in an exclusive yet remote restaurant run by a deranged chef with an axe to grind, then make it as harrowing as possible.

The workers versus the 1% scenario is muddied here because of the cult-like worship of the chef. Less scope for vicarious class-motivated revenge: everyone's doomed. But, still a fascinating if brutal dive into the world of high-end cuisine that borders on horror (without the jump scares).

Characters of the film, Knives Out, gathered together looking suspicious as detective Blanc tries to find the killer among them.
Knives Out

Film #5 - Knives Out & Glass Onion (2019 & 2022)

Two films for the price of one.

While Knives Out lampooned those who rely on the comfort of ancestral wealth, Glass Onion broadened the spectrum to include other vacuous billionaires (masquerading as geniuses, ring any bells?) and their various hangers-on.

Perhaps these films are less razor-sharp satire than enjoyable mystery romp in the vain of Agatha Christie. But the social commentary regarding the rich and the glib is strong in both with quirky comedic results.

Delivering the message: don't shoot the messenger.

Storytelling is a powerful tool in delivering a message. But it's not a blunt instrument to hit people over the head with.

If you have an agenda to push, being in any way obvious about that within the story framework is death.

To soften the blow, satire is the way to go.

Vive la révolution!

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