Triangle of Sadness - the meaning of the series and the author's message

Author of the article: Tatiana Zhakova
Journalist, linguist, teacher of storytelling with 10 years of experience
In 2015 she created and promoted her project about Nizhny Novgorod,, after which she created a course called "Storytelling: How to Tell Your Story" based on it. Over 4,000 students have taken the course.

A linguist by education, she quickly masters new areas. Now she is actively studying screenwriting and storytelling in movies/serials, and writes about it in her project's blog.
"Triangle of Sadness" is a vivid satire, black comedy, and sarcasm on the theme of Eat the rich. This trope is getting a lot of attention in 2021-2023 - the films and series "You" - Season 4, "White Lotus", etc - bring up the theme of the irritating rich making the world around them only worse.

But while in many works this theme must still be found among the many leitmotifs, "Triangle of Sorrow" puts it at the head of the table, so to speak. Or at the head of the triangle.

In this article/video I want to emphasise the points that you may not have noticed, and that are important for the storytelling of the film. Careful, there are spoilers - but it's impossible to go on without them.

This text contains spoilers as it is aimed at readers who have already seen the film.

Trope is an artistic trope technique in storytelling. It is a combination of several factors that form a character/appearance. And this character is one we encounter in various films/books/series.

Our brains identify that there is something in common, but unless we know for sure the name of the trail and its characteristics, we are unlikely to be able to account for it

Let's start with the title and the poster. "Triangle of Sorrow" together with the photo of the ship hints us that it will be about tragic events during the cruise and they will probably be related to the Bermuda Triangle. In fact, there will be no tragedy related to this natural phenomenon, only the stupidity of the participants.
In the very first scene, we see an annoying reporter dividing brands into fun and rugged, and making male models smile according to the advertised brand. This draws attention to the problem that men in the fashion industry are paid less than women, but at the same time it can deceive the viewer - those who are not interested in the world of fashion may turn off the film without waiting for the most interesting part.
And it comes right away - the scene where young models Karl and Yaya argue over who should pay for dinner. And the conflict itself means that, of course, both of them are poor. Even though they discuss that Yaya earns more, there is still no money for either of them.

But as opinion leaders, they have a great opportunity to enjoy bartering benefits and pleasures. This apparently works the same in every country and industry. So they get on a yacht full of rich old men with their wives and mistresses (sometimes both at the same time).

And this is where the "bad rich" theme comes into play. The most striking examples are, of course, Vera, who complained in the pool that the staff were not allowed to swim and forced everyone to jump in the pool, setting off a chain of tragic events: the crew left the food in the cooking process for half an hour, during which time it spoiled, leading to poisoning of all the guests and the stopping of the yacht, making it easy prey for pirates.

Another example: a lady complaining to the drunk captain about the sails, saying they are dirty. And she doesn't hear the reply that the yacht is a motor yacht, she is so used to being dissatisfied that she does not even think about whether there is something that really bothers her.

The old man who tells everyone how he "sells shit" seems very metaphorical to us at first, but then it turns out that he really does deal in fertiliser. And, ironically, he is the one who remains the most stable when all the passengers are sent to their cabins with poisoning and diarrhoea - sometimes simultaneously - after a captain's horror with spoilt food and in a violent rocking.

This is where the moment of maximum cringe, sarcasm and toilet humour comes in. I think the "jock" scene is the most vivid in the film, its climax. It's absolutely amazingly shot - it's like you're being rocked along with the characters.

But the most important on this ship are the old men selling ammunition. They look like real god dandelions and see nothing wrong with making such products. That's pretty much one of the main ideas of the film: the rich are so bad they don't care how they make money. And when a grenade falls on board, the old woman, the owner of the production, doesn't even realise that the grenade's cheque has been torn off! She doesn't even wonder what the grenade is doing here. She is only amused that it "seems to be one of ours".
The sinking of the boat is epic - no tears and cries from Titanic. And, of course, it's clear that if it hadn't been for the whole mess at the captain's dinner, many more people would have been saved.
So what about our Carl and Yaya? They're just a bunch of people who got off the boat and are now sitting on a deserted island in shock.

Why did they manage to get out? Because they are fighters, because they are used to earning their living and taking their place, not spending "all their lives in luxury", as Vera said about herself. Like Anya Taylor Joy's character in The Menu, such people don't give their lives up to fate, they are used to solving their own problems.

And here is where the most interesting thing starts - the world is rebuilt. And the most valuable skills here are not the ability to earn money for Rolexes, but the ability to build a fire and catch dinner. Abigail, a surviving cleaning lady who quickly takes over and becomes queen, has all these skills. She builds her matriarchy, leading us to the film's next main idea: even poor people with power will abuse.

She takes Rolexes from both businessmen (the shit seller turns out to be still alive!) in return for sleeping on her boat, and literally orders Carl to follow her to her bed. And this is perhaps one of the more interesting moments: Abigail is from the Philippines, where sex tourism is very developed and common.

And if the situation were the opposite - a rich white businessman would definitely take a young beautiful Filipino girl under his "wing".
Here, incidentally, the triangle reappears - this time a love triangle, between Abigail, Carl and Yaya. This is a visual pun, although more on this technique, of course, series "1899", and more on triangles.

The open ending leaves room for fantasy. Yaya and Abigail discover the elevator and realise that they are not on a desert island, but on a luxury resort - although, in general, they could have guessed earlier, because why would there be a donkey on a desert island? And the appearance of the bag merchant at the same time as the lift makes us realise that even if Abigail kills Yaya and thus preserves her matriarchy, it's still a whitewash, and sooner or later the other "Robinsonians" will discover the truth or be discovered.
The director, by the way, says that Abigail did set the stone in motion on the right trajectory, and Yaya won't take her on as an assistant. After all, her suggestion is also the epitome of the same Eat the rich trope all over again.

After all, gender roles and class divisions are inevitable companions of our society, and they will reappear in it, even if we erase everything and start from scratch. The only question is who will rule this new world.

That's pretty much the main thing the authors of "Triangle of Sadness" want to tell us. Did you like the film? Did you get the message?