How Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery Perfectly Embodies Symbolism and Allusion in Film

How Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery Perfectly Embodies Symbolism and Allusion in Film

Quinn Kauffman, Staff Writer

Mystery/thriller movie Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, sequel to Knives Out, stars Daniel Craig, Leslie Odom Jr, Edward Norton, along with many other widely known actors and actresses. The film follows recurring world famous detective Benoit Blanc as he takes his next case in Greece, which entails murder, secrets, envelopes, and even a reference to Tom Cruise. Spoiler warning – the whole underlying lesson of this movie is that things aren’t always as complicated as they seem; in fact, they are often so simple that it takes everyone by surprise. 

This movie is different from others in many ways; its plot doesn’t follow the typical beginning middle end, its cast is full of people that have all made movies now considered classics, etc. But the most peculiar thing about Glass Onion is that it spoils itself from the beginning, giving the plot throughout specific details that most wouldn’t find suspicious. Using the motif of the movie that things are often hidden in plain sight, the title, the music used, dialogue, even the scenes we are shown directly out in the open give hints of the ending. Firstly, the metaphor of the glass onion, the name of a bar and a part of Miles’ mansion in the movie, is a recurring theme. Everyone knows that onions have many layers, and they often have to be peeled back to find the center. In a glass onion however, the layers are an illusion. You don’t have to peel them back, you just have to look into the center and you can see right through it. Already, the title tells us that this movie is not as complicated as it seems. 

In terms of the music, nothing is hidden either. There are some simple songs like ‘Starman’ by David Bowie, played when a momentous idea is formed, paralleling the meaning of the song; salvation from another. But the other two that are used, ‘Glass Onion’ and ‘Blackbird’ by The Beatles, are much more important. The name of the 1986 song ‘Glass Onion’ was a joke from member Paul Mcartney, intended to poke fun at the fans that too deeply theorized about their song’s lyrics. A glass onion, uncomplicated and over complexified. Additionally, the song ‘Blackbird’ symbolized the racial prejudices in America at the time. Mcartney stated, “This was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith; there is hope.” This is the foreshadowing of Miles Bron, a white man, taking away from Andi’s, a black woman, success and getting credit for her idea along with financial compensation as well.

And finally, simply the words in the movie give away an underlying fact. Miles Bron gives many speeches or attempted heartfelt conversations in the movie, but even what he says gives his character away. He frequently uses wrong words, or even made up ones, illustrating that he is indeed, not as smart as he seems. Bron gives a speech about success, that to succeed at disruption, you must break something that people wanted broken and people will get excited. You must keep going and “break the system itself”, and at that point, no one will be on your side. This parallels the ‘revenge’ aspect of the movie, when Janelle Monae’s character starts breaking Miles’ simple glass sculptures, obviously worth almost nothing to the billionaire. All of his friends got excited as they were angry with him anyway, and wanted revenge. Andi doesn’t stop and Miles’ friends start to stop her, as they only wanted to break what they were tired of, directly mirroring Miles’ previous speech. They are not on her side anymore, and now she stands alone, just as Miles foreshadows earlier.