Whether you're watching it to solve the mystery or to enjoy the über-talented ensemble cast, Rian Johnson's Knives Out is a feast for the eyes and the brain, with a twist-driven murder-mystery that made a killing in theaters. Johnson was keen to sprinkle all kinds of clues and easter eggs throughout the film's 130-minute runtime, from the changing portrait to the baseball's arc. But for all the conversations that have taken place, there seems to be on element that no one is talking about: the lions.
Humor me here. The Knives Out production designers did a magnificent job with decorating Harlan Thrombey's mansion, and the camera is keen to focus on many of the seemingly random odds and ends. But not all of those visuals were so random to this viewer's eyes, particularly all of the lions that were on display, which is a motif that was introduced in the earliest minutes of the movie, as seen below.
So why would a lion be a Knives Out easter egg? Because, obviously, the movie is all about a bunch of family members who are always lyin'. Yes, I'm serious. If Knives Out can feature a higher-brow cinematic reference that connects Benoit Blanc to Sleuth's opening, then Rian Johnson can absolutely strike a balance by including an easy-to-bypass pun such as lion/lyin'.
Granted, if that was the only time any lion imagery was shown in Knives Out, I wouldn't be wasting your time. However, the first half of the movie is filled with lions. Other than Harlan's books, I'd dare say lions make up one of the only visual elements that appears in such varied forms, and seemingly always in connection with the many characters who are always defiling the truth.
During the interrogation scenes in the first act, when each of the Thrombey children and/or their spouses is introduced, they're sitting with a lion statue roaring just to their right. The big cat is just constantly watching, happy that its manufactured nostrils can't smell all the bullshit piling up in that room.
It's been previously noted that having the always-ish honest Marta sit in front of the hole in the chair of knives is a possible callback to Blanc's baffling donut hole speech. But the fact that everyone else is framed sitting beside the lion, while it's nothing but a background blur during her questioning, has gotten less notice.
Even as Toni Collette's Joni Thrombey thought she was free from suspicion by getting a break during the police questioning, viewers continued to be aware that she certainly wasn't the sibling most capable of unadulterated honesty.
Yet another sub-prominent placement for a lion is in one of the main common rooms, where everyone got ripped and Walt and Richard almost threw down. It should surprise no one by now to see it, since all of the big liars are on display and showing their true colors all over the place. It's a wonder Harlan hadn't tried to exit that family before then.
I'm also halfway convinced that one of the table statues is of a female lion, or possibly a "mountain lion," as it were, but I'm not entirely sure. Even if it isn't, though, there are more than enough lions elsewhere to fully justify it as a Knives Out easter egg in my book.
The images above definitely aren't the only times these (and possibly other) lions appear in Knives Out. But just about every time one is shown, the argument can be made that it's commenting on the dishonesty of the characters in its midst. You know, the ones who should be PUN-ished the hardest.
What do you guys think about the lion easter eggs? Let us know in the poll below, and no lyin'!
While waiting to see what becomes of the upcoming sequel, fans can pick up Knives Out on Blu-ray and DVD, as well as renting or purchasing the film from Amazon and all the other usual digital platforms. And hey, the Blu-ray case actually gives away the main villain.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.