Terry Notary portrays the ape-man "Oleg" in the film. The Russian artist Oleg Kulik was invited to the international group exhibition "Interpol" at Färgfabriken, Stockholm, Sweden. At the opening, the vernissage, Kulik performed like a dog. He glittered, jumped up, rolled and even bit the VIP crowd in their legs. Kulik said he acted as a representative of the browbeaten Russian people, who now attacked and bit back. The crowd became so scared and enraged that they called for the police. In this movie, there is a similar, charged and offensive scene, but here the performance artist acts like an ape.
The crowd Oleg was taunting in the dinner scene, throwing water over and pushing around, were in fact drawn from the actual ranks of Sweden's 1 percent, including some of the country's wealthiest art patrons ("They were so into it," Terry Notary said).
"I never want to have any in-between scenes that are only there to tell the plot. If I have these scenes I think I've failed a little bit as a director." Ruben Östlund explained that his mission is to make movies full of interesting, stand-alone scenes that highlight human behavior.
The voice warns that the animal is trained to sense weakness and fear, so the best defense is to stay very still and hope for the misfortune of others. "It's about the bystander effect. The reason we don't have the ability to take responsibility in situations like that is because we are herd animals and we get scared, and when we get scared we get paralyzed. And we're thinking, don't take me, don't take me, take someone else." said Ruben Östlund.
In one scene, a man with Tourette's syndrome yells at a reporter. Ruben Östlund said this was inspired by a true incident at a Swedish theater, and was depicted without fear of insensitivity, since he said all people are satirized in his work.
The preliminary study of "The Square" was "Rutan" (The Square), an exhibition at Vandalorum in Värnamo, Sweden, in spring 2015, where director Ruben Östlund and film producer Kalle Boman wanted to examine the trust they felt towards each other. Pictures from the exhibition are included in the film.
"These people that in the beginning were sitting in tuxedos and eating their nice, fancy dinner, I wanted them to be uncivilized animals in the end, I think that the most uncivilized thing about our time is the collective rage against individuals that are acting uncivilized. Isn't that the scary thing about us?" said Ruben Östlund about the monkey-man scene.
While "Christian" is told by the character "Michael" that he is thinking and acting in a manner "too Swedish" the irony is that the actor Claes Bang is a Dane and speaks Danish through the entire film.
For the general release of the film, Ruben Östlund cut 2 minutes and 43 seconds from the final quarter of the film (as presented at Cannes) to sharpen the last 30 minutes saying, "I sped it up a little."
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
If you look carefully about ten minutes into the movie, you can actually see the hand of the woman Christian is trying to shield from her assumed follower reaching into Christian's pocket for his phone.
In the film there is an ape seemingly busy creating art. This refers to an old practical joke. An alleged self-taught French avant-garde artist, Pierre Brassau, appeared at an art exhibition in Gothenburg in 1964. A series of art connoisseurs were tricked by this intentional experiment. It was the chimpanzee Peter from Borås Zoo that had created the "spontanist painting", and the brain behind it was a gallerist and a journalist who were reported to be a police officer for fraud.