Czech glass makes a smash in ‘Glass Onion’; “It broke my heart,” says Prague artisan

Netflix’s Glass Onion has become one of the most talked-about movies of the holiday season since debuting over Christmas, and the movie has a significant Czech connection: the ornate glass sculptures that make a literal smash in the film’s climactic sequence all came from a Czech glass studio, designed by Jiří Pačinek from Prague-based studio Pačinek Glass.

Dozens of luxurious glass sculptures are thrown to the ground and shatter into thousands of pieces during Glass Onion’s emotional climax. Janelle Monáe kicks off the glass-breaking fireworks, but most of the supporting characters also join in on the fun.

But not all viewers found Glass Onion’s climax smashing fun.

“It broke my heart, because I know what effort and work [the creation of the sculptures] cost,” Pačinek confided to Novinky.cz after watching the destruction of his artwork in the climactic scenes of the movie.

Apparently, the producers of Glass Onion found Pačinek Glass through a simple Google search: they were the first result for “Czech glass.” An assistant to art director John Dexter, whose previous credits include Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and The Last Jedi, originally reached out to the Prague-based company.

Jessica Henwick and the Czech glass sculptures made by Jiří Pačinek in Glass Onion

“According to what she said, Pačinek Glass was the first studio they found,” the company’s  manager David Sobotka told CzechCrunch. “She called me one morning in July and asked if we could create glass decorations for the film shoot. I said yes. After that, a very fast sequence of events followed, which led to the entire unique project.”

Dexter himself traveled to Prague to personally watch Jiří Pačinek create a prototype sculpture for the film based on visualizations provided by the filmmakers. Pleased with his work, Glass Onion producers ordered 20 original sculptures for the film. And then 25 more, and an additional 15. Ultimately, Pačinek Glass created 60 unique pieces for use in Glass Onion.

Each sculpture was completely unique, and hand-blown. The heaviest among them weighed 30 kilograms. They were created in record time, with Pačinek and his team given just a month to complete the job.

“Five or six guys worked on it, over the weekends as well, we worked continuously as long as the furnaces allowed us to do so,” Pačinek recalled. “First, we promised to deliver, and second, it was for good money during the time of covid, when we needed every dime. That order helped us survive at that time.”

The artist didn’t know of writer-director Rian Johnson’s plans for his artwork, i.e., to completely destroy them, until the movie began filming.

Daniel Craig amid Czech glass sculptures made by Jiří Pačinek in Glass Onion

“They only told me this during production, but I didn’t believe it until the last moment. So much work and so much money…” he said.

“But when the filmmakers saw the first batch of twenty pieces, they reportedly liked them so much that they decided to make resin copies of some of them. They didn’t want to destroy all the statues […] The original plan was to smash all the statues in the movie, but in the end they realized that would be a big shame.”

Despite Glass Onion’s shattering climax, only about 40 percent of Pačinek’s sculptures were destroyed during filming. The artist hopes to be able to exhibit the surviving pieces in the future.

“I would like to have an exhibition in America next year,” he notes. “We agreed with John Dexter to follow up on the film and try to make a joint exhibition with other Czech glassmakers. It might not work out, but it would be nice.”

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