Parasite. A South-Korean film written and directed by the brilliant Bong Joon-ho, which has just won four Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film. Becoming the first Non-English film to ever win Best Picture and making this year’s Oscars one for the history books.
In his acceptance speech for Best Director, Bong thanked and honored the other directors nominated for the category, particularly Martin Scorsese. “When I was young and starting in cinema there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart which is, “The most personal is the most creative,” Bong said. “That quote was from our great Martin Scorsese.” This resulted in the crowd giving a standing ovation for Scorsese. Bong also thanked Quentin Tarantino for always putting his films on his lists before his work was ever majorly recognized. Bong ended his speech saying “If the Academy allows, I would like to get a Texas chainsaw, split the Academy Award into five, and share it with all of you.”
Parasite has also won multiple prestigious awards previous to the Oscars, including a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and the Palme d’OR at the Cannes Film Festival which is the highest prize awarded at the festival.
Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is not his first film to gain popularity, other notable films from his catalogue, are the widely known Snowpiercer, Okja, The Host, Mother and Memories of Murder. Yet, this is Bong’s first film to ever strike a chord with film audiences from all over the world, the first to ever receive this many awards and to set so many records. And as we dive deep into the themes that this film tackles, we begin to understand why it resonated with so many people despite the language barrier, and why the movie’s success entails change in the movie industry.
Parasite is a comedy thriller but at its core it is a story about classes, a story about the disparity between the rich and poor, represented by two families, the Parks and the Kims. One family incredibly rich whilst the latter is barely surviving. Right from the start, when the movie opens with the Kim’s family in their infested basement apartment, where they opt to not close their windows during a city-wide fumigation in favor of getting free extermination. The opening scene alone sets the tone for the desperation and the means which a poor family will go to in order to survive.
The movie initially starts off as a comedy, when an opportunity falls in Ki-woo’s lap, the son in Kim’s family, to take over English tutoring from an old friend to a rich family, the Parks, so with a forged diploma and degree, he applies for the job and is immediately hired. Slowly throughout the movie, the Kim’s family begins to infiltrate the Parks’ home, getting hired for different jobs at the Parks’ household, all without the Parks’ knowledge that they are related. And as the movie progresses each scheme to get a different family member hired is more ridiculous and ambitious than the former and you can’t help but laugh at the at the Parks’ gullibility.
However, then comes the halfway point into the movie, and everything turned on its head, with a shift in tone and story that is brilliant. The movie uncovers secrets that shines a light on the sad reality that is the unequal socioeconomic distribution present in every society around the world. The commentary on society is driven through plot, writing, cinematography, metaphors, visuals and the musical score, which are executed with brilliance and subtlety that allows the audience to come to these conclusions all on their own.
All in all, Parasite is a movie that will stand the test of time with movie audiences all over the world, not just because of its brilliant execution but also because most people can identify with the message and the topics that Bong Joon-ho discusses in his film.
Parasite’s success is telling of where Hollywood and the film industry will go to in the future, Parasite does not only open the gates for more South-Korean movies to succeed in Hollywood, it also sets precedent for foreign films from all around the world, to hopefully be able to gain the recognition and accolades they deserve among western Hollywood movies. That foreign films will not be set aside for only “Foreign feature film” nominations, but will also be recognized in main categories. Parasite’s winning streak all the way to the Oscars, hopefully will only be the start of the western movie industry recognizing foreign films.
Bong Joon-Ho’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes shares the sentiment, as he addresses Hollywood saying “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”