By Mahima Ganguly (Kolkata, India)
A Memorable Cinematic Experience
This year, 92nd Academy Awards or OSCARS 2020 made history when a South Korean film PARASITE, despite being a foreign language film, took home four awards including the best picture and best direction award. All the rage and accolades that this film received got me intrigued to watch it after the release on 31st of January in India. It was a mind-blowing cinematic experience and completely flawless. Parasite for me turned out to be an emotional roller-coaster ride without disappointing me for even a second. I think you can’t watch this film for just once. If you want to watch it (though you must), it can now be streamed on Amazon Prime Video online platform.
Parasite (in Korean: Gisaengchoong) is directed by Bong Joon-Ho who has previously given masterpieces like Okja and Memories of Murder. It is a drama film of dark comic thriller genre with its take on social status and class discrimination. This film deals with class consciousness and showcases this theme by using metaphor, humour and symbolism. ‘Parasite’, according to the dictionary, refers to organisms living on other organisms(host) of different species deriving nourishment to live. This film highlights this theme by unfolding the relationship between the rich (Park) family and destitute (Kim) family and how they are like ‘Parasites’ of each other.
Main Cast and Supporting Cast:
The Kim family:
Mother- Jang Hye-jin as Choong-sook
Father- Kang-Ho Song as Kim Ki-taek
Daughter- Park So-dam as Ki-jung
Son- Choi Woo-shik as Ki-woo
Ki woo’s friend- Park Seo-joon as Min-hyuk
The Park family:
Mother- Cho Yeo-jeong as Yeon-kyo
Father- Lee Sun Kyun as Park Dong-ik
Daughter- Jeong Ji-so as Da-hye
Son- Jeong Hyun-joon as Da-song
Housemaid- Lee Jeong-eun as Moon-gwang
Housemaid’s husband- Park Myung-hoon as Oh Geun-sae
Previous chauffeur of Park family – Park Keun-Rok as Yoon
The German house owner- Andreas Fronk
Excellent and flawless performances have been delivered by all the actors in this film. I think my favourite character has to be Ki-jung (Park So-dam, the youngest daughter of Kim clan). Also, Oh Geun-sae, who despite having a very short role, gave phenomenally haunting performance which remains memorable for me even today. Indeed, their performances proved how passionately dedicated they are towards their craft.
Plot in Short:
The film begins by showing the poverty -stricken and unemployed Kim family, living in a semi basement apartment (Korean: banjiha) trying to make ends meet by folding pizza boxes. Ki woo’s friend Min-hyuk, gifts the Kim family a ‘scholar’s stone’ and offers Ki woo to take over as Da-hye’s (daughter of Park family) English tutor while he studies abroad. Now from here, the film appears to be simply forging university documents to appear legit in front of the Parks, but it has tons of shocking revelations waiting to stun the audience. From there, the plot progresses as to how every member of the Kim family con their way to get lucrative jobs in the Park’s house while appearing as unrelated individuals. What happens next? You surely need to watch it (probably more than once) to find out.
Direction, Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound and Editing:
Screenplay by Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won is class apart and plot progresses smoothly with both the first and the second part handled with perfection. Even the climax scene with unexpected plot twists was beautifully crafted giving shocking revelations to the audience. Parasite‘s Director of Photography (DOP) Hong Kyung Pyo, has done a fantastic job with the cinematography. Immense credit should be given to the editor Yang Jin-mo, who sensibly and sensitively edited this magical piece of art.
Sound effects and music by Jung Jae-Il, has been smartly used which adds to the thrilling experience of watching this film. The beats and music in certain scenes appropriately match the mood of the audience thus making this film a lot more delightful. The highlight of Parasite is the ‘Jessica Jingle’, which had garnered significant attention. The song played in the end during rolling credits ‘Soju One Glass’, was penned down by Bong Joon Ho himself and beautifully sung by Choi Woo-shik.
Metaphor and Symbolism:
Parasite, a black comedy, can be considered as a craft of metaphor, dark humour and symbolism with a flawless narrative style. Every scene depicted in this movie means a lot more than what meets the eye. Firstly, the title of this film ‘Parasite’ is a metaphor on both the poor and rich families. Even the poster of the film is a complete metaphor about misplaced family. From ‘scholar stone’ to ‘stairs’ to ‘smell’ and even ‘rain’, there is heavy use of metaphor. In the second half of the film, there is a reference to ‘Ram Don’ noodles. Ram Don noodles is a variation of Jjapaguri (in Korean) noodles which is a simple noodle recipe, but addition of sirloin steak makes it suitable for the theme of Parasite. Even humour has been perfectly used and there are certain scenes where you cannot help but laugh.
Awards, Nominations and Business of the Film:
The producers of Parasite are Kwak Sin-Ae and Moon Yang Kwon. This film was shot on a budget of ₩20.5 billion or (~US$11.4 million) but made a whooping business of $266 million at the Box Office. This film was premiered on 21st May at 2019 Cannes Film Festival and won the prestigious ‘Palme d’Or’ award. Parasite was also nominated for three awards at the Golden Globes. Parasite is one of the best films of this decade receiving awards and appreciation from all around the world.
Any cinema, of any language, has the power to connect with the viewer’s hearts and emotions by making them feel like a part of it and give an enriching experience. Films like Parasite honestly go beyond language as well as cultural barriers to make it relatable and preach impactful social awareness through entertainment. Cinema has the potential to teach moral lessons for us to remember for the rest of our lives. Parasite is sheer brilliance- a film we cannot forget for a very long time. Social status and class distinction are something which is not country specific but is relevant in all countries. This makes Parasite relatable to everybody from all walks of life. I think this film is a must watch for everybody besides movie fanatics. There is absolutely nothing you can complain about: there is humour, greed, jealousy, shock, love, pain, victory, suspense, happiness, anger and even hope in the end. Ending it on a positive note makes this film all the way more unforgettable.