Parasite (2019 film)

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Parasite
The Official Poster of Parasite.
South Korean theatrical release poster
Hangul기생충
Hanja寄生蟲
Revised RomanizationGisaengchung
McCune–ReischauerKisaengch'ung
Directed byBong Joon-ho
Produced by
  • Kwak Sin-ae
  • Moon Yang-kwon
  • Bong Joon-ho
  • Jang Young-hwan
Screenplay by
Story byBong Joon-ho[1]
Starring
Music byJung Jae-il[1]
CinematographyHong Kyung-pyo[2]
Edited byYang Jin-mo
Production
company
Barunson E&A[1]
Distributed by
Release date
  • 21 May 2019 (2019-05-21) (Cannes)
  • 30 May 2019 (2019-05-30) (South Korea)
Running time
132 minutes[3][4]
CountrySouth Korea[1][3]
LanguageKorean
Budget₩13.5 billion[5]
(~US$11.4 million)
Box office$266 million[6][7]

Parasite (Korean기생충; RRGisaengchung) is a 2019 South Korean black comedy thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Han Jin-won. It stars Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jin, and Lee Jung-eun and follows the members of a poor family who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family by infiltrating their household and posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals.

Parasite premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival on 21 May 2019, where it became the first South Korean film to win the Palme d'Or. It was then released in South Korea by CJ Entertainment on 30 May 2019.

The film received universal critical acclaim, with praise directed towards its screenplay, Bong's direction, acting, social commentary, dark humor, cinematography, editing and production values, and has featured in multiple listings of the best films of the 2010s and is considered one of the best South Korean films of all time. It grossed over $266 million worldwide on a production budget of about $11 million, becoming the highest-grossing South Korean film.

Among its numerous accolades, Parasite won a leading four awards at the 92nd Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. It became the first South Korean film to receive Academy Award recognition, as well as the first film not in English to win Best Picture.[note 1] It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language, and became the first film not in English to win the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

Plot[edit]

The Kim family – father Ki-taek, mother Chung-sook, daughter Ki-jung and son Ki-woo – live in a small semi-basement apartment (banjiha),[10] have low-paying temporary jobs as pizza box folders, and struggle to make ends meet.[11] University student Min-hyuk, a friend of Ki-woo's, gives the family a scholar's rock meant to promise wealth. Leaving to study abroad, he suggests that Ki-woo takes over his job as an English tutor for the wealthy Park family, though Ki-woo is initially hesitant. Ki-jung forges a diploma from Yonsei University for Ki-woo to help him get hired; upon arrival, Mrs. Park decides they will call him "Kevin".

The Kim family infiltrates the lives of the Parks by recommending each other's services, posing as unrelated and highly qualified workers. Ki-woo tutors and begins a romance with the Parks' daughter, Da-hye. Ki-jung poses as "Jessica", an art therapist to the Parks' hyperactive young son, Da-song. Ki-jung frames Mr Park's chauffeur as having had sex in the car by leaving her underwear beneath the passenger seat for Mr. Park to discover, and Ki-taek is hired to replace him. Finally, Chung-sook takes over as the Parks' housekeeper after the Kims exploit the severe peach allergy of the long-time housekeeper, Moon-gwang, and convince Mrs. Park that she has tuberculosis.

When the Parks leave on a camping trip for Da-song's birthday, the Kims revel in the luxuries of the Park residence. Moon-gwang returns, telling Chung-sook she has left something in the house's basement, and reveals the hidden entrance to an underground bunker created by the house's architect and previous owner. Moon-gwang's husband, Geun-sae, has been secretly living underneath the home for years, hiding from loan sharks after his Taiwanese bakery failed and left him in huge debt. Chung-sook refuses Moon-gwang's pleas to help Geun-sae remain in the bunker, but the eavesdropping Kims accidentally reveal to Moon-gwang the truth about them, leading her to gain the upper hand.

A severe rainstorm brings the Parks home early, and the Kims scramble to clean up the home before the Parks return, while a brawl breaks out between Moon-gwang, Geun-sae, and the Kims. The Kims trap Geun-sae and a mortally wounded Moon-gwang in the bunker, and Ki-taek sees Geun-sae sending a fruitless message in Morse code using the home's lights. Mrs. Park reveals to Chung-sook that Da-song had a seizure-inducing traumatic experience years ago when he saw a "ghost" – actually Geun-sae emerging from the basement – and that the family has celebrated Da-song's birthday outside the house ever since. The Kims escape the Parks' house unseen, but not before hearing Mr. Park offhand comment that Ki-taek, despite being a good employee, smells bad. Returning home to find their apartment completely flooded by the storm, the Kims are forced to sleep in a gymnasium with other displaced people.

The next day, Mrs. Park hosts a house party for Da-song's birthday, with the Kim family in attendance. Ki-woo enters the bunker with the scholar's rock to face Geun-sae. Finding Moon-gwang dead, he is attacked by Geun-sae, who bludgeons him with the rock and escapes. Seeking to avenge Moon-gwang, Geun-sae stabs Ki-jung with a kitchen knife in front of the horrified guests. Da-song suffers another seizure upon seeing Geun-sae, and a struggle breaks out until Chung-sook fatally impales Geun-sae with a barbecue skewer. While Ki-taek tends to a severely bleeding Ki-jung, Mr. Park orders him to drive Da-song to the hospital. In the chaos, Ki-taek, upon seeing Mr. Park's disgusted reaction to Geun-sae's smell, takes the knife and kills Mr. Park before fleeing the scene.

Weeks later, Ki-woo wakes up after brain surgery. He and Chung-sook are convicted of fraud and put on probation. Ki-jung has died from her injury and Ki-taek, wanted for Mr Park's murder, has vanished. Geun-sae's motives for the attack are a mystery to the public. Ki-woo watches the Parks' home, which has been sold to a German family unaware of its history and sees a message in Morse code from the flickering lights. It is from Ki-taek, who escaped into the bunker and now survives by scavenging from the new homeowners. Still living in the banjiha with his mother, Ki-woo writes a letter to Ki-taek, vowing to earn enough money to one day purchase the house and free his father.

Cast[edit]

The romanisation of the names of characters are as appeared in the official English subtitles, translated by Darcy Paquet.

  • Song Kang-ho as Kim Ki-taek (김기택; Gim Gitaek), father of the Kim family
  • Choi Woo-shik as Kim Ki-woo (Kevin; 김기우; Gim Giu), son of the Kim family
  • Park So-dam as Kim Ki-jung (Jessica; 김기정; Gim Gijeong), daughter of the Kim family
  • Jang Hye-jin as Park Chung-sook (박충숙; Bak Chungsuk), mother of the Kim family
  • Lee Sun-kyun as Park Dong-ik (Nathan; 박동익; Bak Dongik), father of the Park family
  • Cho Yeo-jeong as Choi Yeon-gyo (최연교; Choe Yeongyo), mother of the Park family
  • Jung Ji-so as Park Da-hye (박다혜; Bak Dahye), daughter of the Park family
  • Jung Hyeon-jun as Park Da-song (박다송; Bak Dasong), son of the Park family
  • Lee Jung-eun as Gook Moon-gwang (국문광; Guk Mungwang), the housekeeper
  • Park Myung-hoon as Oh Geun-sae (오근세; O Geunse), Moon-gwang's husband
  • Park Geun-rok as Yoon (; Yun), Kim Ki-taek's predecessor as Park Dong-ik's chauffeur
  • Park Seo-joon as Min-hyuk (민혁; Minhyeok), Ki-woo's friend (cameo appearance)[12]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The idea for Parasite originated in 2013. While working on Snowpiercer, Bong was encouraged by a theatre actor friend to write a play. He had been a tutor for the son of a wealthy family in Seoul in his early 20s, and considered turning his experience into a stage production.[13] The film's title, Parasite, was selected by Bong as it served a double meaning, which he had to convince the film's marketing group to use. Bong said "Because the story is about the poor family infiltrating and creeping into the rich house, it seems very obvious that Parasite refers to the poor family, and I think that's why the marketing team was a little hesitant. But if you look at it the other way, you can say that rich family, they're also parasites in terms of labor. They can't even wash dishes, they can't drive themselves, so they leech off the poor family's labor. So both are parasites."[14]

Writing[edit]

After completing Snowpiercer, Bong wrote a 15-page film treatment for the first half of Parasite, which his production assistant on Snowpiercer, Han Jin-won, turned into three different drafts of the screenplay.[13] After finishing Okja, Bong returned to the project and finished the script; Han received credit as a co-writer.[13]

Bong said the film was influenced by the 1960 Korean "domestic Gothic" film The Housemaid in which a middle-class family's stability is threatened by the arrival of a disruptive interloper in the form of household help.[15] The incident of Christine and Léa Papin—two live-in maids who murdered their employers in 1930s France—also served as a source of inspiration to Bong.[16] Bong also considered his own past, where he had tutored for a rich family. Bong said "I got this feeling that I was infiltrating the private lives of complete strangers. Every week I would go into their house, and I thought how fun it would be if I could get all my friends to infiltrate the house one by one."[17] Additionally, the element of Moon-gwang having an allergy to peaches was inspired by one of Bong's university friends having this allergy, as Bong confirmed in a Reddit AMA.[18] Another notable character element comes from Ki-woo and his inability to perform well in university examinations. Choi Woo-shik, who plays Ki-woo, stated that the character is intelligent, yet he does not have the "vigor" needed to succeed in examinations.[19] Ki-woo himself tells Da-hye that she needs that quality to pass examinations.[19]

Darcy Paquet, an American residing in South Korea, served as translator for the English subtitles and worked directly with Bong.[20] Paquet rendered Jjapaguri or Chapaguri (짜파구리), a dish cooked by a character in the film, as ram-don, meaning ramen-udon. It is a mix of Chapagetti and Neoguri.[21] The English version of the film shows packages labelled in English "ramyeon" and "udon" to highlight to English speakers how the name was created. Paquet believed the word ram-don did not previously exist as he found no results on Google.[22] On one occasion, Paquet used Oxford University as a reference instead of Seoul National University, and in another, used WhatsApp as the messaging application instead of KakaoTalk.[20] Paquet chose Oxford over Harvard University because of Bong's affinity for the United Kingdom, and because Paquet believed using Harvard would be "too obvious a choice."[22] Paquet wrote, "[I]n order for humor to work, people need to understand it immediately. With an unfamiliar word, the humor is lost."[22]

Following the release of the film, on 16 February 2020, Indian film producer P. L. Thenappan challenged the originality of the film script and threatened to take legal action against the makers of Parasite for "story theft" against his 1999 Tamil film Minsara Kanna. The allegation did not receive significant ongoing attention in the media and has not yet been adjudicated in a court.[23][24]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography for Parasite began on 18 May 2018[25][26] and ended 124 days later on 19 September 2018.[27] Filming took place around Seoul and in Jeonju.[28] The director of photography for the film is Hong Kyung-pyo.

The Parks' house was a specially constructed set. The first floor and the garden were constructed on an empty outdoor lot, while the basement and second floor were constructed on set.[29] Bong, as part of the scripting, had also designed the basic layout of this home. "It's like its own universe inside this film. Each character and each team has spaces that they take over that they can infiltrate, and also secret spaces that they don't know."[30] A fictional architect Namgoong Hyeonja had been introduced as the home's designer and the previous owner before the Parks, and production designer Lee Ha-jun considered the function and form of the house based on how Namgoong would have designed it.[29]

Lee said, "Since Mr Park's house is built by an architect in the story, it wasn't easy finding the right approach to designing the house...I'm not an architect, and I think there's a difference in how an architect envisions a space and how a production designer does. We prioritize blocking and camera angles while architects build spaces for people to actually live in and thus design around people. So I think the approach is very different."[30] For example, Ha-jun established that Namgoong would have used the first floor's living room to appreciate the garden, so it was built with a single wide window and only spartan seating options for this function.[29] Some of the interior artwork in the house sets were by South Korea artist Seung-mo Park, including existing artwork of hers and some explicitly created for the film.[29] Further, design of the home and of its interiors were aimed to make the set amenable for filming at the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, favoring wide and deeper rooms rather than height.[30]

Lee said the sun was an important factor when building the outdoor set. "The sun's direction was a crucial point of consideration while we were searching for outdoor lots," explained Lee. "We had to remember the sun's position during our desired time frame and determine the positions and sizes of the windows accordingly. In terms of practical lighting, the DP [director of photography Hong Kyung-pyo] had specific requests regarding the color. He wanted sophisticated indirect lighting and the warmth from tungsten light sources. Before building the set, the DP and I visited the lot several times to check the sun's movement at each time, and we decided on the set's location together."[30]

Set design[edit]

The Kim's semi-basement apartment and its street was also built on set, partially out of necessity for filming the flooding scenes.[30] Lee Ha-jun visited and photographed several abandoned villages and towns in South Korea scheduled to be torn down to help inform the set design. He also created stories for the Kim's neighbors and added details of those residents along the street to improve the authenticity of the street's appearance.[29]

Editing[edit]

According to editor Yang Jin-mo, Bong Joon-ho chose to shoot the film without traditional coverage. To give them more editing options with limited shots, they sometimes stitched together different takes of the same shot.[31]

The principal release and editing of the film was done for release in color. A black and white version of the film was produced prior to the world premiere in Cannes and debuted on 26 January 2020 at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and was rescreened from 29 to 31 January. It also received a limited release in some countries.[32][33]

Music[edit]

Parasite: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Jung Jae-il
Released30 May 2019
Recorded2019
GenreSoundtrack
Length52:14
LanguageKorean
Label
Singles from Parasite: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  1. "Soju One Glass"
    Released: 30 May 2019

The film's score was written by South Korean composer Jung Jae-il, who also wrote the score for Bong Joon-ho's 2017 film Okja. Jung's music for Parasite consists of "minimalist piano pieces, punctuated with light percussion," which sets the film's "tense atmosphere."[34] Excerpts from Handel's opera Rodelinda and the 1964 Italian song "In ginocchio da te" by Gianni Morandi also appear in the film.[34]

The end credits song "Soju han jan" (Korean: 소주 한 잔, lit. 'A glass of soju'; not to be confused with an unrelated song with same Korean title by Im Chang-jung) was written by Bong and is performed by Choi Woo-shik, who also played the main character Ki-woo.[35] It is displayed in English as "Soju One Glass" [sic] in the international digital releases of the soundtrack. When the song made it to the December 2019 shortlist for the 92nd Academy Awards in the Best Original Song category,[35] it was listed under a grammatically correct English title, "A Glass of Soju".[36]

The English titles of the scores listed below are as displayed in the back cover of the album and in the international digital releases of the soundtrack;[37][38] the romanisation of names and nouns used are slightly different from those seen in the official English subtitles as translated by Darcy Paquet.

Original track list
No.TitleLength
1."Opening" (시작, 'Start')2:07
2."Conciliation I" (첫번째 알선, 'First conciliation')1:04
3."On the Way to Rich House" (부잣집 가는 길, 'On the way to the house of a wealthy family')0:55
4."Conciliation II" (두번째 알선, 'Second conciliation')1:10
5."Plum Juice" (매실청, Maesilcheong)0:55
6."Mr. Yoon and Park" (윤기사와 박사장, 'Chauffeur Yoon and President Park')1:51
7."Conciliation III" (세번째 알선, 'Third conciliation')1:17
8."The Belt of Faith" (믿음의 벨트, 'Chain of trust')7:13
9."Moon Gwang Left" (떠나는 문광, 'Moon-gwang leaving')0:56
10."Camping" (야영)3:05
11."The Hellgate" (지옥의 문, 'Gate of Hell')1:15
12."Heartrending Story of Bubu" (부부의 사연, 'Story of a married couple')1:35
13."Zappaguri" (짜파구리, Jjapaguri[a])1:47
14."Ghost" (유령)2:00
15."The Family is Busy" (첫번째 동분서주, 'First busyness')1:09
16."Busy to Survive" (두번째 동분서주, 'Second busyness')1:53
17."The Frontal Lobe of Ki Taek" (기택의 전두엽)2:42
18."Water, Ocean" (물바다, 'Flood')4:41
19."Water, Ocean Again" (또 물바다, 'Flood again')1:36
20."It Is Sunday Morning" (일요일 아침, 'Sunday morning')4:03
21."Blood and Sword" (피와 칼, 'Blood and knife')3:02
22."Yasan" (야산, 'Hillock')1:15
23."Moving" (이사)1:44
24."Ending" (, 'End')0:53
25."Soju One Glass" (소주 한 잔, 'A glass of soju'; performed by Choi Woo-shik)3:20
Total length:52:14
  1. ^ Jjapaguri refers to a mashup dish of instant noodles Chapagetti and Neoguri. The name of the dish was translated as "ramdon" in the official English subtitles of the film.

Themes and interpretations[edit]

The main themes of Parasite are class conflict, social inequality and wealth disparity.[39][40] Film critics and Bong Joon-ho himself have considered the film as a reflection of late-stage capitalism,[41][42] and some have associated it with the term "Hell Joseon", a phrase which has become popular, especially with young people, in the late 2010s to describe the difficulties of life in South Korea.[43][44] The film also analyses the use of "connections" to get ahead, especially for rich families[45] but for the poor Kims as well.

Critics have also considered the themes of colonialism and imperialism. According to Ju-Hyun Park, the film plays out within "the capitalist economic order inaugurated and upheld in Korea by colonial occupation," and the use of English language in the film denotes prestige within that economic system.[46] The Park family's son, Da-song, is obsessed with "Indians" and owns Native American-themed toys and inauthentic replicas.[47][48] Bong has noted that "the Native Americans have a very complicated and long, deep history. But in this family, that story is reduced to a young boy's hobby and decoration... That's what happens in our current time: The context and meaning behind these actual things only exists as a surface-level thing."[49]

Bong has referred to Parasite as an upstairs/downstairs or "stairway movie",[16] in which staircases are used as a motif to represent the positions of the Kim and Park families as well as those of Moon-gwang.[50] The semi-basement apartment that the Kims live in are common for poorer Seoul residents due to their low rent prices, despite having several issues such as mold and increased risk of disease.[39] Monsoon floods such as the one depicted in the film commonly damage these types of residences the most.[45]

According to Bong, the ending implies that Ki-woo will not be able to earn the funds needed to buy the house as it shows Ki-woo while still in the basement; he described this shot as a "surefire kill" (확인사살), referring to a coup de grace to ensure death.[16] The ending song, translating to "546 years" refers to Ki-woo working to make money to get the house. Its title is an allegory that is a calculation made by Bong that it will take approximately 546 years for Ki-woo to finally earn the amount of money to purchase the house; Choi Woo-shik stated that "I'm pretty sure Ki-woo is one of those bright kids. He'll come up with some idea, and he would just go into the German family's house, and I think he will rescue his father."[19] According to many interpretations, this dream ascribes to a bootstrapping mentality and is unlikely to be achieved;[16][41][19] furthermore, "it does not address the fundamental problem at hand. Even in this fantasy scenario, Ki-taek would still be contained in the house by a legal system that would seek his prosecution and imprisonment. The forces that created and upheld the Kim family's separation would not be undone, merely adapted to."[46]

Release[edit]

Director and stars at an April 2019 press event.

Neon acquired the North American rights to the film at the 2018 American Film Market.[51][52] The film's rights were also pre-sold to German-speaking territories (Koch Films), French-speaking territories (The Jokers) and Japan (Bitters End).[53] The film had its world premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival on 21 May.[54] It was released in South Korea on 30 May 2019.[4][27]

It was released in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Films on 27 June 2019[55] (becoming both the highest-ever-grossing Korean film in the region[56] and the distributor's highest-ever-grossing non-English-language film in Australia),[57] Russia on 4 July 2019, and in the United States and Canada on 11 October 2019.[58] The film was originally scheduled to be screened as a closing film at FIRST International Film Festival Xining in China on 28 July 2019, but on 27 July, the film festival organizers announced that the screening was cancelled for "technical reasons."[59]

It was licensed for the United Kingdom and Ireland by Curzon Artificial Eye at Cannes, and had preview screenings with an interview with Bong Joon-ho shared live by satellite on 3 February 2020, followed by the film's general release on 7 February.[60] Neon expanded the number of North American theaters showing the film from 1,060 to 2,001 starting the weekend of 14 February 2020, following the film's recognition at the Academy Awards,[61] despite the film having already been released on home video in the region.[62] A special IMAX remaster was shown at limited North American theaters during the week of 21 February 2020.[63]

Home media[edit]

On 28 January 2020, Parasite was released on Blu-ray in Region A and DVD in Region 1 by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.[64][65] On 13 February 2020, it was announced that the film will be released on home media by the Criterion Collection.[66][67] On 24 February 2020, the subscription-based streaming service Hulu announced that it had secured exclusive rights to stream the film in the United States, starting on 8 April 2020.[68] Additionally, Amazon Prime Video began streaming the film on 28 March 2020.[69]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

As of 15 March 2020, Parasite has grossed $53.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $213.5 million in other territories (including $71.1 million from South Korea), for a worldwide total of $266.9 million.[7][6] It set a new record for Bong, becoming the first of his films to gross over $100 million worldwide.[70]

In the film's United States opening weekend, the film grossed $376,264 from three theatres. Its per-venue average of $125,421 was the best since La La Land's in 2016, and the best ever for an international film.[71] It expanded to 33 theatres in its second weekend, making $1.24 million,[72] and then made $1.8 million from 129 theatres in its third.[73] The film made $2.5 million in its fourth weekend and $2.6 million in its fifth.[74] The film's initial theatre count peaked in its sixth weekend at 620, when it made $1.9 million.[75] It continued to hold well in the following weekends, making $1.3 million and $1 million.[76][77]

In its tenth week of release the film crossed the $20 million mark (rare for an international film), making $632,500 from 306 theatres.[78] During the weekend of the Oscars, the film made $1.5 million from 1,060 theaters for a running total of $35.5 million.[79] After Neon's doubling of theater showings in the week following the Academy Awards, the film made $5.5 million in North American revenue, making it one of the biggest Best Picture bumps since Slumdog Millionaire in 2009 and the biggest in ten years.[80]

In its native South Korea, Parasite grossed US$20.7 million on its opening weekend,[6] and would close its box office run with US$72.2 million and more than 10 million admissions, roughly one-fifth of the country's population and ranking among the year's top five films.[81][82] On 5 February, Parasite became the first Korean film in nearly 15 years that surpassed one million moviegoers in Japan.[83] In the UK, it broke the record for the opening weekend of a non-English-language film, making £1.4 million ($1.8 million) including previews over its debut weekend, from 135 screens,[84] and in Australia it took in over $1.9 million.[85] In the weekend following its Oscars wins, the film made $12.8 million from 43 countries, bringing its international total to $161 million, and its global running gross over the $200 million mark.[86]

Following its Academy Awards success, Parasite received significant rescreening for both domestic and international audiences, generating significant further revenue. The Associated Press reported the biggest "Oscar effect" since 2001 after Gladiator won the Oscar for Best Picture. Parasite's box office revenue increased by more than 230% compared to the prior week, grossing $2.15 million in a single day. It also ranked No. 1 in Japan, the first Korean film to do so in 15 years.[87] The Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia announced that $749K worth of cinema tickets were sold in a single weekend, with the film re-entering the top 10 at the local box office more than six months after it debuted in Australian cinemas. Parasite also surged back to fourth place in South Korea's box office by attracting more than 80,000 viewers.[88][89]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 99% based on 426 reviews, with an average rating of 9.37/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "An urgent, brilliantly layered look at timely social themes, Parasite finds writer-director Bong Joon Ho in near-total command of his craft."[90] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 96 out of 100, based on 52 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[91]

Writing for The New York Times, A. O. Scott described the film as "wildly entertaining, the kind of smart, generous, aesthetically energized movie that obliterates the tired distinctions between art films and popcorn movies."[92] Bilge Ebiri of New York magazine wrote that Parasite is "a work that is itself in a state of constant, agitated transformation—a nerve-racking masterpiece whose spell lingers long after its haunting final image."[93] In his five-star review of the film, Dave Calhoun of Time Out praised the social commentary and stated that "This is a dazzling work, surprising and fully gripping from beginning to end, full of big bangs and small wonders."[94] Variety's Jessica Kiang described the film as "a wild, wild ride," writing that "Bong is back and on brilliant form, but he is unmistakably, roaringly furious, and it registers because the target is so deserving, so enormous, so 2019: Parasite is a tick fat with the bitter blood of class rage."[95] The A. V. Club's A. A. Dowd awarded the film an A− grade, praising the fun and surprising twists.[96] Joshua Rivera from GQ gave a glowing review and declared Parasite to be "Maybe 2019's best film", further adding, "It's so top-to-bottom satisfying that even being completely spoiled couldn't ruin it – but if you can come to it cold, you'll be floored."[97]

Michael Wood writing for the London Review of Books found the film to follow a theme of class consciousness to be consistent with the director's previous film Snowpiercer stating, "The theme of social ascent, or social difference as a landscape, could hardly be more obvious, but we are beginning to get the movie's idea: not to avoid stereotypes but to keep crashing into them".[98] Paddy Kehoe writing for RTÉ found the film to be insufficient as a social commentary by not presenting alternative viewpoints giving the film 2.5/5 stars and stating: "No doubt Asian capitalist interests are well-served in the end, there won't be rioting in the streets on the back of this one. A film is hardly effective satire if it doesn't point up a route to radical change".[99] UK film website TheShiznit gave the film an A, noting "it makes you wonder what the inflection point for such behaviour is in a culture where manners and servitude are drilled into those who can't afford not to have them".[100]

Parasite ranked 1st in a survey conducted by IndieWire of over 300 critics, in the Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Foreign Film categories.[101] Parasite appeared on over 240 critics' year-end top-ten lists, including 77 who ranked the film first.[102] On Metacritic, Parasite was rated as the best film of 2019[102][103] and ranked 7th among the films with the highest scores of the decade.[104] As of 28 December 2019, it is the 40th highest-rated film of all time on the website.[105]

Accolades[edit]

Bong Joon-ho garnered widespread critical acclaim for his direction and was awarded the Academy Award for Best Director in 2020.

Parasite won the Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. It became the first South Korean film to do so, as well as the first film to win with a unanimous vote since Blue Is the Warmest Colour at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[106][107] At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for three awards, including Best Director and Best Screenplay, and won Best Foreign Language Film, becoming the first ever South Korean film to achieve that feat.[108][109]

It became the second international film to ever be nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture since Life Is Beautiful (1997), and ultimately won the category, making it the first international film to win the prize.[110][111] Parasite was also nominated for four awards at the 73rd British Academy Film AwardsBest Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Not in the English Language. It became the first South Korean film to receive nominations at the British Academy Film Awards (except for Best Film Not in the English Language), and went on to win Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Not in the English Language.[112][113]

Parasite was submitted as the South Korean entry for Best International Feature Film for the 92nd Academy Awards, making the December shortlist.[114][115][116] It went on to win four awards—Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. Parasite became the first non-English language film in Academy Awards history to win Best Picture. Parasite also became the first South Korean film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and the second East Asian film to receive a nomination for Best Picture since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000),[117], and Bong Joon-ho became the fourth Asian to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, becoming the second to win following Ang Lee. It also received nominations for Best Film Editing and Best Production Design.[118][119][120] The film is also the second film to win both the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Palme d'Or at Cannes under the latter's name in 65 years since Marty,[121] being the third film to win both grand prizes after the former and The Lost Weekend.

During Bong Joon-ho's acceptance speech at the Oscars, he paused to thank Martin Scorsese, a co-nominated director, whom Bong recognized as having historical importance to the history of filmmaking which resulted in spontaneous applause from the audience in recognition of Scorsese during his speech. The following day Scorsese sent the director a personal congratulatory letter which Bong reported while on a speaking engagement at the Lincoln Center Film Society where Bong stated that he could not share the full letter from Scorsese due to its personal nature. He did, however, share the conclusion of the letter by stating that Scorsese told him that "You've done well. Now rest. But don't rest for too long." Bong then added that Scorsese ended his letter by stating "how he and other directors were waiting for my (Bong's) next movie."[122]

The Associated Press commented that although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) had previously failed to adequately recognize women filmmakers in the Academy Award nominations, this time it acknowledged diversity. The AP noted that the film's victory, because of its being an Oscar-winning foreign film in a regular Academy category, opens the door for Hollywood to undergo a radical change and a different kind of advancement. The Wall Street Journal also stated that the film seemed to promise a "more inclusive Oscars" demanded by those who have previously criticized AMPAS.[123]

Finally, Parasite was nominated for Most Valuable Film of 2020 by Cinema for Peace.[124]

Legacy[edit]

Spin-off television series[edit]

An HBO limited series based on the film, with Bong and Adam McKay as executive producers, is in early development.[125] Bong has stated that the series, also titled Parasite, will explore stories "that happen in between the sequences in the film".[126][127] In February, Mark Ruffalo and Tilda Swinton were rumoured to star in the series.[128][129]

Plans for tourist set[edit]

A South Korean local government (Goyang City) plans to restore the Goyang Aqua Special Shooting Studio set, where the film Parasite was produced, and use it as a Parasite movie experience tourism facility. In addition, Goyang City has announced that it will invest $150 million in the development of the Goyang Film Culture Complex by 2026 to accommodate film experience tourism facilities, additional indoor studios, outdoor set production facilities, inter-Korean video content centres, and image research and development companies.[130][131][132] However, criticisms have been raised about the commercialization of areas known for poverty in South Korea as tourist destinations without concrete steps being taken to address the issues at hand.[133][134][135]

Seoul Tourism Organization has been criticized by South Korea's opposition party and residents of Seoul for introducing a tour route featuring filming locations and stories from the movie. The Justice Party claims that the movie became famous due to the universal recognition of global inequality.[136] However, it sees the development of a tourist attraction based on the film in Seoul as amounting to the further exploitation of poverty.[137] Residents living in Parasite's filming locations have reportedly complained of a sense of embarrassment and discomfort due to an increase in tourists visiting their neighborhoods and taking photos of their surroundings, making them feel like "monkeys in a zoo".[138] In response, the local government of Seoul has announced that government funding will prioritize the estimated 1500 low-income families living in the semi-basement type accommodations featured in the film.[139]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Although Parasite was the first film not in English to win Best Picture at the Oscars, it is not to be confused with the first foreign film (produced by a company of a country that does not have English as its primary language) to win Best Picture, which was achieved by The Artist in 2012. The French-produced film was largely silent with French intertitles and contained a few spoken lines in English.[8] The Academy dictates foreign language as the main qualification for international film, hence The Artist did not qualify.[9]

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