A biting, meticulous flavour, new and strange to the palette.
Crafted in typically beautiful and meticulous fashion, Bong Joon Ho‘s Parasite is engineered to create such a unique and complex array of responses. The… newness of this particular combination, to this viewer at least, is simultaneously thrilling, abject and unsettling in ways that feel closest, viscerally, to “horror” – and while the film does traffic in terrifying ideas, the term is reductive and not at all worthy. For help with breaking down the how & why of these different observations, I’ve rounded up takes from my favourite channels.
But first: of all the wonderful performances, the father (Kang-ho Song) is so charming, the sister (So-dam Park) is deliciously duplicitous, and her moment with her brother just before she enters the fray may be my favourite of the film.
So, first: an opening scene breakdown, care of the director and actor Woo-sik Choi (via Vanity Fair):
Great films establish their own vocabulary and develop their own grammar with it. Objects imbued with meaning become symbols; symbols used repeatedly become motifs; and a combination of motifs comprise a theme. Lessons from the Screenplay posts that – as exemplified by ‘Parasite — The Power of Symbols‘ can “transcend language and culture”:
These symbols also have very specific cultural meaning. Wisecrack elaborates on ‘Parasite: Perfecting Class Critique‘ by further delving into the socioeconomic significance of visual details, such as food and drink, which reference the collapse of South Korea’s middle class:
That “horror” tag I mentioned? Broey Deschanel seems to be feeling it too, and outlines ‘Why Parasite Should Terrify Us (Spoilers)‘:
The Parasite Film School is a collection of videos from filmmakers, analysts and essayists, examining the film as a case study in film pre-production, production and post-production:
A broader look at themes, storytelling techniques, and other recurring elements throughout the director’s filmography: