When people asks me, why I liked “Parasite” so much or why I would recommend it, some things always come to mind, I’ll try to answer those questions here: Why I think you should watch it (if you haven’t) and Why it deserved all that praise.
Since Baeksaekin (White Man), Bong Joon-ho has showed us how much he likes to address sensitive subjects as social criticism, capitalism and behaviorism, Parasite is no exception to this.
One of his strong cards is the cast he chooses, we have Song Kang-ho (one of the greatest skorean actors, if you ask me) as the head of Kim’s family, he has been his co-pilot in some of his movies and both trust each other’s judgment, so much that Kang-ho accepted the role without knowing what the movie was about and Joon-ho admitted that if Kang-ho hadn’t accepted the role, movie wouldn’t have been made.
Why all the critics and most people loved it, why it deserved all those awards?
What we have here is an extraordinary script, where every single character has a congruent and proper development.
Now, we should talk about that beautiful, out of this world cinematography, with the help of Lee Ha-Jun in the area of Production Design, Hong Kyung-Pyo gave us not only amazing shots, but a window to Joon-ho’s mind, but not only in a metaphorical way… both houses have huge windows, windows that are of the same size of our screens, in this way we as spectators can witness everything that happens between the two homes, the story without the script, understanding how the set design was used in this film can tell us more about how the class structure was constructed for both worlds.
The Kim Family
First we have The Kim Home, some sort of basement/apartment, where the highest part in it, is the toilet, they are in the lower part of the social class pyramid, so low that even to go to the toilet they have to go upstairs.
In this window, we can see everything that happens in the street, the angle it’s pretty similar to the one we saw in “Snowpiercer”, lower class is in the left of your screen, that’s why we see through the right angle of the window.
Since the beginning, we have the symbolism of the cockroaches, they have to live with them, they are in the same level and at some point Ms. Kim makes the reference about his in-law hiding like a cockroach, because that’s the lowest form of life… next scene, they have to hide literally under the Parks, like cockroaches, to avoid being noticed.
Then we have the rainstorm scene, the journey of the Kims returning to their home is one of the most stunning sequences I’ve seen, they keep descending in their way back home, have to go through so many staircases and in every shot is portrayed the despair with which they have to return to their reality; we can really see how big the difference between both families is.
All the water from the storm makes uninhabitable their house, for them the storm means flooding, they are so low in this structure that the water from the streets, the water from their own toilet and even people peeing outside their house are flooding them.
Kims think rich people are parasites because they have it all, they are naive, they don’t have to work hard for anything, so a few lies wouldn’t hurt; in that way they are still a bit innocent, we can see this with the “Jessica’s song”, a child song made to help kids remember important things and they used it to learn their lies.
The Park Family
We can see how sunlight is the way to illustrate the better life of the upper-class, meaning, the Parks.
Because they are higher up in society, class, wealth… they are “closer to the sun”. When we are allowed to see The Park Home, we see it from the same point of view of Kim Ki-jung (Kim’s son); the camerawork is fantastic, every movement through that staircase, let us see how the closer he gets, the brighter the sun, the entire house is “drowned” in sunlight.
In this window we see the “greener grass”, as in “Snowpiercer”, upper class is in the right of your screen, we keep seeing the film through the left angle of their window.
The staircases are very important for this house, they are top of the top, you keep going up and up to see them, even in their bedrooms.
In the rainstorm scene, nothing happens to the their house, the water finds its course downstairs, following the Kims; for the Parks the storm means an spectacle, something they can watch together in the comfort of their living room.
Parks think that their employees are never going to be at their level, even for how they smell, they smell like literally a lower class, like something you only find in the dirt, like a parasite.
For both families, their families are the most important thing in the world, that’s why when Mr. Park put his family above the Kims, we have that reaction, that’s something that has gradually led to this.
Why I recommend it?
What I think that makes a great cinematic experience is the eye for detail; here we have too many small details that kept rubbing in our faces how big is the difference between both families:
In the scene with the “Ram-Don” (wordplay) dish, we understand this is a kids meal and that’s why the mother chose it, but to make us see how wealthy they are, they added “sirloin” (hanwoo beef) to it.
Even if the Kims live in a basement, the window let us know they can still see a bit of sun, they still have hope, we can see this when they start getting the jobs, before that it was only gray.
Mr.Park’s company name is “Another Brick”, letting us know, they are just another one in the same social sphere, hence the fancy parties, the house designed by a famous architect, how Mrs. Park doesn’t even know how the subway smells, etc.
When Min-hyuk gives a very precious suseok as a gift to the Parks, probably we don’t really get the meaning at first… these stones are usually found in riverbeds, there they take tolls underwater for so long until finally they resemble mountains, the more the stone look as a mountain, the more precious it is. Mountains have different meanings in asian culture, it depends on the country but one that all have in common, is that they are considered sacred. That good-luck “charm” gets all this meaning when it’s finally used by the Parks to try to keep that “luck” but at the end the sacred gods will give you what you deserve.
It has more comedy in the beginning to set the tone and you can make a bond with the characters; so you empathize with them at some level.
It’s a strong critic to our society but disguised as a normal story, which I don’t mind because that’s how I prefer these things.
The name per se is a metaphor of how some people are a parasites, that they are ok living in that way and the other way around, how some people see and treat other people as parasites.
Cinematography is gorgeous, story and characters are well developed, even the OST in certain scenes is magnificent, those slow-motion moments let you see all the little details so you can appreciate them.
Bong Joon-ho mixes comedy with tragedy, guess it’s like life itself but definitely, if you are expecting something with more “action”… this might not be for you, otherwise I highly recommend it.