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Oscar 2020: Why Parasite ?

Text: Edgi  |2020.2.23


A hint of Korean painful history and philosophical discussion about Existentialism, the film suddenly deep dive in the social issue with brutal attitude. 



It is a twist between Western and Eastern.

When Jane Fonda opened envelop and announced the best picture at Oscar, her voice was a bit shaken. Sure that it is surprising and unpredictable result even for such sophisticated and experienced lady.

Parasite made the History and make you ask : Why ?

I don't really know how the Korean film distribute to the US market and Oscar Academy committee, but the film itself, it is powerful that the Western director would not make like this when the theme comes to about wealth gap and poor’s daily lives.

Other nominated movies at Best Picture is also high-rated, such as 1917 and Irishman. I think the theme of Parasite make the film stand out from other movie.
Especially, the complicated wealth gap issue deepen worldwide, the film set the benchmark about poor and rich relationship at the society.

Asian countries probably are earlier to face the problem because different background from Western countries. Lack of social welfare in Asia, someone for family and survival, could kill people, in some extreme cases. At Asian society, people usually looking for social ladder to climb up to live better for themselves and their family. It is love and also burden. Western countries relatively provide better social welfare and less family value and the main social concept is humanity with fairness. Of course there is always having dark side but the poor family issue is more severe in Asia. I am sure that any Western director could not make a film about poor people survival dark as Parasite. Those Poor people are being bad , or the society forced them to be bad ? It is interesting that the film each line in conversation between the family member raise out the questions. To describe poor rich conflict happens in daily lives without boredom and even turns it into thriller drama, Bong Joon Ho is real master.

Before the sweep of Oscar, Korean film industry is well-developed already.  Korean movie have its own format and always constructed. Korean film maker would combine all elements in one film. For the competitive market, it must be launched as commercial film but always - art film elements (visual and content) underneath. That’s why serious critics or audience would accept Korean film even some of them is highly commercial. Parasite as example, it is comedy (at the beginning) with family and love story, features K Idol young actors, added some sex scene (Cho Yeo-jeong who played the Rich wife has previous CV with sexual drama film ) , which are all good fit as commercial mainstream film. As all you know, after the 50 mins, the film make a U-Turn. A hint of Korean painful history and philosophical discussion about Existentialism, the film suddenly deep dive in the social issue with brutal attitude. 

It makes me think of another Korean film The Bachuus Lady by E J-yong, which is awesome too. I have seen it on HKIFF on 2016. It is well-constructed with all elements , comedy as the frame combine with history and social problem, finally make a thriller twist and sadness in the end. Unfortunately it is about elderly and no K idol like actor appear at the film , which make its commercial and popular potential much lower. In the formation, I think the film is similar to Parasite.

Sprayed with glamour and fantasy, the rich family in Parasite is another good element in commercial film, as Korean film & TV industry always did. Interesting that the rich couple is stereotype, their background and details has blurred. It seems like mocking about rich people but at the same time, the main focus is on the poor - with contrast the explicit explanation with the poor Kim family. The role setting in the family  orchestrated the script, especially the father’s ego and the daughter’s cold eye, these minor expression turn up the film to extreme. 

Director Boon also made Parasite with B&W version, he explained that as all great movies are B&W.  His passion (and confidence) on movie will make him to do so but I think the reason why he make B&W that it is his way to highlight the poor family’s emotion - and temptation, like all expressionist film.