Parasite and its director Bong Joon-Ho took the Oscars by a storm with its critical reviews and success. It is safe to say that rarely any other international film has ever been subject to such fame. However, it also sparked a few questions among many social circles. People were still uncomfortable with the idea of a movie winning four Oscars, especially when they can’t understand it without subtitles. Today, we’ll explore how the movie stands out uniquely from other Hollywood successes.
Parasite’s genre is that it has no genre
The most interesting thing about Parasite is that it has no properly defined genre that we can associate it with. The movie starts off as a human drama and then shifts into a comedy. As if that wasn’t enough, it then turns into a thriller and then a horror film. As it nears its end, it again changes into a human drama film, completing a full circle. Such transitions should render the film unwatchable, yet it still somehow feels natural. That is the magic of Bong Joon-Ho, the director of the film, as described by David Ehrlich in his article in Indiewire:
Giddy one moment, unbearably tense the next, and always so entertaining and fine-tuned that you don’t even notice when it’s changing gears,
It’s a magic trick that Bong is able to pull off because he’s able to carve an entire breathless setpiece from a single wooden table.
Bong Joon-Ho pulled this off with magical fluidity. Rarely other Hollywood films are able to execute such transitions seamlessly.
The vivid symbolism in the movie
Bong Joon-Ho gives immense attention to detail. As a result, Parasite too is riddled with symbols that depict the inescapable class divide, a by-product of rampant capitalism. There were several elements in the film put in place by the director just to make us realize the severity of the class divide. The endless number of stairs depicted the distance between the lower class and the elite. The stone that was so dear to Choi-Woo Shik was hollow because it symbolized false hopes of class mobility. Furthermore, the two classes had different expectations attached to a concept as basic as rain. For the lower class, it depicted flooding, destruction, and nuisance, whereas for the elites it represented the bounties of nature.
Bong Joon-Ho deliberately put these symbols in the film to strengthen our idea of the class divide. Needless to say, he was more than successful in doing so.
The characters and the acting in Parasite
First off, the actors did an absolutely wonderful job in this film. The leading cast, which included Park So-dam, Cho Yeo-Jeong, Choi Woo-Shik, Jeong Ji-so, Kang-Ho Song among others depicted their characters perfectly. Park So-dam especially got a lot of recognition for her quirky and clever character. That brings us to the brilliance of the script and the characters.
It is difficult to classify the characters as heroes or villains. The poor Kim family were talented and envious but were only so because of circumstances. Many of the audience rooted for them throughout the film, despite these flaws. Similarly, the rich Park family was not inherently evil but were rather nice people. Their elitist mentality stemmed from their upbringing and lack of awareness. These blurred lines help the audience re-evaluate their own place in the world.
The final verdict on whether Parasite deserves the Oscars or not
Other movies that depict class differences are never so vivid, yet subtle in forwarding their message. The class difference has always been a sensitive topic, however, Parasite did well and truly championed in its depiction in popular culture. Its effects in Hollywood, as well as foreign cinema, will be felt for decades. Such an impact alone is enough to say that Parasite was well worthy of its Oscar-winning status. Much of the criticism against it simply stems from the difficulty in understanding the script for non-Korean watchers. Once the language barrier is sidelined, Parasite can easily be seen for the masterpiece it is.