The town I live in has something very great about it: Each month they show not-so-mainstream movies away from the huge cinema in town. For someone from a small city that is amazing. When the most indie and artsy thing you usually get to see is Endgame … That is amazing.
So: What did my friends and I do? We took advantage of that, of course and went to see Parasite a while back … And holy shit. What a film!
Here’s my thoughts on Parasite!
Director: Boon Joon-Ho
Writer: Boon Joon-Ho
Country: South Korea
|Song Kang-ho: Kim Ki-taek|
Lee Sun-kyun: Park Dong-ik
Jo Yeo-jeong: Yeon-kyo
Jang Hye-jin: Chung-sook
Park So-dam: Kim Ki-jung
Choi Woo-shik: Kim Ki-woo
Jeong Ji-so: Park Da-hye
Jung Hyun-joon: Park Da-song
Lee Jung-eun: Gook Moon-gwang
Park Myung-hoon: Geun-se
Length: 132 Minutes
Parasite – Plot Summary
The Kim family lives in poverty: Crammed in a basement, no money to pay for necessities, no proper jobs … With their son Ki-woo’s friend Min arrives an opportunity: Min wants Ki-Woo to take over his tutoring student Park Da-Hye while he’s away abroad. Ki-Woo is on the fence at first since he is nowhere near qualified yet his friends keeps pushing him.
After taking the job and – weirdly – acing the job interview with Da-hye’s mother a new plot arises: Slowly but surely the Kim-Family members replace the rich Park-Family’s employee’s – one by one.
But their plot is soon about to be derailed.
ALSO: SPOILERS MAY BE INEVITABLE!
Thoughts on Parasite – The Commedy of Social Horrors
When I first stumbled across a poster for Parasite in Panama my friend and I got excited: Finally some Asian horror film would grace our retinas once again. We wanted to go, but didn’t get the chance.
The movie left my conscious right after that: I like horror movies, but if get to miss one … I’m not going to cry over spilled milk.
After getting back to Germany I stumbled across the movie once more: Each month one of my professors co-organizes movie showings of more unconventional movies that normally wouldn’t show in regular cinemas. Parasite was on for October, so my friends and me decided to go.
The weird thing is: I had seen the trailer by now and read some articles about it – not to many since I try to avoid anything that might spoil a movie for me – and by now I’d been expecting a social drama.
So what is it now? Neither. And Both.
See, that’s what fascinates me so about this movie and what makes it one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time: Parasite balances different moods and atmospheres incredibly well.
Usually with a movie that incorporates elements of satire, comedy, drama, horror and mystery you’d feel the massive changes in tone to be out of place but here … It works. None of the changes ever fell out of place and everything grips into iself perfectly.
Not only does the camera work with the atmosphere, so do the actors, the lighting, the sound, the colours. Everybody shows an incredible range.
For example: When the Kim-Family first discovers the hidden passage to the secret basement the tone-shift is very noticeable but it didn’t throw the audience off. The opposite is true: Everybody really wanted to know where the shift was coming from. Everybody was alarmed yet also excited to find out more. Just like the characters themselves.
The camera shifts into first person, the light goes green and you could almost smell the musky basement. Before we were merely watching, a family – amoral, yes; but still likeable – now we’re in the middle of it.
I especially liked the shift from comedy (kind of) to horror: Again: The Kims are amoral, but deep down, you kind of want them to succeed. They’re not only funny and have great family chemistry … They are us. Chances are: We have faced struggles they are facing right before our eyes. That comedic likeability is important to make the social critique and the horror elements following so much more valuable. To make them hit so close to home. To make us care.
Parasite shows, how tone-shifts can work to make a move come together instead of breaking it apart.
Thoughts on Parasite – Of Basements and Mansions
Now … Something you notice even, if you’re not the I’m-going-to-look-for-a-sign-and-make sense-of-this-type of movie watcher, you’ll notice some themes in Parasite: It’s a movie of contrasts. Rich and Poor. Darkness and Light. Basements and Mansions.
The positioning of the poor (or, well, let’s face it: This is becoming “middle class”) in basements – the Kims live an an underground situation, same thing goes for the old housekeeper’s husband – and the literal cycle of ascending and decending whenever they get to the Parks’ house is fascinating. More than that. Not only do the Kims live in a basement – literally underground – but whenever they go to work at the Park’s they first have to descend stars up to the house. They do not only ascend socially – The ascend literally as well.; but in the end: They always have to go back. There is no consistency; Their situation is fragile.
This becomes even more relevant, when they discover the staircase down to the Parks’ bunker. Even in heaven, there’s a little bit of hell to be found. There’s not only misery lurking underneath. There’s danger as well. And the weird thin is? The people living in that house don’t even know about it. They have never seen misery so they are perfectly oblivious. Perfectly naive. Something that is even stated by the characters.
You have to have lived a live to be completely aware of all its implications. And people will abuse your naivité whenever they get the chance. Life is a constant struggle and not everyone comes out on top … Some people will forever stay in the dark. The weird thing? Sometimes you don’t even have to be a winner. Sometimes you get to buy your way out.
A lot of that theming actually reminded me of Metropolis by Fritz Lang (one of my all time favourite movies; I’ll geek out about that somewhen else …).
Shortly: The quite dystopian, highly industrialized world of Metropolis is split in two as well: There’s the high world above ground where the rich live. Gardens, Galas, Parties, blinding white clothing and furniture. No dirt. These people run the world, the rund the system and the get rich off it.
Below – people litterally descend through elevators (not stairs … But I guess that has something to do with the industrialized theming) – is where all the work happens, the dirt collects. Workers all look the same, wear dirty and dark clothing, the entire city is – in highly expressionist manner – crooked and close to collapse …
Lighting was a huge thing in expressionist film art as well (gosh, I love expressionism!).
This seems like a very euro-centric (or more: germany-centric) view on things but I still though it would be a nice thing to mention.
This is called Thoughts on Parasite so I get to write down whatever thoughts pop into my head.
Thoughts on Parasite – Flocks of a feather?
Halfway through the movie the Kim’s notice that there is a hidden bunker underneath the Parks’ house.
As ist turns out: They don’t know about it. It’s been built in there by the originalinhabitant and architect of the building, yet the Parks were never told about it. The only person knowing is the ex-housekeeper who had worked for the architect before and who got fired because of the Kims.
This happend unexpectedly so she had no chance to get her husband … who’d she been keeping in said basement.
You see: They’re not well of either and were somewhat dependent on her job.
Now, you’d think they’d work together, to end their miserable situation or something similiarly idealistic … You’re incorrect. Flocks of a feather don’t always band together.
Instead they develop a brutal competition, continuing the system they so suffer under.
Thoughts on Parasite – A Cycle on Repeat?
The Parks are mainly innocent in what is happening yet, they are not sympathetic and I would not read them as the “good guys”. Far from it. We don’t get to know much about their back story but in a way: Aren’t they the ones running are corrupt system? Chances are: They were born into it. And they don’t question it either. It is not due to their good nature and more due to their lack of mistrust that they become sad victim.
Theirs is a tale of caution and – from a more cynical point: of punishment. Yet: They come out mainly unscathed: None of theirs dies (at least not on screen?). They lose a house but, they’re probably wealthy enough to afford another. It doesn’t matter. Yet their fate is also not further described to us.
The circle continues. The castle stays up on its hill, the cave stays below.
And that’s not the only way the cycle continues. Near the end of the film we see the Kims’ son in a flash forward, showing his plans of the future: He plans to work hard, bekome rich and buy that house for himself and his family one day.
Now: This is only hypothetical and we don’t know if that’s going to be what’s actually going to happpen but it is an interesting thought, isn’t it?
It is almost as if there has been no learning experience given. No plan to change the situation overall. There is still a divide and instead of closing that for everyone, the plan is still very egocentrically constructed.
Thoughts on Parasite – A universal language
Now, as I’ve said, my view on things may be very euro-centric. Were talking about a Korean film after all, therefore my European view may not always fit.
I also have not talked about many symbols – like the rock or the light used for communication – and I have probably missed many others.
These subtelties usually come from difference in cultural background , preexisting knowledge (not everyone may have seen Metropolis, even though you SHOULD) and many other factors.
The weird thing about Parasite? It’s kind of universal. The divide between rich and poor is growing and one could say that the repercussions only adhere to a certain group. There is a sort of negligance and naivite among the privileged – and I’m saying this at a white girl in a European country, daughter of to medical doctors – to certain problems of less fortunate people. May it be due to not knowing better – I am certainly guilty of building up an ivory tower around myself – or not wanting to know better.
Parasite is an eye-opening experience. For everyone. It portraits an extreme world, that after some though is not so extreme after all .- it is a world we already live in.
It is horror movie, comedy, satire, social critique and many other things at once.
And it is most definitley worth a watch.
Thank you for following my ramblings all the way through this article! If you want more, you can check out some of the following posts:
Or check out my Social Media: