Parasite has made history as the first Korean film to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars.
With five additional Academy awards nods, four BAFTA nods and a Golden Globe and Palme d’Or already in the bag, it’s one of the most talked about films of the year.
Here’s everything you need to know about Bong Joon Ho’s black comedy.
Image: It’s a story of haves and have-nots, told through two families. Pic. Studio Canal
What’s Parasite about?
Parasite is a social satire about two families, the poor Kim family and rich Park family.
The Kims live in a squalid basement flat, while the Parks lead an Instagram perfect life.
Image: The film has a legion of fans who use the #BongHive. Pic. Studio Canal
Image: The Park family have an aspirational lifestyle in a gorgeous house. Pic. Studio Canal
But when the Kims are gifted a ‘scholars rock’ (Korean stones that are believed to bring wisdom) their fortunes start to change.
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Led by the son of the family, who becomes a tutor for the Park’s daughter, the Kims infiltrate the lives of the wealthy family one by one, telling the odd lie along the way.
Image: Couldn’t we all do with a scholars rock in our life? Pic. Studio Canal
However, just when the Kims start getting used to the added perks of their new employers, things take a very dark turn.
Capitalism, greed and class discrimination are the stand out themes.
Who’s the director?
It’s the seventh feature film from South Korean director Bong Joon Ho.
The 50-year-old filmmaker is known for his political commentary, black humour and long-takes which incorporate multiple on-screen happenings.
Image: Bong Joon-Ho shared the best director prize with Sam Mendes (1917) at the Critics’ Choice Awards
Mixing genres, playing with rhythm and sudden mood shifts are also Bong trademarks.
Bong already achieved mainstream success with 2017 adventure Okja, about a genetically modified superpig, and 2013 climate-change disaster movie Snowpiercer.
Parasite has now firmly established him as one of the world’s leading filmmakers.
What’s the inspiration?
Bong came up with the idea for Parasite in 2013, prompted by the notion that “everyone loves to spy on the private lives of strangers”.
Bong himself was briefly a maths tutor for a rich family when he was a student, but unlike Ki-wood in the film, he was fired after just a few months. He says it’s because he was “horrible at maths”.
Image: The lives of the rich and beautiful will always be of interest to others. Pic. Studio Canal
Image: Bong was once a tutor himself, but it didn’t work out. Pic. Studio Canal
Bong doesn’t specifically label any of his characters as villains, and the identity of the ‘parasites’ of the title is open to interpretation.
In his director’s statement he calls it “a comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains, all leading to a violent tangle and a headlong plunge down the stairs”.
Is it subtitled?
Yes. The film is based in South Korea, and the actors speak Korean throughout.
Image: The film is in Korean, with subtitles throughout. Pic. Studio Canal
The film did not qualify for the best picture category in the Golden Globes for this very reason.
The Globes stipulate each nominee must feature “more than 50% English dialogue”.
Who’s in it?
The film stars the director’s frequent collaborator, actor Song Kang Ho as, Ki-teak – an unemployed and unambitious 50-something, and patriarch of the Kim family.
Image: South Korean actor Song Kang Ho leads the cast. Pic. Studio Canal
Other lead cast members include Jang Hye-jin as his supportive wife Chung-sook; Choi Woo-Shik as his college-age son Ki-wood and Park So-Dam as his cynical twenty-something daughter Ki-jung.
Despite their critically acclaimed performances, none of the stars were nominated in any of the Oscar acting categories. The inevitable language barrier is likely to have impeded their chances.
What are people saying about it?
The film’s been a massive hit with audiences and critics in the South Korea (where it came out in May) and the US (where it came out in October – four months ahead of the UK release date).
Critics have called it a “masterpiece”, hailing Bong as “one of the best filmmakers in the world” and some have even compared him to master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock.
Parasite had the most successful opening weekend in America since La La Land in 2016, making it the best-ever performing foreign language film at the box-office.
It has since grossed nearly $150m (£115m) worldwide.
Movie aggregation website IMDB have scored it 8.6, based on over 140,000 user ratings.
Rotten Tomatoes say it’s 99% fresh, based on 350 reviews.
And what is #BongHive?
The movie has spawned a host of memes on social media, with fans of the film adopting the hashtag #BongHive.
Initially set up by three young writers, the film’s distributor Neon has wasted no time capitalising on the social following.
Image: Social media has helped spread the movie far and wide. Pic. Studio Canal
Merchandise has followed, including T-shirts, hats and a ringtone.
Bong, who’s not on social media, says he’s grateful for the positive response.
Are they making a TV show?
HBO are planning to turn the film into an English language TV series according to Variety, with Bong and Vice director Adam McKay heading up the production.
Image: Fans will be pleased to hear there’s likely to be a TV show to follow. Pic. Studio Canal
Bong told Deadline he wanted to cram in all the ideas that wouldn’t fit into the two-hour film.
It’s not yet known whether this expanded Parasite production will be set in America or South Korea.
Will it win an Oscar?
It stands a very good chance, and has been nominated for six Oscars – best film, best director, original screenplay, film editing, production design and best international feature film.
It’s made history as the first Korean movie to ever receive a nod for best picture.
Only 11 international films have ever been nominated in the Academy’s most high-profile category in its 92 year history.
Should it win – it will be the first foreign language film to ever do so.
It’s also the first Korean film to be nominated for best international film.
Bong is the only BAME filmmaker to make the best director category.
The Oscars are held in Los Angeles on Sunday 9 February.
What does Bong think of that?
Bong says he watched nominations at home on his tablet and was particularly anxious during the best picture category as Parasite wasn’t announced until last of a list of nine.
Image: Bong’s wait was worth it, with Parasite getting six Oscar nods. Pic. Studio Canal
It was read out after 1917 and Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood as presenters always reveal movies in alphabetical order.
He called it big event for the Korean film industry, and a rare and precious opportunity for Asian cinema as well.
Bong said he hopes it will serve as inspiration for a lot of people.
What other big awards has it already won?
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and was unanimously voted the winner of the Palme d’Or. It’s the first Korean film to win the prestigious prize.
Image: Couldn’t we all do with a scholars rock in our life? Pic. Studio Canal
It won the Golden Globe for best foreign language film too.
And Bong shared the best director prize with Sam Mendes (1917) at the Critics’ Choice Awards, as well as taking best foreign language film.
Aside from Oscars, what else could it add to its haul?
It’s now in the running for four BAFTAS – best film, best director, best original screenplay and best film not in the English language.
The BAFTA ceremony takes place at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 2 February.
When’s it out?
Parasite is out in around 150 UK cinemas from Friday 7 February, and will then be released in around 300 cinema from mid-February.
It will come to Amazon Prime Video in the summer.
Source : Sky News