Revenge and Class Retaliation in PARASITE
An essay exploring themes in the Best Picture winning film from director Bong Joon Ho
I had no idea what Parasite was before I walked into the Ritz 5 in Philadelphia. The journey that led me to this particular theater was mostly instigated by my desire to see the Delaware River, and then the Internet told me the film was playing nearby. This was my first time in Philly, so my state of mind was already primed to be cognizant to the difference of culture. This coincidentally appropriate reality helped me connect with Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-sweeping picture on a level I hope to articulate in this essay. Obviously, there will be many spoilers ahead and my best advice is to watch this film dead cold. The trailer is safe, and I believe it was directed by Bong himself to avoid giving the movie away. As such, the trailer is here below to act as a buffer between this introduction and the spoiler-prone zone.
I enjoy talking about movies with my friends, like any normal American. It’s not unusual for people to go out of their way to bring up specific movies with me because there is a trust in the chain of recommendations that I’ve built up with other cinephiles. To see a film so carefully and naturally portray a story about manipulating that same kind of trust, I thought myself lucky. Blessed with material wealth. Since my viewing of it at the beginning of the year, I had been rooting for a Best Picture win and perhaps was a bit obnoxious in some bar conversations about why 1917 and Joker deserved the nominations but not the award. That the film would sweep the 4 major Oscars was not something I ever predicted.
The richness of Parasite’s emotional range is wonderfully immersive as much as it is subversive. From beginning to end, the viewer understands each character’s basic motivations and believes the choices they make. This is not a trivial feat in ensemble casts. Yet more clever is the finely-tuned political line drawn in the frames of the film in all its stunning humanity. South Korea is on…