Tag: film

Squid Game

In his interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hwang Dong-hyuk, creator of the Netflix series Squid Game, clarified an inaccurate story circulating in the media about how he came to write and eventually acquire funding for the series:

“… there seems to be this common misunderstanding emerging that I wasn’t doing anything else and just focusing on Squid Game for about 10 years, and this made us a blockbuster success somehow. But that wasn’t really the case. In 2009, when it didn’t work out for me to get the necessary investment for the initial feature film piece I was envisioning, I put Squid Game aside. And I went on to create three other movies, and all of those were successful. So, I mean, it’s not like I didn’t do anything else in between and then had this sudden blockbuster success. It’s kind of been misconceived that way in some places, so I just wanted to clarify that a bit.”

This made me think of three things:

First, it’s interesting how the media can create false narratives by omitting information, whether intentional or not.

Second, this post by Cal Newport on Galileo. The timescale for Galileo’s scientific accomplishments was longer than we assumed from the history books, and that’s okay.

Third, believe in your work.

One Blink at a Time

Bauby and Claude Mendibil, a freelance book editor.

One day in the winter of 1995 Jean-Dominique Bauby, a journalist and editor of Elle magazine, suffered a cerebrovascular seizure. When he awoke in hospital twenty days later his mind was intact yet he was paralysed from head to toe save only his left eyelid. Doctors diagnosed him with locked-in syndrome but they found a way for him to communicate by reading from a French language frequency-ordered alphabet until Bauby blinked on the letter he wanted. A word could sometimes take two minutes to transcribe.

At some point Bauby decided to write a book the only way he could, one blink at a time. It took him on average 200,000 blinks to write The Diving Bell and the Butterfly which, in the English translation, amounted to 143 pages. It’s astounding to imagine how much collective effort that took, more so on Bauby’s part.

It would be too simplistic to say that if a paralysed man can write a book with one eye why can’t we write a book (or anything) with our two working hands? With all due respect Bauby was an editor on one of the most popular magazines in France so I think it’s unlikely he doubted that his book would be published though he may have doubted whether he could finish it. If Bauby never pursued a career in journalism yet could still write well I think it’s likely publishers would have saw a market for his memoir. How many quadriplegics write memoirs with one eye?

If Bauby can write a book in the very worst of circumstances I’m sure we can do it too in less than ideal but more than acceptable conditions.

What I’m Reading: Building the “Parasite” House

The Park House.

Last year Amazon sent me a free trial in the post for Amazon Prime. Since we in England only just entered a new lockdown and my Netflix subscription expired a few days before I took their offer and, among other things, watched Bong Joon-Ha’s Parasite. It won the Best Film Oscar two years ago and the Palme d’Or at Cannes, the festival’s most prestigious award, so I was curious to see what was so great about it. I loved it.

If you don’t know, Parasite is the story of a poor family, the Kims, trying to escape poverty by tricking a rich family, the Parks, into hiring them as tutors and assistants. And then things take a turn for the worst. The Parks’ house, where most of the film takes place, is spectacular and two years ago the website IndieWire interviewed Parasite’s director and production designer about the design of the house.

Turns out they built it themselves. Director Joon-Ho already envisioned how the characters would move within scenes in the house (known as blocking in film jargon) before it was built so above all that’s what he and production designer, Lee Ha Jun had to consider.

There’s also a lot of thematic depth that I admire in this film. Because the film is about class, the upper and the lower, floors and basements and staircases carry more resonance than they would in another film about a different theme. Joon-Ha says:

“[T]he semi-basement [where the Kim family live] is basically of the middle of high and low. There’s this fear that you can fall even further below but you still feel hope that you’re still half above-ground, so it really reflects this liminal space that they’re in, and the spaces in this film are even more compartmentalized and all connected through a very complicated staircase.”

Ki-taek Kim in the Kim family’s semi-basement home.

Lessons from the Screenplay also made an excellent video on Parasite’s themes (spoiler alert).