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