"Parasites": An exclusive interview with the film's director
Photo: GettyImages, Yoon Chang-son
- Cinema News
After winning the Golden Palm, he opened the Jerusalem Festival and before he (probably) won the Oscar, "Parasites" comes to Israel. In a special interview, co-creator Bong Jun-ho talks about class gaps, graphic violence, Netflix and vegetarianism
Avner Shavit, Kan12/08/2019
When Korean director Bong Jun-ho finished watching for the first time in his new movie, "Parasites," he said to himself - "My God, what will I tell the marketing people when they ask me what genre does this movie belong to?" Even today, he has no answer, and when someone asks him this question - he just gets up and runs away, he says.
Indeed, it is hard to decide which slot to catalog "Parasites," which is up for screenings this weekend, two weeks after opening the Jerusalem Film Festival. Is the story of the poor family that each of its sons infiltrating into a rich family's home is a black comedy, a snap satire, a sad social drama or a breathtaking psychological thriller? What is certain, the encounter between the two families, the one that has everything and the one that has nothing, creates chaos, which the skilled filmmaker describes in a calculated and sophisticated way, and by an artist who turns the result into a virtuosic and sweeping creation.
One more thing: Since the worldwide premiere of "Parasites," as part of the Cannes Film Festival's official competition two and a half months ago, it has become one of the most talked about films of the year. On that day, Tarantino's "There were times in Hollywood" premiere took place in the Riviera, and the Korean hit stole the show from him. A few days later, Bong Jun-ho also plundered from his American counterpart the Golden Palm, bringing Korea to the first in its history the prestigious decoration.
Siamese twins. Bong John-ho and Tarantino (Photo: Image Bank)
Quentin Tarantino and Bong Jun-ho (Photo: Yoon Chang-son, GettyImages)
This coming week, Tarantino and Bong Jun-ho will meet again - the two films are probably Siamese twins that cannot be separated, as they will both rise to screens in Israel. Which one to run to see? Why not both? After all, after a period of time, there is a real cinematic celebration (plus air-conditioning) in our halls. how fun.
I met Bong Jun-ho the day after the premiere of "Parasites" in Cannes, together with a group of journalists from all over Europe. The filmmaker is known as a kind and welcoming person, and the enthusiastic reactions to his new film have further enhanced his mood. The director became famous in the previous decade thanks to a series of masterpieces he directed in his homeland - "Murder Memories," "The Host," and "Mother." Following them, he created two international productions, "The Ice Train," an English-language adaptation of a French graphic novel, which caused a dispute between him and producer Harvey Weinstein and failed at the box office; And Netflix-produced "Okja", still available on the streaming service, and was particularly fond of animal rights organizations for the way it exposed the horrors of the meat industry.
Unlike both of these films, "Parasites" is a completely Korean film - all the actors in it are the director's people, and the dialogues are all in his language. "I don't have and I've never had any kind of career plan," he says. "It's not that I sat down and said to myself, 'Now I will make a Korean movie.' You have to remember that there were a lot of Korean elements in Okaja, too, so I don't see 'Parasit' as a dramatic comeback to my homeland. "The volume of production and the budget were much smaller this time than the Okeja and the Ice Train, and closer to the products I did before in Korea. From that point of view, it was a benefit to me, because it was easier to work in a smaller volume."
the winner. Bong John Ho (Photo: Image Bank)
Bong Jun-ho (Photo: GettyImages)
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South Korea is regarded as a rich and developed country in the world. Therefore, it is amazing to see in the film under what horrible conditions the poor family lives, and how great its struggle for survival is.
"Most of the world knows Korea through the K-POP and the like, so it has its perception of sparkle and joy, but not everything in Gangam style. Of course there are other parties as well. Although we also have a very rich layer, but precisely because its wealth is so excessive The gaps between her and the rest are so big. I don't think it's something that characterizes Korea, but it exists in all western countries. This question reminded me of what I felt when I watched half a jubilee in French hatred of Mathieu Kasovitz. Until then, I thought it was France. Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees. I didn't know it had poor, derelict suburbs and I had a cultural shock. "
What was the inspiration for a film-rich family?
"I think it represents the new generation of rich - those who don't sit on old money, but new money, high-tech, etc. They are young and educated, and they look sophisticated - refined people with class, not the typical 'bad guys' and greed. "Slowly, the movie takes off their mask and reveals how much they despise those who are different from them. That's also what creates the conflict here."
You use the body odor theme as a key element to illustrate the distaste of the rich from the poor. Where did this idea come from?
"Smell is a very intimate thing. It's something that only you and your relatives share, and it's not something that many talk about with others. It's very rare that rich and poor share the same space - they have other cars and other restaurants, and also separate flights in two different departments, businesses and tourists. In the film, an extraordinary situation is created in which they are in the same space, and then a rare event happens: they smell each other, and I thought that focusing on it would be a good way to illustrate the intimacy that is created between them and everything it brings with it. "
Can you ask what background you come from?
"I was and remains a classic middle class. Today I live in a beautiful, spacious apartment, I have nothing to complain about, but it is only one-sixth the size of the movie-rich family home."
In wealth and poverty. From "Parasites" (Photo: PR)
Parasites (Photo: Cannes Film Festival, PR)
The director says that as a teenager he was a cinematic mouse and wanted to make films, but his parents opposed it. He went to study sociology, but always plotted to develop a cinematic career, which did happen eventually. His major influences, he said, are the Korean classic "The Servant," "Jean-Pierre Melville's" Shadow Army, "Claude Chevrolet's" The Beast Will Die, "Hitchcock and De Palma's Works, and" The Force of Evil, "the film noir Abraham Polonsky's Mufti, from which he drew the inspiration to use camera movements to describe how the characters are sinking into the abyss. "The only way to stop diving down is through money. It's the sad reality," he said.
Do you see "parasites" as a political movie?
"There are political messages in my films, but not for that I do them. All I want is to tell a story, and make a good movie."
It wasn't until watching the second movie that I realized how well it was built, how much each gun in the third act already existed in the first act. How difficult was it to write it this way?
"Thanks for noticing it, it was important to me. Already when I wrote the script, I thought about the directing, and what it would look like on screen. I think the script is split in two: the first part progresses fairly predictably, with a pretty clear structure, but all that is just In a pop-up for the absolute blast to come in the other half. For such an explosion, she had to prepare a very solid plot ground. "
The ending of the movie is quite violent. Is what we see is what was written and filmed? Or have you decided to refine the violence in the editorial room?
"I did not change anything in editing, and went according to the original plan. I also do not agree with you that the suffix is particularly violent. True, there are difficult scenes, but do not see horrific things. There are no broken ribs or anything like that, and it is no coincidence: In such cases, he says "it's makeup, it's effects" and moves away emotionally. The more blood on the screen, the less the fear of the audience diminishes. I think the emotional effect of the suffix is because things happen so quickly that the audience Having trouble digesting them, and that reinforces the power of what's going on. "
The first Korean to win the Golden Palm. Bong John Ho in Cannes (Photo: Image Bank)
Bong Jun-ho (Photo: GettyImages)
On the other hand, there is a lot of humor in the film.
"Yes, I was very pleased yesterday to hear that the audience is laughing all the time. However, I think some of the nuances are lost in translation."
"Let's say - ten percent. Nothing to do, as much as we work on the translation and subtitles and are constantly improving, something will always be lost. The Korean audience will laugh much more from the film."
Also in life you are a pretty funny person, who loves to laugh.
"Without humor, I can't. It's a reflex for me. But you know, every joke has something sad. In Korean they say you can tell a joke and laugh at it, but when you come home at night and think about it, it'll stab you."
No spoilers! From "Parasites" (Photo: PR)
Parasites (Photo: Cannes Film Festival, PR)
You had a dispute with Harvey Weinstein about the production of "The Ice Train". What did you think of everything that had happened around him for the past two years?
"Although I worked with him on the 'Ice Train', our relationship was only brief and professional. For me, he is still someone I see on the news, not a person with personal feelings for him."
How was the experience of making a movie for Netflix?
"Okjah was a great experience. Streaming is a great way to watch movies and Netflix contributes a lot to the industry. If I have another chance to work with them, I would love to. Okha 'on the screens in Korea. "
How many people became vegetarian or vegan following the movie?
"I don't know, there must have been some that happened to them. In any case, that's not the main message I wanted to convey. I eat meat and think it's through nature. What I've come out against is the manner of the capitalist and unrestrained meat industry."
Worth the wait for the second half. From "Parasites" (Photo: PR)
Parasites (Photo: Nachshon Vered Cape Films, PR)
"Parasites" talks a lot about father-son relationships. What is your child doing?
"Unfortunately, he finished his film degree and has already directed a short film."
Why are you sorry?
"Because I know how hard it is to engage in the field."
If you may ask, what does the tattoo say on your arm?
"Wife and son."