Parasite: The dichotomy of two worlds

Ever since winning four Oscars- Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay & Best International Feature Film; South Korean film Parasite has been the talk of the town recently. Many welcome Parasite victory as a diversity in Academy Awards & that faith has been restored in this prestigious institution. But is Parasite really worth all its accolades? It’s time to find out.

Directed by Bong Joon-ho, Parasite focuses on the inequality & social divides between the rich Park family & the poor Kim family. Kim’s family lives in semi-basement house in a poor neighbourhood of Seol. The family somehow make their ends meet by folding pizza boxes. But everything changed when Kim-woo(son) gets a job of tutoring the daughter of extremely rich & simple Park family.

Kim-woo ascends from his semi-basement to the lavish Park mansion & impresses his student Da-hye & her mother Park Chung-sook. Slowly he sets his sister, father & mother as arts teacher, driver & caretaker respectively as the previous employees are eliminated. Just like parasite, the Kim’s family prospects the Park family as resources to be used & drain them. Till then it’s an ordinary yet bizarre film & everything seems to be fine. The first half focuses on this story. But where does the masterstroke in Parasite lie? It lies on the second half & we are not ready for this.

The strength of Parasite lies in its screenplay as it acknowledges the power of storytelling. When the Park family is out for camping, the Kim’s family parties in their lavish household. No worries for them as the conflict is over. But this is where director Bong Joon-ho stages his attack. The doorbell rings….the voice is heard all over the house. We know something wrong is gonna happen but what exactly can’t tell. The doorbell scene happens exactly in the middle of the film. Genius, isn’t it?

The truth about the basement is discovered & viola!! The entire complexion of the movie changes in the second half-tone, tempo, genre & the relationship between characters. And what follows at the end of the basement is a whole new film. Again Bong Joon-ho is a genius. The basement is only shown for a couple of minutes in the first half but in the second half it becomes a central piece in the story. It’s one of those films like The Shining in which the house becomes a character itself & impacts all the characters psychologically.

Another masterstroke lies in the ending. Director Bong Joon-ho calls it a Surefire Killshot. It packs a gut-wrenching bleakness. Yes, the Kims are Parasite as they feed off the wealthy Park family but the lavishness of the Park’s wasn’t gonna become theirs. And ultimately that’s what Parasite is all about: the corrupting nature of wealth. The idea of wealth becomes both a fantasy & prison for the Kim’s family something they will never achieve. The opening scene introduces us through a look from the window of a semi-basement. The ending scene is same, albeit darker reminding us that the nightmare is real. The poor die poor & the rich die rich. We all want to be rich, own a huge mansion, a luxurious car & many more. But I guess, in the end we are all trapped where we are.


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