Analysis by Smriti Negi
“a comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains” –Bong Joon-ho, Director, Screenplay writer, 기생충, Parasite
The 2019 Drama/Mystery genre on the bitter reality of society is directed and written by Bong Joon-ho; and co-written by Jin Won Han, based on their own experiences. First South Korean Film to win Best International Film Award in Oscar and Best International Film Prize at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards.
The dramatic scenes are perfectly accompanied by the music provided by Jung Jae-il, the Korean Music Director; Cinematography by Hong Kyung-pyo and editing by Yang Jinmo.
The film was shot in Goyang Aqua Special Shooting Studio Set and the Park’s family house is an astounding work by the production team of Parasite. The sets were designed that it served the needs of the camera work.
This film proves that language is not a barrier to art, hence creating ART of any form (visual art forms- Film, music-eg.Kpop, artwork, etc) is the way to communicate beyond the language barrier. It is difficult for a non-American film to attain such popularity but this film has managed to gain genuine popularity in and outside the country. This film is a gem, screening the true face of today’s society.
A tale of two families with contrasting socioeconomic status and their dependence on one another for a different purpose. The film is a much-needed watch for all individuals to understand the thought process of the community.
There’s a lack of respect for the working class amongst the high social class, which is depicted throughout the movie with small scenes that might appear funny for once, but once one start to understand the meaning of the words and the intention behind it, he/she will get to know the everyday criticism the working class has to face in the society.
This movie is a masterpiece, it starts with the lives of Kim family, from them living in a lowly semi-basement, hunting for the WiFi connection, and opening windows for free bug-killing repellant. – and their everyday struggle, but at the end of the day, they are happy even in the worse situations.
The scholar stone which they receive at the beginning of the story is supposed to bring them material wealth and thanks to Ki-woo’s friend who brought hope in their life, with the stone, that plays a huge role in the story building.
Significance of the scene
By bluffing his capabilities and qualification to get the tutor’s job, the 1st Kim, Ki-woo enters the Park’s house and since then they saw it as a possibility to quickly scale up the societal ladder. A slowly, all Kim’s acquired a place in the Park’s house by eliminating the original worker in the house.
The Kim family lives in a shady, sewage-flooded and a semi-basement which cannot be called a home, but they are as smart as the Park’s. Their thirst for a possible well-off lifestyle made them do things, that questions their morality but as said, desperate times make people take desperate measures. Every day we neglect the efforts of the working-class people and this scene is a reality check for Kim family.
Bong Joon-ho, Director and Writer, wanted Parasite to end with a “Surefire Kill” and it’s the final gunshot to make sure someone is good and dead, and won’t come back alive.
The ending shows how devasted Kim’s family become after the death of the daughter, son’s brain injury, and Ki-taek’s disappearance. After Muk-kwang’s husband is killed, Ki-taek becomes the new resident of the bunker, everything has changed – Park’s moved out, a new German family shifted in, Ki-woo has recovered, Ki-taek lives in the bunker, but this doesn’t change the fact that there will always be a wealthy family living upstairs the poor people.
And the finest scene of the movie is dreamlike ~ where Ki-woo buys the house, expecting his father to walk out of the bunker, and everything ends with a happy note. Father and son hugging on the green lawn, reunion of father, son and mother.
But it does not end with a happy note, the next and the final scene is fascinating that shows Ki-woo is still here in the semi-basement (his home) in hope that one day he might be able to get his father out of the bunker.
The emotional parasite is hope, the thing that keeps us going, but sucks our marrow dry.E. Alex Jung, VULTURE
Analysis through mise-en-scene
|In this column, you note the shot number||In this column you describe significant aspects of character blocking, and notable acting moments.||In this column, you describe the camera distance and angle, any camera movement, the composition of the frame, depth of field. You might also note when a shot is similar to a previous shot.||In this column, you describe the editing and other shot transitions that you see.||In this column, you describe the use of sound. Consider dialogue, sound effects and music, if present.||In this column you analyze, ask questions, suggest interpretation, note oppositions or repetitions or similarities. You begin to do the work of writing your essay analysis by noting things that stand out to you.|
|1-2-3-4 0:00 – 0:14||Ki-woo starts climbing the mountain in search of his father (Ki-taek). From there he could get a great view of Kim’s house.||An extreme long-shot of Ki-Woo in the snowy forest is followed by a long-shot, establishing that he has finally climbed the top of the mountain. There are long shots to establish his current location and position, and a close-up of him rumbling through the bag for the binoculars. The cold tone is used to highlight the isolation and his sorrow.||The editing and transition are smooth.||Ki-woo is the narrator, the protagonist. Whereas the audience is the viewpoint character.||Opinion: Too many shots were not required in this scene. It could have been shot with a moving camera with a maximum of 2 shots.|
|5 0:15 – 0:30||That one day despite the cold, he felt like staying longer. He waits till midnight when everyone is asleep.||Everyday life of the people in the house is shown in fast-forwarded fashion. The camera is still, maintaining continuity and showing the transition from day tonight.||Best editing is done for this shot to transition from day to night with fast-forward. It’s smooth and not far-stretched.||Ki-woo is the narrator, the protagonist. Whereas the audience is the viewpoint character. There’s a light piano in the background to match with the narration and Ki-woo’s feeling.||A simple shot to analyze the relaxing, smooth life of a rich class family.|
|6-7 0:31- 0:39||There’s flickering of one of the lightbulbs in the house. Ki-woo is surprised to see this and once again use the binocular.||Long-shot of the house, There’s a mid-shot of Ki-woo to show his surprise expression.. Followed by a close-up to show the lightbulb in Ki-woo’s point of view (close and better view through binoculars)||The editing is smooth giving the viewer time to understand what’s happening.||The same music and narration is followed in the story.||This shot definitely is good, as it gives the viewer a glance of Ki-woo’s perspective. And Ki-woo’s narration is the cherry on top.|
|8-9-10 0:36 – 0:52||Ki-woo identifies a pattern of dash-dash-dot-dot with the flickering of a lightbulb. And realizes that someone inside the house is trying to communicate with the outsider. He soon understands that there’s a possibility that the person trying to communicate is his father.||A close-up of him trying to read the pattern through binocular ; An extreme-close-up of him realizing that this could be his father.||The same music continues. This time Ki-woo is shown speaking the pattern out-loud to record it for further interpretation.||It’s an intense scene and the beginning of Ki-taek’s point of view.|
|11 0:53 – 1:00||Ki-woo is travelling back to home via metro and on the way, he tries to decode the pattern. Repeatedly listening to the audio and trying to decipher the code.||The camera is slowly zooming into Ki-woo to give the viewer a feeling of being in a metro.||It’s a continuous medium close-up shot It typically favours the face, but still keeps Ki-woo in somewhat distant.||The same music continues. In addition to Ki-woo’s pattern audio recording on the phone, it’s like he’s enchanting the pattern constantly. There’s ambience sound in the background ~ metro & people.||Slowly SUSPENSE builds in the scene and Ki-woo|
|12-13 1:01-1:!2||He identifies the pattern to be similar to what he was taught in boy scout, which is MORSE CODE. He finally solves the code – it means SON and is really happy.||Over-The-Shoulder shot gives a glimpse of his phone and the morse code on it. Medium-close up shows his happy expression when he finally cracks the code||It’s smooth and different shots do not distract or cause any inconvenience to the viewers.||The same music continues. In addition to Ki-woo’s pattern audio recording on the phone, it’s like he’s enchanting the pattern constantly. There’s ambience sound in the background ~ metro & people.||Suspense finally comes to an end when he deciphers the pattern and he’s happy with getting his first lead to find his father. He’s finally genuinely happy for the first time in so long.|
|14 1:13-1:29||Ki-taek is introduced in this shot since after he ran from the police and went into hiding. Ki-taek is living in a shabby basement of Kim’s house and now the new German family’s house Ki-taek believes that no one other than Ki-woo can read this letter, as he was part of the boy’s scout. And he is writing it just in case, Ki-woo comes here one day.||Zoom out followed by Pan-shot to show the run-down surrounding and Ki-taek’s living conditions.||There’s basic editing as it is a continuous shot.||Now, Ki-taek is the narrator and the protagonist for this scene. Whereas the audience is the viewpoint character.||It gives you chills when Ki-taek speaks (ah-dul) SON.|
|15-16 1:30-1:52||Ki-taek is writing the letter in morse code. In the letter, he tells about himself, asks about his wife and tells that he’s doing fine.||The over-the-shoulder shot shows him writing the letter. Long shot of Ki-taek and the basement.||The shots seem abrupt but the narration of the letter covers up for it.||There are no dialogues but Ki-taek is the narrating the letter||Ki-tae looks inside the toilet for quite a few seconds, which makes the viewer anticipate what’s coming next. But, this shot shows how bored Ki-taek is, as even his own faeces interest him so much.|
|17-27 1:53-2:53||Ki-taek opens his heart about that day in the letter. He remembers it all- him killing the guy (who killed her daughter) and Mr Kim. And due to fear, he tries to run away from the house but soon realizes that he does not have a place to go. But finally decides to hide in Kim’s basement, the safest place, where it all started. Once again he descends the stairs. And all his effort in climbing the stairs/hierarchy goes into vain.||These shots are based on Ki-taek’s point of view. Starts with a pan-shot of the dead-man. Second is a medium shot, which highlights the two reactions – Mr Kim dying and people reacting to it behind him. The third is a Medium shot of Ki-taek’s bloody hand ( point of view ) Fourth is a long-shot of him running down the house staircase. The fifth is a medium-shot, depth shot with Kim-taek as focus in the first half, & then the people running away from the house are in focus. (depicts their fear from Ki-taek ) Sixth is a high-angle shot, with a CCTV capturing Ki-taek, which is apparently broken. Again it is a high-angle shot, with Ki-taek in focus and CCTV the focus in next. Seventh is a slow-moving-medium shot, depicting slow and careful stepping of Ki-taek entering the house through stairs. Eighth is a moving-long-shot of Ki-taek descending the stairs in Kim’s house. Ninth is a Close-up shot of Kim-taek taking the equipment to open the hidden chamber in the basement. The tenth is a low-angle shot of Kim-Taek closing the chamber in fear. The eleventh is a medium shot of Kim-taek sitting on the floor of the basement and crying and realizing what he has done.||The editing is really good, the whole scenario goes smoothly and engrosses the viewer into the story the whole time. The lighting/shots go from in light to darkness, showing the turmoil in Ki-taek’s mind and his life going downhill.||There are no dialogues but Ki-taek is the narrating that day when everything changed for him.||Pity: The dead man respected Mr.Kim but in the end, he was left to die there. And even in the end, a dog is seen feeding on the sausages in the same knife, with which he was killed.|
|28-34 2:54-3:35||Ki-taek regrets killing Mr Kim. Now, he’s stuck in the abandoned house with him feeding on maybe the last food item ( a fish can). Ki-taek regrets whatever he has done to Mr. Kim and Ms. Moon-gwang, so he gives her a proper burial to show respect to the dead.||Long-shot of basement to establish it’s empty. Medium-close-up shot of Ki-taek crying in front of Mr Kim’s poster. Medium close-up shot of the fish can, it shows that it’s the last food item for Ki-taek to survive on. Long shot of Ki-taek in the basement on the bed. Long-shot of Ki-taek carrying the dead Ms Moon-gwang. Extreme long-shot of Ki-taek giving her a burial.||The editing is smooth and in transition. It shows Ki-taek’s different moods very nicely.||The sound is of him narrating what happened when the house was abandoned. Of him crying on the day, he killed Mr.Kim. And other ambience sounds – him giving burial, eating, slow-breaths of him while walking in the empty house.||Viewers would definitely sympathise with Ki-taek by seeing his living conditions in the shot. Some shots are abrupt but they help tell the story in less time.|
|35-39 3:36-4:20||A new German family buys the house. And thanks to them Ki-taek gets food to eat every day. But due to the housekeeper, he needs to sneak in to get food late at night, when everyone’s asleep.||Low angle shot of the ceiling from the basement floor. (in Ki-taek’s point of view) Low-angle shot of Ki-taek listening from the top of the stairs in the basement. Pan-Long-shot of the house, and Ki-taek crawling outside from the basement. Close-up of the fridge. Long-shot of Ki-taek looking for food inside the fridge.||The editing is done precisely and is good, as all shots are in dark and the quality is still good. And even with too many shots there’s no disruption in the flow.||Sounds of steps to show that there’s a new person in the house.|
|40-44 4:21-4:56||Ki-taek is shown to give up on everything and just sit in bed all along. With the help of morse code pages inside the basement, he decided to write a letter to Ki-woo sending across the message – that he’s well to his family. And one day he finally wrote a letter and coincidently Ki-woo was present on that day for longer.||Long-shot of Ki-taek sitting on his bed once again. Bird’s eye view of Ki-taek typing the pattern in the letter. Over-The-shoulder shot for the same. Extreme long & Low-angle shot of the lightbulb flickering. Long-shot of Ki-taek sitting in the basement reading the letter by himself.||Editing is good as usual, showing all the emotions.||The same music from the first shot continues with Ki-taek’s narration.||The shots are beautiful, with a variety of angles – long, over the shoulder, extreme long shot and low angle.|
|45-46-47 4:57-5:!9||Ki-woo notes down the pattern and tries to decipher the letter.||Pan-Medium-Long-shot of Ki-woo running. Pan- Long-shot of Ki-woo entering the house.||The editing is smooth and there’s less transition in this.||The music continues. There’s an ambient sound of his rapid breathing due to running. Ki-woo’s mom asking if it’s him who’s back home. Other than that, it’s late at night so there’s no sound- in the dead night.|
|48-49-50-51 5:20 – 6:04||Ki-woo sleeps and promises his father that he’ll work hard and earn a lot to buy that house for them. He would get out of the shabby old lives to the new rich life ahead.||Bird’s eye view of Ki-woo sleeping on the sofa. Bird’s eye view of the river and the stone. Low-angle view of Ki-woo and the broker walking on the Porsche lane where the rich lives. Pan-Medium-Wide-Shot of them three walkings up the stairs of the house.||Ki-woo’s narration starts from here once again. Ki-woo is the narrator, protagonist whereas the audience is the observer.||There’s a mixture of dialogues and narration in these shots,|
|52-53 6:05 – 7:22||Ki-woo buys the house and asks his father just to walk out of the basement and embrace the sun and their new life. The shot ends with the transition to black… it shows a happy ending.||Medium-Wide-Shot of Ki-woo and his mother. Long-shot of the basement door and Ki-taek walking out of it. Pan-shot of Ki-taek walking outside towards the garden.||The editing is smooth and the black screen at the end shows that there’s a happy ending to the story.||There are Ki-woo’s narration and music. And when Ki-taek walks out of the basement the music stops , showing that it’s the end scene.|
|54 7:23-7:54||After the black screen, there’s another scene with Ki-woo’s semi-basement old home. This highlights that he’s still stuck in the old semi-basement and what the audience saw was just a dream, his dream. And the last song in the credits shows that it will take him 546 years to achieve that goal. And he asks his father to take care till then.||A pan-high angle shot to a medium shot of Ki-woo’s old home and Ki-woo. The film ends with Ki-woo having an eye-contact with the camera.||There’s editing for the scene showing outside of the window. It ends again with a black screen. A lot of editing for the dark scene.||the same music plays and finally ends with more deep tones, also with Ki-woo’s narration.||The last scene is continuous and highlights the fact that he’s still stuck there. And really shocks the viewers that he was just dreaming and that was different from the reality.|
The song in the credits is sung by one of the leading actors of the Parasite, Choi Woo-shik aka Ki-woo and the meaning of the lyric is deep and leaves one with sorrow ~ it will take Ki-woo 564 years to earn such a huge amount of money to buy that house.
This film is so captivating because it shows that a story doesn’t necessarily need to have a happy ending and this doesn’t give you false hopes. But it is very practical, true and personal in a sense that it gives the viewer a feel through the same emotions of anxiety, terror and discomfort.
The plot is crazy, difficult, confusing and so hard to bring out the reality and same emotions in the film but the execution in the film is highly commendable and this a success for the director. The editing is smooth, transitions are good and the story is told beautifully with a touch of comedy here and there. Some scenes have too many shots at once that might appear disturbing to a viewer, but that’s what an editor would want, to make the viewer feel uneasy.
The exceptional performance by all the actors in the film, it’s very convincing to the audience that they actually belong to the poor class. It’s well-directed, entertaining, exciting, thrilling, full of tension and surprising, this film has a whole package of emotions.
With a non-linear/ fragmented narrative, this film is full of unexpected twists.