We watched an electrifying film–Parasite. The grand finale is exactly that. Grand and final. The film is unabashedly Korean. Be prepared for English subtitles. Together with Roma, from last year, Hollywood is going international all out.
The film involved a family of con artists that gradually take over a modern mansion when the owners take a camping trip. The family is extremely poor. 4 people living in a tiny basement apartment sharing minimal food. All are unemployed. When the city fumigator comes by blowing awful chemical we assume they will be choking. No they want the assistance to kill stink bugs in their apartment Clearly, these are the wretched of the earth. Regularly a drunken passer-by urinates on the sidewalk just outside their apartment window. The con artists gleefully get drunk and make a horrible mess of the lavish home. Soon the occupiers find another man who has been secretly camping in the basement and from there, all hell breaks lose. I mean that literally.
The film is sort of an allegory of revolution. The tinder is provided by 2 groups of common people who end up attacking each other and the elites who own the house. When resentments explode they do not do so in an orderly way. You don’t want to be there when it happens. When the revolution comes, no matter what side of the Great Economic divide you occupy, you will deeply wish the revolution had started without you.
Spectacular explosions are triggered by innocuous micro-insults–like smell. But the results are hardly predictable. Forces are unleashed with astonishing power and speed. Modern technology, no matter how sophisticated, won’t help you. It will just pour fuel on the conflagration and the combustion will decimate all of the virtues. You will be done.
The massive walls around the house are insufficient to contain the bedlam. As almost everyone, except the current President of the United States, Donald Trump knows, even the most beautiful walls are inadequate. It does not matter how solid they appear. They won’t do the trick when the pot boils over. Even the most obsequious minors can be the instruments of uncontrollable rage when it is driven by an “idiot wind.” When the revolution comes it may not make any sense, but it will be real and dangerous nonetheless. It will be time to get out of there; if you can.
1 thought on “Parasite: Start the Revolution Without Me”
it is unclear what you mean by “korean.” language? smell?
revolution? even for you i would think it is more ambiguous than you state. after all the yanqui revolution with the vaunted constitution and laws you hold so dearly was the result of a revolution.
on the other hand, can it even be considered a revolution in the sense that ultimately the son chases the same capitalist dream with his fantasy about buying the fancy house? so there really was no revolution, no reset of values.
i think this is more of an allegory about film and fiction. he is essentially saying that all three “parties” are a fiction – the worker family, the host family, and the basement family. but “reality” makes the stories collide. thus the explosion, resulting in that fiction called a film.
the house is actually an “actor” in the film. or maybe a magical object of sorts, a fetish in both the marxist and freudian senses.
the commentary in the press about the movie has been predictable. this is presented as a surprise, which it is only from the point of view of the academy which never awarded best picture to an international film before.
one wonders indeed why the yanqui need the category at all. massive numbers of international films would have had to be awarded best film if that category had not been there.
otherwise, bong is a korean auteur. he has made multiple brilliant films, all easily of the quality of parasite.
and he really represents asian art film, particularly from south korea, taiwan, hong kong, japan, thailand, and china. art film, depending where you look, that has been around for 75 plus years at minimum.
the problem is that the west just has not been paying attention, being too wrapped up in a lot of action/hero trash, much of which the asians have been watching too.
the executive producer made this very understated but amazing statement in accepting the award. she said that the award came at a particularly appropriate moment.
i think she was referring both to the psycho yanqui president’s threat to nuke north korea and the larger asian coronavirus epidemic which has led to renewed racist phobias about asians, something deeply embedded in western history and ideology.
as for the race deal, smell is an important aspect of same. of course, various aspects of race baiting can be and are assimilated by the victims.
people forget what happened to korea during the korean war. the yanqui primarily, and secondarily the chinese essentially destroyed it. and i mean destroyed it. the yanqui dropped more bomb tonnage there than in the entire wwii. they also napalmed the place 10 years before they napalmed vietnam, ultimately leaving a divided country and 30-40,00 troops there. then they colonized it with christianity and capitalism. surprise surprise.
remember this is really the only asian country to really embrace christianity and they did so with a fervor.
for their part the chinese lost 1 million soldiers there and have been the only reason that the kim dynasty has survived decade after decade. the psycho yanqui president should not assume that the chinese will let him do whatever he wants to do in north korea, not after having invested blood, sweat, and tears into the survival of the vicious regime.
so we should contextualize a movie and an award such as these. bong’s brilliant art came out of that trauma.
by the by, the koreans have a real taste for horror, revenge, splatter movies. methinks that, in part, relates to the vicious assault and destruction of the korean war.