Academy Award winner Bong Joon-Ho discusses Parasite and the gap between rich and poor with The Talks. (full interview)
+ On if he would describe himself as a pessimist: I don’t think I’m pessimistic at every point, but I want to be honest in the face of the reality that stands in front of us. With Parasite, my thinking was that mankind’s achieved such great development — like the mobile devices we see in front of us but if we think about the past 30 years, has the gap between rich and poor dissipated? Not really. I have a son myself, do I think things are going to improve in his generation? I don’t really think that either. That is the source of a lot of fear, actually. So I wanted to be honest with that fear and sadness and really deliver that.
+ On not portraying the stereotypical image of wealthy Korean families: Right, especially in Korean TV shows and in particular soap operas, the conventional villains are so conspicuously greedy and treat the people below them with violence and incredible cruelty and just crush them. You know, in 1995 when I first saw Matthieu Kassovitz’s La Haine I was very surprised to see areas like that in Paris. I didn’t even know the banlieue existed. When I thought of Paris I always thought of the Champs Elysées and everyone drinking wine and listening to accordion music. Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is another example. Korea is a very rich, very developed country but when a country becomes so wealthy, relatively that gap between rich and poor widens.
+ On making a film for the cinema again after working with Netflix: When we made Okja, the cinematographer and I talked about how we should make people who watch this on their smartphones just give up watching the film; we wanted them to feel like they had no choice but to go to the theater or at least use a big screen projector to watch this film. We framed a lot of the shots so they would have no choice but to give up, like having an extreme long shot where the girl is really tiny on screen. So, I don’t think streaming is bad, and I would like to work with Netflix again, but ultimately the cinema provides the best film-watching experience because it is the only method and platform where the viewer can’t press the stop button.
+ On going back to a smaller scale after Snowpiercer and Okja: I do feel I have come back to films of this size, this scale and budget, like Mother and Memories of Murder. Coming back to a smaller film gave me a lot of peace and made me feel I could pay more attention to the detail of the film. And because Snowpiercer and Okja had very high budgets, there are definitely other things as a director that I have to pour my energy into with those big budgets. With Okja, for example, here are around 320 super-pig shots, and I lost an incredible amount of energy on those visuals. For Parasite, I was very happy using that energy to pay attention to each and every character and the details of this film. [...] I wanted to create a very delicate and detailed film where you would feel like you could even smell every single character. I consider myself a genre director. I think there is a lot of possibility for genre films to become political and there is that tradition within sci-fi. Since both Snowpiercer and Okja had very strong sci-fi colors, you could say they were very political films.
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