‘Parasite’ makes history

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 at 8:00 PM

The Oscars are always one of the most viewed television events of the year. It’s also the easiest way for filmmakers from around the world to gain recognition for excellence in their craft. On Feb. 9, visionary director Bong Joon-ho made history when his 11th feature, “Parasite,” won the prestigious Academy Award for Best Picture. The first international film to win the prize, it would beat out Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood,” Sam Mendes’ “1917” and Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” among others. Joon-ho’s “Parasite” also became the first South Korean film to receive an array of accolades.

“Parasite” is a dark comedy/thriller that follows a lower-class family as they struggle to stay afloat. Determined to move up in status and to make money, they get themselves jobs working for a higher-class family. As more members of the family pose as people in various positions, such as a driver, housekeeper, art therapist and tutor, they have to pretend that they don’t know each other, but must also work together to keep their jobs.

The Best Picture history wasn’t the only thing that made the film special. Joon-ho (“Snowpiercer,” “The Host,” “Okja”) was also given the Academy Award for Best Director in the first time a South Korean film was nominated in that category.

 “Parasite” also took home Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film. The film was also nominated for Best Film Editing and Best Production Design, but lost to “Ford v Ferrari” and “Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood” respectively.

The Oscars weren’t the only place that “Parasite” wowed audiences and film critics alike. At the Cannes Film Festival in France, the film won the Palme d’Or, the highest prize given at the festival. It was the first time a Korean film won the honor (and by unanimous vote. no less). 

Joon-ho’s cinematic masterpiece winning is incredibly important. Cinema is meant to be enjoyed by all people from all walks of life, no matter where they hail from or where they are based out of. Art is meant to be shared, and the “Parasite” accolades are proof that there’s so much more out there that needs to be seen beyond our national borders. During his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, Joon-ho stated this in the most beautiful way possible: “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” 

Joon-ho gave all of his acceptance speeches in his native language, an act that’s a stand all its own. Systemic racism has always existed in cinema, and the fact that people won’t go to see a film simply because it’s not presented in English, or if there are subtitles at the bottom of the screen, is silly. Joon-ho is making valiant efforts to bridge the gap between borders, and we as film buffs couldn’t been happier. 

“Parasite” will pave the way for future international cinema to come into the American mainstream. 

Tags: parasite

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