Parasite

Parasite ★★★★★

I finally got around to watching Parasite, and even though it is now 2020, it really got me thinking about the films of the past decade—the good and the bad—and more specifically, the ones we will Remember. And I’m talking Remember with a Capital R. The ones that, fifty years down the line, we will acknowledge as not only great movies, but the ones that truly encapsulate the zeitgeist of the time in which they were made. Fifty years from now, how will we remember the twenty-teens, and through which films?

It’s easier to look back. When I think of movies that perfectly encapsulate the time in which they were created, I first think of Apocalypse Now, and the way in which it captured the Vietnam War and the extreme fears and dangers that accompanied it in the eyes of the American public. I think that the Vietnam War created the most vehemently emotional and resonant films of all time. But this trend didn’t begin in the Vietnam War. We can look at movies from the 1930s—from City Lights to Robin Hood—obsessed with wealth, income disparity, and the ways in which it can corrupt or enlighten. The 1940s brought with it films about war, yes, but also extended to films like Vertigo, which came out much later (in 1958), which dealt with the emotional fallout of WWII and its lasting effects on veterans (specifically) and American society (holistically). I could choose films like this from each decade. But the bottom line is: We reflect our fears in our art. We create in order to cope. We consume the art that most adeptly makes sense of the world around us.

In some ways, are all movies impacted by the time in which they were made? Perhaps. Probably. But I think that the ones that most artfully, most accessibly, and most intimately tackle those issues are the ones that we will Remember.

Parasite is one of those films.

At the Golden Globes, Bong Joon Ho said, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Parasite is a Korean film, and perhaps it seems to depict uniquely Korean problems, but I firmly believe that it is a universal film. It can be so without erasing the culture and country that sculpted its creation. Parasite tackles issues that are, unfortunately, present around the world: extreme income inequality, lack of inter-class mobility, and, most importantly, blindness to the plights of The Other. It tackles selfishness, hopelessness, shame, and greed.

Jordan Peele attempted to tackle all of these themes in Us, I think, but did so in what I thought to be a messy way. Parasite is meticulous in its execution. The characters are fully fleshed-out and sympathetic. Everyone is a villain, and no one is. The film is perfectly paced. It climbs up a latter and grips each rung. The metaphors are not only warranted, they are the nerve system of the film. They wind around the imagery, plot, and characters, and make them electric.

We’ve seen this story before. It is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportion. It is filmed with the deliberation and attention to detail of the Great Directors. It haunts us like a Hitchcockian nightmare. It relays a narrative that, for so many, reflects experiences that are painfully familiar. Yet Parasite captures it all in the most human way possible. It encapsulates the decade but doesn’t seem like a summary. It’s a capsule for the future, and because of this, I can say with certainty that it will be Remembered.

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