Hailed as one of the best movies of the year, Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite is rife with class tensions, chronicling the poor Kim family’s attempt to infiltrate the rich Park family’s household one person at a time. But one of the other important tensions in the movie is between order and chaos. While Parasite is expertly constructed by Bong and his team, it also seethes with unpredictability; it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen from one moment to the next. In a new interview for EW’s Awardist podcast, Bong explains how he pulled off that dynamic.
“This film expresses chaos in a very organized manner,” Bong says. “The creator can’t be the one in chaos. I have to very meticulously deliver this chaos for the audience, and I feel a lot of excitement from that process. The storyboard was actually published in Korea, and will be published in the U.S. as well. If you look at the storyboard, particularly with the climactic sequence, the storyboard is almost exactly the same as the finished film. That’s how organized and meticulous I was with creating that chaos. I hope the audience feels a lot of excitement from that particular cinematic moment. So I have a meticulous storyboard, but I always have my actors. They still remain alive and uncontrollable. They’re a wild beast, in a good way.”
Parasite is far from the only 2019 film to address class conflict, and certainly not the only one to engage in horrific displays of violence. But it’s different than something like Joker, whose depiction of violence made some critics worry it could inspire real-life terror. In the words of EW digital director Shana Naomi Krochmal, Parasite earns its violence. As Bong explains to her and Awardist columnist David Canfield, that’s because Parasite’s violence carries a strong current of sadness as well.
“I think it’s really about the basic approach you take with the violence more than how much blood you see or how many bodies you see on screen,” Bong says. “I really think that in Parasite there’s an underlying sadness regarding this violence throughout the entire film. Just before that climactic sequence, there are a couple scenes which present the opportunity to avoid the violence and the tragedy, but it’s an opportunity that none of the characters can hold onto. That reflects the sadness we all experience in modern times.”
To hear more from Bong, including his thoughts on Parasite’s Oscar chances, listen to the new episode of EW’s Awardist podcast below.