Hot off its big win at the SAG Awards and en route to, gods of cinema willing, another one at this year’s Oscars, Bong Joon Ho’s international sensation Parasite is returning to (very) select U.S. theaters — with a new twist (on top of the many twists already present in its zig-zagging narrative).

Distributor Neon will screen a black-and-white version of Parasite in a handful of New York and Los Angeles theaters, beginning with Film at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater on Jan. 30, followed by a run at the Francesca Beale Theater from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6. Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater will also present the new version of the film on Jan. 31.

PARASITESong Kang-ho
Credit: NEON

Releasing a movie in black and white has apparently been a longstanding ambition for Bong, who previously screened such a version of his 2009 film Mother at the Mar Del Plata International Film Festival in 2013.

“Black-and-white is the origin of cinema,” the South Korean director said in a statement. “Although I became a filmmaker in the 2000s, I idealize the beautiful black-and-white films by Renoir, Fellini, Kurosawa, John Ford, and the beautiful cinematography of Gregg Toland [Citizen Kane, The Grapes of Wrath].

“I watched the black-and-white version [of Parasite] twice now, and at times the film felt more like a fable and gave me the strange sense that I was watching a story from old times,” he continued. “The second time I watched it, the film felt more realistic and sharp as if I was being cut by a blade. It also further highlighted the actors’ performances and seemed to revolve more around the characters.”

Whatever his reasons, Bong is now part of a mini-trend of filmmakers de-colorizing their films. Black-and-white cuts of George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road and James Mangold’s R-rated Wolverine send-off Logan (dubbed Logan Noir) have been released on home media, with the latter receiving a limited theatrical release.

Parasite has been on a roll since premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where it took the top prize, the Palme d’Or. The film is up for six Oscars at this year’s Feb. 9 ceremony, including Best Picture and Best Director for Bong, and an HBO series adaptation is currently in the works. It’s also been a massive box office success across the globe, breaking several records for non-English language films and taking in more than $140 million worldwide.

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Parasite (2019 movie)
With 'Parasite,' Bong Joon-ho delivers a serrating, brilliantly stylized portrait of class and fate and family in modern-day Korea.
  • Movie
  • Bong Joon Ho