I’m calling it right now: 2020 will be the year for Asians. Sure, we were given a rocky start with the whole coronavirus epidemic, but putting that aside, Asians are really the ones the world should keep an eye out for … and not just because racists assume we are carriers of disease.
On Feb. 9, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held its 92nd annual Academy Awards, honoring a year of standout films and noteworthy performances from actors, production design and costume designers to name a few. A-list stars such as Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio were in attendance, but one thing that made this year’s Oscars especially unique was the frequent camera pan to an average-looking Asian man. If one has not taken time to do the research, it would be easy to overlook this droplet of Asian diversity during the three-hour ceremony. However, little would you know that this man was Bong Joon-ho, the director of “Parasite,” which became the winner of four Oscars, including Best Picture.
Without giving too much away, “Parasite” tells the story of our perceived “American Dream,” where hard work can ultimately yield upward mobility in social class. Make no mistake, while this film can be interpreted as representing the “American Dream,” “Parasite” is very much a South Korean film. From the dialect spoken to the unfamiliarity of the living conditions many South Koreans are forced to dwell in, one can be quick to claim that this movie did not deserve to win Hollywood’s most prestigious award. But pulling back the layer of unfamiliarity, it is easy to see why “Parasite” is a technically and emotionally groundbreaking piece of cinema.
Everyone loves a rags to riches tale, and we could be here forever listing out films with those undertones. “Parasite” most definitely falls under this category, but what’s so brilliant about this film is that it presents itself in a way where nothing is certain, and you cannot expect what’s to come. One of the movie’s main themes is the fact that sometimes the best plans are the ones unplanned, and Bong perfectly embodied that within a two hour frame. Watching this film for the first time, I guarantee you cannot map out the next moves of these characters, and rightfully so—the ending is one that is best experienced with no expectations.
Aside from storytelling, there is so much that “Parasite” blessed our eyes and ears with. From the immaculate cinematography to its flawless casting, it seemed like every aspect of this film was executed with perfection in mind. “Parasite” became and remains one of the few films not reliant on A-list actors to catapult it into success. Simply hearing talk about “Parasite” is not enough to grasp it wholly, which makes watching it for the first time even more satisfying. Of course, due to its success at the Oscars, many are becoming more interested in the film now, and rightfully so.
Historically speaking, “Parasite” is the first non-English film to win Best Picture, and we can have a conversation about what this means for minorities and Asians in particular. However, putting that aside, we have a movie depicting a universal struggle presented in a manner that is both intriguing and beautiful. At the heart of it, it may be a Korean film, but the message it carries extends beyond, which is why we Americans can relate so much to it.
I can sit here and talk for hours about how obsessed I am with this film, but instead I strongly recommend you take any free time you have and invest it towards watching “Parasite” for the first time, if not again. “Parasite” is currently available nearly everywhere for your convenience. Additionally, and you didn’t hear this from me, but it is available to be downloaded in ways other than the conventional *wink, wink,* that way rich or poor, we all can bear witness to the masterpiece that is “Parasite.”
Toan Truong is an Opinion Intern for the 2020 winter quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.