By Jennie Kim ’20
The historic success of the South Korean film “Parasite” sends a strong message to the film industry that non-English language films can be just as powerful as English language films.
“Parasite” recently made history at the Oscars to become the first non-English film to win Best Picture. The film also won Best Original Screenplay, Best International Feature Film, and Best Director. Its four Oscar wins represent a huge breakthrough for international films, especially for the Asian community.
“Parasite” is a dark comedy satire about the poor Kim family that infiltrates the household of the wealthy Park family. Although the movie was a hit, there is a bigger message of how divided the social classes are in South Korea and around the world. I am purposely avoiding the details, though; Director Bong Joon Ho has stated that it is better for moviegoers to walk in without knowing anything about the film in order to have the best experience.
Since its release nearly a year ago, “Parasite” has won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May. This year, the movie also won a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award, BAFTA award, and most recently, four Oscars.
Winning four Oscars at the 92nd Academy Awards was a significant milestone in the film industry. When Bong Joon Ho accepted the Oscar for Best Director, he ended his enthusiastic speech with “I will drink until next morning,” which led to viral tweets and memes about his response.
Most importantly, for the first time in 92 years, “Parasite” become the first non-English language film to take home Best Picture. During the acceptance speech for Best Picture, producer Kwan Sin Ae said via translator, “I’m speechless. We never imagined this to ever happen. We are so happy. I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now. I express my deepest gratitude and respect for all the members of the Academy for making this decision. Thank you.”
Since the Oscars ceremony, theaters have re-released “Parasite” and this has boosted its ticket sales. Despite the hesitancy some people have toward viewing a film with English subtitles, the film is now reaching a larger audience in the United States. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film’s worldwide gross to date is $205 million, which includes $44.49 million in U.S. ticket sales.
However, not everyone is apparently pleased with the film’s success. At a Feb. 20 rally in Colorado, President Donald Trump criticized “Parasite” for winning Best Picture. According to CNN, Trump said, “We’ve got enough problems with South Korea with trade, on top of it they give them the best movie of the year?” Trump’s response prompted Neon, the distributor of “Parasite,” to simply tweet, “Understandable, he can’t read.”
This writer’s suggestion: Judge the film yourself – and in the process you’ll understand why it is historically significant that The Academy is now more open to honoring foreign language films in the way it has with “Parasite.”
Photo Credit: Washington Post