Director Bong Joon Ho remarked on his inspiration behind the project, “Cinema was black and white in the very beginning. There was a time when films were only in black and white, and even throughout the 40s and 60s when color films came into the picture, there were numerous films still in black and white. Black and white is the origin of cinema. 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. I always had this desire to create a black and white film which was shared by my cinematographer Hong Kyung Pyo; so for the first time, we digitally changed my film Mother into black and white after it was completed and released. Thankfully, it doesn’t require a huge budget to do so in this digital age, so the cinematographer re-filtered the entire film into black and white, meticulously adjusting the contrast and density for every shot with my help.”
He added, “I’m extremely happy to present Parasite in black and white and have it play on the big screen. It will be fascinating to see how the viewing experience changes when an identical film is presented in black and white. I watched the black and white version 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. 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. I had many fleeting impressions of this new version, but I do not wish to define them before it is presented. I hope everyone in the audience can compare their own experiences from the color version and find their own path to Parasite in black and white.”
In Bong’s exhilarating film, a threadbare family of four struggling to make ends meet gradually hatches a scheme to work for, and as a result infiltrate, the wealthy household of an entrepreneur, his seemingly frivolous wife, and their troubled kids. How they go about doing this—and how their best-laid plans spiral out to destruction and madness—constitutes one of the wildest, scariest, and most unexpectedly affecting movies in years, a portrayal of contemporary class resentment that deservedly won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or. As with all of this South Korean filmmaker’s best works, Parasite is both rollicking and ruminative in its depiction of the extremes to which human beings push themselves in a world of unending, unbridgeable economic inequality.