In my 3 years of Film Studies, one of my favorite concepts gave me an idea. Rather than a generic film review, you my readers are going to learn about Film Waves and the South Korean New Film Wave from their film Parasite (2019) by Bong Joon Ho. This idea really comes from my own respect of South Korean Dramas and I believe one can take a look at this unique film space and learn much from it.
What's a Film Wave?
Simply put, its a creative reaction to any cultural, political or any major changes within a country through a film movement. Something major happen in your country? films reflecting/reacting to it? and there, a Film Wave. Or something happened again or the last Film Wave isn't reflecting what it should? Tada a Film New Wave (and even in parts of South America a New-New Wave).
Most of these films (in fear of retribution), convey messages by just throwing shade, using symbols and metaphors in calling out the issues of their society. These films aren't afraid of pissing off a people to get their message across.
Most importantly, its aim as a film is to not only entertain their viewers, but rather to educated them, to leave the audience questioning their reality rather than being comfortable with the status quo.
South Korea's Film New Wave
With respect to South Korea's Film Waves, its first Wave came in after the government censorship was briefly lifted. But unfortunately, the censorship slammed back down by 1962, flagging any film on the base of obscenity, communism, and 'unpatriotic themes'. By the 1990s the censorship was lifted and their New Wave was cemented with the 2000s classic Oldboy (2003). This New Wave of Films is usually marked by its use of the Revenge-Thriller Genre; reflecting the societal injustices.
Parasite (2019) - Bong Joon Ho.
In Parasite, the injustice reflected from South Korean society is Classism and its widening Wage-Gap between the Rich and the Poor. The film follows a family that strategically becomes employed by a rich family. While the poor family lives like parasites; cockroaches in an underground basement and leeches off the rich, the film makes it clear the divide of class between families.
This divide is symbolized through an invisible space between each person of class in certain scenes. The film essentially shows how this poor family cons their way past that invisible border between classes, and what it costs them in the end.
Now wanting revenge in most SK New-Wave film doesn't just point towards the antagonist, but rather, vengeance can be given by beating an invisible component, system or people of power unaware of their victims' existence. A metaphor for that entity was the rain, which while a blessing for the richer family, was a curse to the poor family; flooding out their homes and staying in a shelter.
Essentially, Parasite is an excellent film and I really didn't give much away because this is a film I would recommend that everyone watch. Like most South Korean films, its unpredictable, the movie leaves you so absorbed in its scenes and the messages it conveys. Only when a climactic scene crashes (heh wave pun) you shaken back into reality.
Like most films in the SK Film Waves, it is definitely an eye-opener. I would mention, however, is that if your excuse to not watching this film is the language barrier. Subtitles duh glares.
What can we learn from this?
So! From understanding all this, ask yourself the question; has my society done any films like this? Do any of the films I've watched reflect the times? In a world where we embrace the easy watches, it doesn't hurt to open your mind to other realms of films. We are now a society where our information comes from our screens and our information are more or less controlled by powers beyond our control. So why not watch a bit of reality by those who aren't afraid of telling it like it is?
Or even to my local filmmakers; critique the status quo, piss people off, shake things up.
Create a Wave.