The issue of universal resonance: The disparity between the rich and the poor
The gap between the rich and the poor, the class opposition, the poor want to turn over, the rich despise the poor, no matter when in ancient or modern, no matter where in the East or the West, it is a phenomenon that is never lacking in the real world, and naturally it is also a subject of high frequency in the field of drama. The film creators who took it to tell the story are countless, then it is obviously more difficult to get the Golden Palm Award of the Cannes Film Festival (the official competition unit of Cannes Film Festival, awarded to the best film) by telling such a theme of story. There are countless festivals every year around the world, the most attracted and representative of which are the Cannes Film Festival in France, the Berlin Film Festival in Germany, and the Venice Film Festival in Italy. The Cannes Film Festival, which adopts the jury system, has different orientations due to the composition of the jury each year. It is always the highest glory of art films to get awarded in the Cannes Film Festival. Therefore, this Korean film "Parasite", which won the 72nd Golden Palm Award in 2019, really made me look forward to it with great expectations.
If art is to metaphorize or present the entities of the real world by symbols or signals, to convey the creators’ intentions in a limited range of time (length of the film) or space (screen frame), then "Parasite" is definitely superb. The main roles of the story is two groups, the rich family and the poor family, through their different living space, lifestyles, characters and behaviors, with a black humor but horror, the director metaphorize and unfold a miserable tragedy caused by the disparity between the rich and the poor.
The contrast and metaphor though the space
At the beginning of the film, the camera led the audience to look out from the semi-basement of the poor family, and the outside ground was above their heads. Someone often pees at the corner in front of their window, it is obviously a community of the poor. Inside the house, the family of the poor is crowded in a small and messy space. The toilet is at the highest position of the house (because of the reason of the terrain and pipeline). When the cleaning staff sprays the insecticide on the road, the poor says it can clean our house filled with many parasites, then the four of them cough in the spray of insect repellent, which all metaphorizing that they are a group of people who are disliked, like parasite, should be eliminated. Especially in the second half of the story, we saw a torrential rain pouring down, the way they went home was to go down a long ladder. The downhill terrain caused rainwater to drain into their semi-underground house, even the dirty water gush out from the toilet, the poor men almost are drowned and helpless, it seems that the miserable situation is not just due to the contempt of the upper class, even the heaven also regarded it as a worm. Relatively, the rich family lives in a single villa on the hillside surrounded by a vast green courtyard. It is spacious and bright, with a sense of designing, from the ground garage upstairs to the house space, the bathtub like a throne in the bathroom, there is even a basement as refuge built by a famous architect (the pre-owner). The strong contrast in these scenes above clearly shows that rich people who contribute more GDP to this society are eligible to enjoy such a comfortable life with humanity, just when the poor are drowned in pouring rain, the child of the rich family can camping in the tent in their courtyard safely and happily.
Could being rich really make people become kind?
How are the two groups of completely different families connected together? It is the amazing point of the film. Because the friend of the poor sons wants to go abroad, asks the son to help him to take over the English tutor to teach the daughter of the rich family. It seems that this friend does not despise this poor friend because he trusts that this friend will not grab his favorite girl. So, the son entered the rich family with a fake university certificate and became an English tutor of the rich. Then he introduces his sister who pretends to be an art therapist from abroad to be the tutor of the son of the rich, and then the sister introduces her father to be the driver of the rich male owner, and the last step is the father introduces his wife to be the housekeeper, they all pretend they don’t know each other, but get jobs in the rich family.
The important words in the film are: Why could the rich people be so kind? If I have money, I will be kind too. It seems that the author's idea is that kindness and willingness to believe in people must be established after the food and clothing are full, so the poor only have the competitive heart for surviving. (For example, the son and daughter of the poor frame the original driver and housekeeper to be dismissed by the rich, and then let their parents smoothly enter the rich family as the driver and the housekeeper. The success of such a match is not only from the deception of the poor, but also from the introduction of acquaintances that the rich are willing to believe in their own identity.) However, through thinking carefully, we will find that the rich in the plot are just don’t trust the outside world, so they only depend upon their familiar persons. (The rich distrust people and have no mercy, so they can easily dismiss the original housekeeper who has been working for a long time.) So, in my opinion, the director broke the superficial contrast image between the rich and the poor in the twists and turns of the plot, presenting humanity deeply, not only the poor but also the rich, all are "evil", being rich doesn't make people really become kind.
The so-called taking advantage of, in addition to appearing in the original housekeeper who hid her husband in the secret basement that even the owner never know. She takes advantage of the stewardship to bring food to her husband. The poor family take the advantage the rich’s trust to enjoy in the rich’s house while the rich are traveling. However, the rich’s taking advantage of the poor is rationalized by the high salary in the economic system. The rich even sneer at their low scorns after using the labor value of the poor and disgust the taste from the body of the poor.
The taste unable to be erased, the essence of the poor
The taste, in this film, plays the key-point. The unemployed, unruly talk, rough behavior, such as the whole family fold pizza box carelessly and randomly, resulting in a pile of defective products, but when working at the rich’s family, they can pretend elegant and courteous in talks and behaviors. The poor can rely on fake certificates, putting on decent clothes, researching the information on the Internet and working as an expert, and cooking noodles by using instant food seasonings, so that people can look them as ordinary persons from visual, hearing and feeling sides. But the taste of the body (long-term living in a mess with parasites, using inferior soap, a huddling in the subway car...) is difficult to be hidden, it is also the "taste" repeatedly caused the rich couple doubt and dislike the driver, which deeply hurts his self-esteem. In addition, the driver constantly wants to cross the invisible boundary to get closer to the rich man with the similar emotion of human nature, but frequently he is warned not to cross the boundary, these situations finally ignite the anger and counterattack of the poor. The difficulty of concealing the taste（even if they hide their bodies under the table, the taste is still smelled）and the impossibility of crossing the boundary explain that the essence and the helplessness of the poor are impossible to change.
Where is the hope of the parasite?
Then, in the director’s story intention, when the outside and inner of the poor are overwhelmed by poverty, is there any chance to turn over? When the pouring rain rushed through the semi-basement, the only things that the father and his son save are the sport trophy of the mother, and the lucky stone that the son’s friend sent to bring wealth. The trophy and the lucky stone symbolize that they must grasp the past that can prove their worth to the upper society, and the future hope that can turn themselves over. However, In the end of the film, it is the lucky stone that becomes a weapon, bringing irreversible damage and misfortune. It seems that the director finally expresses the hope of the poor is impossible to achieve, even when these inner hopes of wanting to turn over, mixed with the evil and greed in human nature, will only cause bigger disaster. So, as the film ends, the son of the poor imagine that he would make much money one day, and he enters the house to rescue the father who hides in the basement of the rich house. However, it is just a day-dream.
The upper-class vested interests are hard to give up their vested interests, to change the rules of the game is the reason why from the French Revolution to the rise of communism, the revolutions appeared in the past centuries, and it is still the issue of the human. In fact, another film "Okja" of the Director Bong Joon Ho (봉준호) in 2017 ("Okja". This film was selected for the Golden Palm Award at the 70th Cannes Film Festival in 2017.) has expressed that in the world of disparity between the rich and the poor, even the poor are kind, they still have no chance to get justice. Now the same creative intention is shown more exquisitely and artistically in “Parasite”.
In addition, the Korean film title is "기생충", which means "parasite", the name actually has directly pointed out that the poor are not only living with parasites, but also contributing nothing to this society as the parasites which just suck the blood of the rich host. The film work with such thoughts and values as its subject crossed the nation, ethnic and culture to trigger the resonance and recognition of jury of the Cannes Film Festival from various countries and won the grand prize, undoubtedly, the issue was universal. Therefore, after watching the movie, in addition to admiring the director, what I am thinking about is that when a series of distrusting, deceiving, and even despising generated from the disparity between the rich and the poor, if such mental situations have universally entered the collective subconscious of human beings, then, where is the hope of human beings?