Breaking the ‘one-inch taller barrier of subtitles’: Parasite makes Oscar history

This week, Parasite made Oscar history last week for being the first non-English language film in Oscar history to win the award for the Best Picture. That very night, the film also won three other Oscar awards.

Bong Joon Ho, the director of the South Korean film Parasite said during his acceptance speech, “Just to be nominated was a huge honor. I never thought I would win.”

Other than Best Picture, this humble man also won Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay. This is also the very first time that a South Korean film winning an award in any Oscar categories.

He also won the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Golden Globes last month.

“Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” said Bong during his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes.

However, many people complain how reading subtitles distracts one’s mind from focusing on the film itself. Tim Smith, an associate professor of cognitive psychology at Birkbeck, University of London told the New York Times that “here is no scientific proof that the extra cognitive load is what keeps people from plopping down in front of a screen to read and watch a subtitled movie.”

He added that “when you’re watching a subtitled movie, you have to be engaged with the screen and be more attached, but once you engage with that, you can have as rich an experience as if it were your language.”
Bong’s victory proves that the world is ready for an internationalized cinematic experience. It took Oscar 97 years to appreciate a foreign film for Best Pictures but step by step we are moving to globalization.

“I am ready to drink tonight… until next morning,” said Bong at his acceptance speech. Yes, Bong, cheers to your success.

Despite all his meme-able moments at Oscar, which circulates Subtle Asian Traits, Bong also mentions something truly inspiring. He quoted a famous filmmaker Martin Scorsese saying, “the most personal is the most creative.” The film is undeniably creative but I am slightly worried that this film is “personal”.

Bong cleared up the worries when Entertainment Tonight asked him how he created such an impressive film. Bong replied, “because I am a f***ing weirdo”.


Parasite synopsis

Bong described his own film as “a comedy without clowns, a tragedy without villains”. Reading over the film reviews, people describe it as “genre-fluid”.

“In his latest, Bong Joon-Ho blends a con man story with a tale of suspense, to uproarious and enlightening effect,” Hau Chu from Washington Post commented.

New York Times critic said, “In Bong Joon Ho’s new film, a destitute family occupies a wealthy household in an elaborate scheme that goes comically — then horribly — wrong.”

I think these critics are revealing too much.

For readers that have not watched the movie, this is a short summary of the movie. My one piece of advice is “the less you know, the better the experience”.

The summary, according to IMDB, is “A poor family, the Kims, con their way into becoming the servants of a rich family, the Parks. But their easy life gets complicated when their deception is threatened with exposure.”

Short and sweet.

Honestly, you do not need anything more than this. There are numerous foreshadows and plot twist. It is one exciting cinematic journey.

Above everything else, this is film shows Asian Representation in western media.