Before talking to you about Parasite Joon-ho Bong’s latest film I would like to tell you something quite interesting. I was in Brazil and I was invited from my Brazilian co-producer to meet one of his financiers. This financier, a certain Bartolomeo Joao with a series of 3 or 4 surnames, partly according to Brazilian custom and partly according to the lineage of his family, invited us to his apartment in Ipanema, the most elegant neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, a wonderful attic with a huge terrace covered with grass with a wonderful pool. It was said that when Pelè, the famous soccer player, came to Rio de Janeiro he trained on the lawn of the terrace of this Mr. Bartolomeo Joao. While we were talking, he invited me to take a bath, but not in the pool where everyone else was, but in his private pool in the super attic. So, we went to the super attic where there was this wonderful super pool with whirlpool and all the comforts. While I was bathing in the water of this luxurious pool I asked my guest which was his work to afford all this luxury and he was offended. “Do I look like one who works?” he said, irritated as if I had reviled him “It’s 500 years in my family nobody works: we are wealthy. ” He was the descendant of one of the Banderantes, that sort of Portuguese conquistadores who had explored all of Brazil taking all the riches and selling slaves. So one of the forms of wealth more abject than there could be. I never went to him again and I left this house almost immediately throwing in despair my Brazilian co-producer. My crew, however, remained fascinated from the fact that I had gone to this house and even I wallowed in his pool An almost sacred aura surrounded me to my great annoyance because I understood, even though maybe I already knew it that the rich, the very rich are a kind of myth for the poor, me included among others, although I did not see the myth, but I could understand this aura surrounding the rich. Because poor people dream of rich people and Joon-ho Bong’s film is based just on this dream. This Korean director intelligent, original and talented with a vision and the ability to unite the popular film to the high intellectual class in an inextricable mixture of great suggestion, had already offered us some samples – of which I have already spoken previously – in the movie The Host in which there is a monster created by pollution that kidnaps people and kills them. Then it kidnaps a little girl and only the rambling family of the child is able to stop the monster with the bonds of solidarity and affection that exceed any social distance. And also in another very interesting film, visionary, political and science fiction, Snowpiercer where a train runs eternally in a snowy landscape and it is a kind of Olympus in which on one side there are the rich people who live like gods and on the other side there are all the poor people thrown adrift in a kind of cattle car. As long as there is a revolt of the poor against the rich, that is, mortals against gods. This time in Parasite the Korean director combines these two elements: the strength and affections of a family which, however incoherent and disjointed, anyway feels very much the bonds of affection and on the other side the gods of Olympus. In this case Olympus is no longer a train, but it is a wonderful house, beautiful, created by a great architect with almost magical spaces of great charm and a garden with all the features of the forbidden garden. A fantastic, extraordinary place. The first of the family members that creeps in just like a parasite lying and masquerading as someone else, discovers this little paradise in the city and slowly manages to get all his family members in. This group creeps like parasites in the connective tissue of the home becoming practically the owners. Therefore it is the assault on the sky of the poor towards this rich Olympus. However, a wonderful thing happens, because once the parasites have entered the house they discover that they too have parasites which, let us say, “parasitize” them, that is, they not only live at their expense, but they are also ignored by them and exploit them. This game of misunderstandings, this extraordinary Chinese box – in this case a Korean box – which opens revealing another box is the classic comedy of misunderstandings where however every misunderstanding is like a wardrobe that hides a skeleton and every skeleton coming out, not only wants to live, but he demands his portion of happiness and therefore it is a run-up where you never know what can be hidden there. The extraordinary skill of Joon-ho Bong is to give all this a socio-political apologue, so what would be a simple comedy rises in tone becoming a radiograph of South Korea, but also of every country in the world with an advanced economy where the apparent well-being hides a series of parasites, that is a series of exploited who try to exploit others on an infinite scale. There is an exemplary scene in the film, when there is a big rain than in the Olympus house of the gods it’s just a change in the landscape, because through the crystals of the great hall the rain that falls in the garden becomes a play of lights and shadows and it has a pleasant sound. But when, for a reason I won’t tell you not to spoil the movie, our protagonists must leave this house and have to run towards their home, there is like a descent into hell, because the director is very skillful and shows us a whole series of steps, so from this suggestive and heavenly place you go down more and more towards the bottom, where the rain becomes more and more water that really wets, where even in certain points it overflows, to the bottom where even it comes out of manholes and toilets becoming a mephitic, horrible water where our protagonists wallow. But this is not the end, it is not paradoxically the punishment, because the situation is completely overturned again and they rediscover their parasitic situation to find out that there is already another parasite on them. This mirror game is of great power and above all it is a great denunciation, but a grotesque denunciation that gives a bitter smile without weighing down the exemplification of this society which, exactly like ours, is a layered society where everyone tries to climb to the next layer falling back very often. So the social lift that was supposed to be within the welfare society, not always worked or maybe it won’t work anymore until we find another one different, another stronger, more decisive possibility and above all more human. But to conclude with a smile, I also had an experience like that one of the film characters. Besides what happened to me in Brazil, I came across a sudden wealth Indeed, due to a series of fortuitous circumstances when I was very young I met the daughter of a very important international personality rich in an immoderate way and I went to live for a short time in her castle finding me also uncomfortable because every morning while I was desperately looking for a cappuccino and a croissant – because there were gargantuan breakfasts according to the fashion of the Northern cuisine and then with salted herring and salami… – and I had procured cappuccino and brioche, because there were no croissants, the butler gave me a list of lunch and dinner menus where to choose among prestigious dishes that even if they were soups they were called “potage” and even if they were frittatas they were called “omelette” and then venison, caviar, champagne … In short, this adventure is over within a month and a half or two and I’m back home. I always remember that I arrived late evening from the airport, my parents slept and I quietly opened the door, I left my bags and went to the kitchen where I opened the fridge because I was hungry and I found a wonderful pasta and beans, as they say in Rome “bricked”, in the sense that it had congealed in the refrigerator. I added a little oil and a little pecorino and I ate it in my modest kitchen, with tiles and Formica floors, without frescoes on the walls, but with Frate Indovino Almanac,
(it is an odd Italian religious calendar) and I discovered that it was very good, I discovered that I was poor and that I was happy to be. Thanks.