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“Parasite” and “Marie Antoinette” Films Comparison Essay

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Updated: Jul 27th, 2022

This essay will tell and analyze two films, namely, ‘Parasite’ and ‘Marie Antoinette’. Bong Joon Ho has been in the cinema for about twenty years. His detective film “Memories of a Murder” and the drama “Mother” are recognized even outside Korea. Due to this material, which drew attention to itself with dark and at the same time deep stories, the director later managed to attract famous Western actors to the shooting. Thus, in the post-apocalyptic thriller “Through the Snow” starred Tilda Swinton and Chris Evans (Kim, p.13). A few years later, Tilda again expressed a desire to work with Bong Joon Ho – she appeared in the science fiction film “Okcha,” released on Netflix. Interestingly, Jake Gyllenhaal also wanted to work with the director, so he even agreed to a minor role.

However, in “Parasite,” people will not find anything that could remind them of “Okcha (Jiang). There are no Hollywood actors, no streaming service support, and no computer graphics. In the new film, Bong Joon Ho returned to his native Korean reality. Nevertheless, the picture was understood and accepted in Cannes. And this is not surprising, given how Asian cinema is confidently spreading around the world and finding great acceptance.

The film “Parasite” shows a family of four. The family includes a father named Kim Ki Taek, his wife, and two adult children (Kench). They live in a basement and are looking for a temporary job. The lack of prospects confirms the difficult economic situation in Korea, where, as a result of the lack of jobs, the unemployment rate worsens every year more and more. However, there are still people who feel confident in the future – this is the wealthy family of Mr. Park, who owns a huge house. One day, the two different worlds of rich and poor intersect when Kim Ki-Taek’s son acquires a job as a tutor for Park’s daughter. He fakes his education documents and successfully passes the interview. Having gained access to the house, the guy quickly adapts and understands that there could well be attached to his family. To do this, he comes up with a scenario of deception, which should work on the weaknesses of the rich.

With such an uncomplicated plot, the film “Parasite” turns out to be a film, the ending of which is simply impossible to predict (Jiang). Bong Joon Ho has made a social tragicomedy and its mood changes along with the plot twists. The intrigue of the Kim Ki Taek family’s employment is shown with relaxed humor that lies in the detailed actions of the characters. When they seem to succeed, the atmosphere takes on the shape of a thriller.

Director Bong Joon Ho juggles fun, tension, and tragedy. He seems to give time to decide on his attitude to the main characters, and when everything becomes clear enough, changes the rules of the game. In his special way, Bong Joon Ho talks about class inequality and the psychology of perception of those who do not have the most enviable economic status. He manages to revive a long-worn theme, and even do it in such a way that the film will be spinning in his head for a long time.

Bong Joon Ho pays special attention to the space in which his characters are located. With the help of the cameraman Kun Po-hon (who worked on the film “Burning”), he allows feeling the closeness of the basement-dwelling of a poor family.

At some point, the spacious house, which looks like a work of architectural art, begins to resemble a theater stage for dramatic actions. This is facilitated by open areas and floor-to-ceiling windows, which deliberately do not hide what is happening behind the monumental walls. And the more space comes into view, the less the viewer knows about it. There is not a single character in the film whose role is not fully revealed. Each of them has its social subtext, and especially memorable is the son of Kim Ki Taek, who several times simply throws the phrase “it’s so metaphorical”.

Marie Antoinette, one of the most scandalous figures on the French throne, has repeatedly become the center of attention in literature and cinema (Ashley). However, perhaps only Sofia Coppola managed to look at the wasteful and capricious queen with different eyes. The historical and political situation recedes into the background in the film along with the obvious accusations of extravagance and stupidity.

The main focus is on the experiences of a young girl whose life turned out quite differently from what could have been expected. At the age of fifteen, Marie-Antoinette was looking for pleasure and happiness and found only a cold marriage bed, a snake’s nest of envious people, and the need to meet someone’s expectations (mother, king, the whole country). And even though in the 18th century early marriages were in the order of things, from the 21st century with the light hand of Sofia Coppola – the young queen is seen as an ordinary teenager.

The director fills the film with bright colors and lights, freshness and strength of the first girl’s impressions. A real feast for the eyes unfolds on the screen: these are delicate landscapes, dazzling Versailles interiors, and detailed recreations of dresses, shoes, hairstyles. It is also the amazing beauty of cakes that one want so much and is sorry to eat. Marie-Antoinette revels in the pleasures that have opened up to her, and it is so easy to understand her in this. It is so easy to be caught up in her naive, childish hedonism! And the credit here belongs to both Kirsten Dunst, who combines the images of “the girl from our court” and the irresistible queen, and Sofia Coppola, who places the main character in a somewhat modern 18th century.

The Rococo dresses, for which the costume designer Milena Canonero later won an Oscar, are painted in delicate pastel colors that are atypical for that era. The shoe collection bears the name of the famous designer Manolo Blahnik; moreover, in one of the scenes, there are Converse sneakers. And, of course, music plays an important role in creating the atmosphere: most of the film flies to the melodies of “new wave” and punk rock-The Strokes, The Cure, New Order. At the same time, the modern features of the production do not catch the eye, as, for example, in Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby”, though are naturally intertwined with what is happening. Sofia Coppola seems to look at the events of the 18th century through the prism of the 21st century and thus brings the viewer closer to her heroine. The behavior of the young queen ceases to raise questions, and in many moments you even sympathize with her.

What the film slackens in is the plot. The disclosure of the image of Marie Antoinette takes about forty minutes, and then the repetitions begin. Historical events remain in the background, and the queen’s personal life does not even seem to care much about her. Neither the consolidation of the marriage, nor the birth of a child, nor the relationship with a lover bring dynamics to the story and do not deepen the understanding of the motives of the young Austrian woman.

Although the camera follows Kirsten Dunst and catches her every movement with an eyebrow, the inner feelings of the heroine in the second part of the film are hidden behind seven seals. In addition, due to this, it is difficult to determine whether anything changes in Marie-Antoinette other than her appearance by the end of the story. And the story itself becomes blurred, devoid of any conclusions and conclusions.

Nevertheless, the film is still memorable. It is remembered at the level of the senses – with a gentle color scheme, summer music, and splashing energy. Sofia Coppola, it seems, playfully managed to destroy the centuries-old image of a stupid, selfish queen and tell about Marie Antoinette as a young girl, not much different from the girls of the 21st century.

According to the author’s theory, a film is a work of art, and the director is the author and the key figure of the entire process. And this was fundamentally different from the cinema of the first half of the XX century, where the film was a project of a film studio with the combined work of screenwriters, directors, cameramen, actors, and composers. The development of the idea in Europe is associated with the directors of the French New Wave. In America, the outstanding representative was the unsurpassed Alfred Hitchcock.

“Parasite” by Bong Joon Ho does not depart from the usual formula for the director – this is a genre movie that falls under the genre framework only partially. The film, in the skillful hands of the director, moves from tragicomedy to thriller, from it to metaphysical narratives, and back again, looping what is happening. As always with Bong Joon Ho, it is impossible to say what genre he works in because he creates movies as he feels them, only looking back at its laws, deftly mixing them into one whole. Such a method is very risky, although not in Bong Joon Ho, not in “Parasite”, not in a work of art that goes beyond the boundaries, although knows how to stop at the border in time, thereby preserving the integrity of the structure.

Quentin Tarantino is a cult director of a galaxy of original films, each of which is filled with a unique, original creative vision and style, starting with ”Reservoir Dogs“ and ending with ”The Hateful Eight”. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is nice to watch, though hard to understand. Tarantino always focused on a mass audience, this time he made a purely author’s picture for himself and, in a sense, for himself.

‘Parasite’ and ‘Marie Antoinette’ present an ideological reading of a time and place and yet are radically different films (Kench). In Parasite, the director Bong Joon Ho displays a conflict situation between the privileged and the disadvantaged categories of people, represented by the luxury of the wealthy family’s house and the poorer family’s shelter, little more than a dirty basement (Jiang). The film Marie Antoinette depicts the rich lifestyle and entertainment of the French queen. There is no need to even talk about how different this is from what is shown in Parasite (Ashley). However, despite such colossal differences between the two films, there is no denying that in both “Parasite” and “Marie Antoinette”, all events take place on the so-called ideological stage that the directors build (Ebert). In addition, it helps the viewer to see the social injustice faced by the lower classes of the population, both in South Korea and in revolutionary France.

The film is one of the profound vehicles for ideology throughout the twentieth (and now twenty-first) century. Ideology is not limited to the current political moment; it is rather about the ideology of a person’s life as an individual, his strength of spirit and faith. People really miss films in which real characters live in real situations. The audience expects to see a behavioral model in the movie, to see those who want to imitate their characters.

It should be noted, that Bong Joon Ho’s film Parasite (2019) brings a refreshing viewpoint on the capitalist ideology that defines the life of Western world of today. The smart and gripping commentary on the different sides of capitalist everyday life is comprehensive and sophisticated. This paper aims to use Slavoj Zizek’s thoughts on ideology and Michel Foucault’s work on discourse to reveal some of the essential arguments that the movie makes about modern capitalism.

Ideology is the world how it is seen or considered by a person. In the film “Marie Antoinette”, directed by Sofia Coppola, the ideology is described quite easily. The most eye-catching ideology in Marie Antoinette is based on her high rank. During Marie’s reign as Queen of France, people were put into classes of rank, which divided them in terms of wealth, prominence in society, and blood (Ebert). Sofia Coppola shows how the ideology can rule a society and how people progress with it. Practically there were two prevailing classes, the rich and the poor, or the nobility and the peasants and almost nobody in-between.

Works Cited

Kim, John. “Parasite: A Film Review on Capitalism.” Cinesthesia, vol. 10, no. 2, 2020, pp. 2-14.

Ashley, J. “Marie Antoinette and Ideology.” Web.

Kench, Sam. “Parasite Movie Analysis, Synopsis and Ending Explained.” Studiobinder, Web.

Ebert, Roger. “Pretty in Pink.” RogerEvert.com., 2021. Web.

Jiang, Edward. “The Systems of Injustice behind Parasite and Marie Antoinette.” The Oxford Blue, Web.

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