parasite black and white

It’s been a banner year for Bong Joon-ho and his genre-defying masterwork Parasite. Since winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes earlier this year, Parasite has taken the world by storm, skyrocketing to the top of dozens of best of the year lists and even a few best of the decade lists (including ours). Now Parasite will head into 2020 with another achievement under its belt: a black-and-white release.

Following in the footsteps of recent genre films that became unlikely critical darlings like Mad Max: Fury Road and LoganParasite is getting a black-and-white release. According to The Film Stage, the Parasite black and white version of the film will be premiering at International Film Festival Rotterdam, which begins January 22, 2020. It’s not yet known whether this black-and-white version will eventually make its way to theaters or if it will appear on the home video releases of Parasite.

Bong has long held a fascination with the black and white film, premiering a black-and-white version of his 2009 film Mother at the Mar Del Plata International Film Festival in 2013, around the time of Snowpiercer‘s release. According to David Bordwell’s report, “He told his cinematographer, Hong Kyung-pyo, that he’d always wanted to make a black-and-white film but that no producers would finance one nowadays. Hong suggested that they remake Mother in black-and-white. So during postproduction on the big film, they used spare days to redo the color data from the older one. It wasn’t simply a matter of hitting a button. They performed color correction shot by shot so as to control the exact degree of tonality and contrast.”

Bordwell later added that the black-and-white rerelease of Mother, “really does become more of a film noir–harsher, bleaker, and more somber.”

Parasite is a film so perfectly staged and visually dynamic that it could make a pretty seamless transition to black and white. On a thematic level, that color scheme could also be a nice complement to the film’s ideas of shattering the audiences’ black and white perception of class division between the rich and poor. With the worldwide acclaim that Parasite is getting, this new version could probably have more luck than Mother in getting a theatrical distribution — the black-and-white Mother eventually only received a hard-to-find disc release in South Korea. The regular Blu-ray edition of Parasite will arrive on January 28, 2020.

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