Parasite Cinematography Analysis

Parasite Cinematography Analysis

Parasite, the 2019 South Korean black comedy thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho, is a masterpiece of cinematography. The film’s use of lighting, framing, and color is masterfully done, and it helps to create a visually stunning and atmospheric film that perfectly captures the film’s themes of class conflict and social commentary.

One of the most striking aspects of Parasite’s cinematography is its use of lighting. The film is often dark and shadowy, which creates a sense of unease and suspense. The lighting also helps to highlight the contrast between the wealthy Park family’s home and the Kim family’s squalid basement apartment.

The film’s framing is also very deliberate. The Kim family is often framed in tight shots, which emphasizes their claustrophobia and their sense of being trapped. The Park family, on the other hand, is often framed in wide shots, which emphasizes their wealth and privilege.

The film’s use of color is also significant. The Kim family’s clothes are often dark and muted, while the Park family’s clothes are bright and colorful. This color contrast helps to visually represent the difference between the two families’ social statuses.

Parasite Cinematography Analysis

The cinematography of Parasite is one of the many things that makes the film so visually stunning and effective. Cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo uses a variety of techniques to create a visual representation of the film’s themes of class divide and social commentary.

One of the most striking aspects of the cinematography is the use of vertical compositions. This is often used to juxtapose the wealthy Park family with the poor Kim family. For example, in the scene where the Kims first enter the Park’s home, they are dwarfed by the towering staircase and the large windows. This visual contrast helps to highlight the vast difference in wealth and status between the two families.

Another important technique used in the cinematography is the use of rain. Rain is often used to represent chaos and disorder, and it is used to great effect in Parasite. For example, in the scene where the Kims’ con is finally revealed, the rain is pouring down, creating a sense of urgency and suspense. The rain also helps to obscure the characters’ faces, making them more anonymous and interchangeable.

Finally, the cinematography of Parasite makes extensive use of contrasting lighting conditions. This is used to create a sense of unease and discomfort. For example, in the scene where the Kims are hiding in the Park’s basement, the lighting is very dim and claustrophobic. This creates a sense of tension and anxiety, which is heightened by the fact that the Kims are constantly afraid of being discovered.

The cinematography of Parasite is a masterclass in how to use visual storytelling to create a powerful and memorable film. The use of vertical compositions, rain, and contrasting lighting conditions all help to create a visual representation of the film’s themes of class divide and social commentary.

Here are some other specific examples of how the cinematography is used in Parasite to tell the story:

  • The film opens with a shot of the Kim family’s cramped basement apartment. The low-angle shot makes the apartment seem even smaller and more claustrophobic. This sets the tone for the film and establishes the Kims’ impoverished circumstances.
  • When the Kims first enter the Park’s home, they are overwhelmed by the size and luxury of the house. The high-angle shots make the Kims seem small and insignificant. This creates a sense of awe and wonder, but also of unease.
  • The film’s climax takes place during a rainstorm. The rain is used to create a sense of chaos and disorder. It also obscures the characters’ faces, making them more anonymous and interchangeable. This reflects the film’s theme of the blurring of class lines.

The cinematography of Parasite is a vital part of what makes the film so effective. It is used to create a visual representation of the film’s themes, to evoke emotions in the viewer, and to tell the story in a visually stunning way.

Cinematography Breakdown: Creating the Look of Parasite

Parasite is renowned for its impressive cinematography that helps depict the class divide between the wealthy Park family and the poor Kim family. Director Bong Joon-ho worked closely with cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo to carefully craft the visual language of the film.

Some key aspects of Parasite’s cinematography include:

  • Extensive use of wide and extreme wide shots when in the Park house to highlight its cold, spacious emptiness. Meanwhile, tight and cramped shots in the Kim house basement depict their poverty and lack of space.
  • Obstructed and closed framings when filming the Kims to visually trap them. Open framings used for the Parks show their freedom.
  • Warm, natural lighting for the Parks contrasted with harsh fluorescent lighting in the Kim house basement. Lighting design reinforces their economic divide.
  • Precise camera movement and angles. The camera pans to follow action, slowly zooms in at key moments, and takes on roles like CCTV to underline themes.
  • Shallow depth of field for many shots to accentuate focal points and draw viewers into the story.

The meticulous cinematography required detailed planning of shots to support the narrative and themes. Overall, it immerses the audience in the different worlds of the two families.

How Parasite’s Cinematography Depicts the Class Divide

Parasite depicts the sharp class divide between the wealthy Park family and the poor Kim family through the film’s thoughtful cinematography.

When filming in the Park’s house, wide and extreme wide shots are extensively used to portray the large, empty spaces and cold emptiness of their mansion. Meanwhile, the Kim’s cramped basement home is shown through crowded, claustrophobic framings with obstructions in the foreground and background. Their lack of space is emphasized.

The lighting also differs greatly. The Parks are bathed in warm, natural lighting from their expansive windows, representing their comfort and abundance. The Kims’ basement is lit harshly with unflattering fluorescent lights, evoking their poverty.

Camera movement also follows the fortunes of the two families. Smooth tracks and zooms mimic the privileges and opportunities available to the Parks, while choppy handheld shots reflect the Kims’ instability.

Overall, the cinematography’s contrasts in framing, lighting, and camerawork vividly reinforce the gulf between the lives of the wealthy Parks and the poor Kims. It heightens Parasite’s themes of social and economic inequality.

Who did Parasite beat for best picture?

Parasite made history by becoming the first non-English language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It beat out 8 other nominees:

  • Ford v Ferrari
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite’s surprise Best Picture win was seen as a milestone for foreign language films being recognized on the biggest Hollywood stage.

Who edited Parasite?

Parasite was edited by Korean film editor Yang Jin-mo. Yang has a long history of collaborating with Parasite’s director Bong Joon-ho, having edited several of his previous films like Snowpiercer, Mother, and The Host.

Yang has said the hardest scene for him to edit in Parasite was the climax where the Kim family infiltrates the Park house during the party and rain storm. The scene involved balancing multiple characters and complex interweaving action that builds to an emotional climax. Careful editing was needed to pull off the scene effectively.

Who designed the Parasite movie poster?

The main Parasite movie poster with the two hands clasped together was designed by graphic artistCLOSED EYES.

The poster brings together visual elements from the film – like the houses of the rich and poor families – into a simple but evocative image. The grasping hands depict the symbiotic relationship between the Kim and Park families, a central theme of the film.

CLOSED EYES is an Seoul-based design studio founded by Jaejin Myoung and Jihyun Park. They have designed posters for many top Korean films.

Who is the production designer for Parasite?

The production designer for Parasite was Lee Ha-jun. He was responsible for the overall visual design and aesthetic of the film’s sets and environments.

Lee Ha-jun is a renowned Korean production designer who also worked on Bong Joon-ho’s previous films Okja and Snowpiercer. His work on Parasite earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Production Design.

Key sets Lee designed for Parasite included the Park family’s minimalist mansion and the cramped semi-basement home of the Kim family. He effectively used the spaces to highlight the economic disparity between the families.

Who did the cinematography for Parasite?

The cinematographer for Parasite was Hong Kyung-pyo. He collaborated closely with director Bong Joon-ho to create the film’s precise visual language and camerawork.

Hong Kyung-pyo is known for his extensive experience filming both big blockbusters and smaller arthouse films. Parasite earned him the Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 2020.

His photography amplified the script’s themes through choices in framing, camera movement, and lighting contrasts between the wealthy Parks and poor Kims. The cinematography adds an important visual dimension to the class divide depicted in Parasite.

What camera was used to film Parasite?

Parasite was primarily filmed using the high-end Arri Alexa Mini digital cinema camera. Cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo chose the Alexa Mini for its versatility in handling both the film’s intimate scenes as well as wider shots.

The Alexa Mini allowed for a shallow depth of field to isolate subjects. It also captured detail effectively in low lighting situations common in the Kim family’s cramped basement home.

An easy-to-maneuver gimbal camera was also used for action sequences like the flood scene. Overall, the Alexa Mini provided the image quality and flexibility needed for Parasite’s visual style.

How is mise en scene used in Parasite?

Parasite director Bong Joon-ho uses mise en scene extensively to convey the differences between the wealthy Park family and the poor Kim family. Mise en scene refers to what is placed in front of the camera including sets, props, lighting, costumes, etc.

Some key examples of mise en scene in Parasite:

  • The Park mansion is filled with open, minimalist spaces lit naturally to convey wealth. The Kim basement home is cramped and cluttered with obstructed views and harsh lighting.
  • The Parks wear pristine, elegant clothes representing refinement and success. The Kims wear grubby, casual clothes showing their lower class status.
  • The birthday party scene uses bright, festive decorations to underscore the Parks’ extravagance and excess.
  • The Native American tipi and food in the Park home underlines their worldliness and privilege.
  • Lighting shifts from warm and inviting in the Park home to cold and oppressive in the Kim home, paralleling differences in their lifestyles.

Through meticulous mise en scene, Bong Joon-ho emphasizes the gulf between the haves and have-nots at the story’s heart.

Why is Parasite movie so famous?

Parasite became so famous and critically acclaimed for several key reasons:

  • It was a groundbreaking Best Picture winner at the Oscars, becoming the first non-English language film to win the top prize. This historic milestone made it famous worldwide.
  • It masterfully combines genres – comedy, thriller, drama – into a unique and unpredictable story that captivates audiences.
  • The universal themes about income inequality and class divisions resonated strongly with critics and audiences.
  • Director Bong Joon-ho crafted the film with incredible attention to detail in both storytelling and technical elements like cinematography, production design, and editing. This creativity earned widespread praise.
  • Song Kang-ho and the cast gave outstanding performances that were universally lauded by critics.
  • It was a crossover hit that performed well at both the art house box office and in mainstream multiplexes thanks to strong word of mouth.

Overall, Parasite managed to be both a cinematic masterpiece and a crowd-pleasing smash hit – a rare achievement that explains its fame.

What is cinematography in movies?

Cinematography refers to the art of motion-picture photography. It involves the camerawork and lighting used to capture a film’s visuals. The director of cinematography, also called the cinematographer, is the head of the camera and lighting crews.

Key elements of cinematography include:

  • Camera placement – the positioning, movement, and angles of the camera
  • Framing – what is included inside each shot
  • Focus – selective use of shallow or deep focus
  • Lens choice – the use of different focal lengths like wide angles or telephotos
  • Lighting – both natural lighting and artificial lights to create moods
  • Color palette – colors are precisely chosen for desired visual impact

Through expert cinematography, the visuals of a film come together to enhance the storytelling and emotions conveyed on screen. It is a crucial cinematic craft.

Why is Parasite one of the best movies?

There are several reasons why Parasite is considered one of the best films of recent years:

  • It is a brilliantly original and unpredictable story – the twists and turns shock and engage audiences.
  • The themes of economic inequality and class divisions are powerfully resonant.
  • Director Bong Joon-ho crafts the film masterfully through skilled directing, writing, and editing.
  • The cinematography and production design are stunning, using visuals to amplify the narrative’s emotional impact.
  • Song Kang-ho and the cast give outstanding performances that draw you into their characters’ worlds.
  • It combines genres like drama, comedy, and thriller in an innovative way.
  • It was a landmark Best Picture winner as the first non-English language film to win the Oscar’s top honor.
  • Both critically and commercially it was a smash hit, pleasing crowds, art house fans, and critics alike.

Thanks to excelling on every filmmaking front, Parasite rose above other contenders to become a modern classic.

What does the rain symbolize in Parasite?

The rain in Parasite takes on symbolic meaning, often representing the deterioration of the Kim family’s hopes and plans.

Some key moments where rain symbolizes doom and failure for the Kims:

  • It begins raining right after Mr. Kim loses his job as the Park family chauffeur, a turning point as their fortunes decline.
  • A heavy rain arrives on the night the Kims secretly infiltrate the Park house, foreshadowing the violent events to come.
  • The dramatic climactic flood that destroys the Kim’s home happens amidst torrential rain, sealing their tragic fate.

The rain appears whenever the Kims’ schemes are unraveling and their dreams of a better life are being washed away. It evokes a sense of impending disaster and misery they cannot escape from.

Director Bong Joon-ho uses the rain visually and audibly to create unease and tension, hinting that the Kims’ luck may have run out each time it arrives on screen. It is a poetic atmospheric motif warning of troubles ahead.

Who did Parasite beat for best picture?

Parasite made history by becoming the first non-English language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It beat out 8 other nominees:

  • Ford v Ferrari
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Parasite’s surprise Best Picture win was seen as a milestone for foreign language films being recognized on the biggest Hollywood stage. It was praise for Parasite’s universal storytelling that resonated with audiences worldwide.

How many Oscars did Parasite win?

Parasite won 4 Oscars at the 2020 Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture – The first non-English language film to win Best Picture
  • Best Director – Bong Joon-ho
  • Best Original Screenplay – Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won
  • Best International Feature Film

This tied the record for most wins for a foreign language film. Parasite’s 4 major wins were a historic achievement that highlighted its critical acclaim and artistry.

Why is it called Parasite?

The film is called Parasite because it explores the metaphorical parasitic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the poor Kim family.

The Kims figuratively “feed off” the Parks by infiltrating their household and gaining employment through deception. However, the Parks also unknowingly depend on the Kims to maintain their luxurious lifestyle.

The title Parasite refers to this interdependent, symbiotic connection between the upper-class Parks and lower-class Kims, likening them to biological parasites feeding off a host.

It also alludes to how the Kims attempt to climb up the social ladder by latching onto the prosperous Park family, mirroring how parasites in nature rely on their host for survival.

What lenses were used on Parasite?

Parasite cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo used a variety of lenses to achieve the film’s distinct visual style:

  • Wide-angle lenses – Used frequently to depict the expansive, empty spaces in the Park mansion in contrast to the cramped Kim apartment. Wide angles exaggerate the spaces.
  • 50mm lenses – The standard lens that most closely approximates natural human vision. Used for important conversation scenes to give them a sense of realism.
  • 85mm, 100mm lenses – Medium telephoto lenses used for many scenes to achieve a shallow depth of field and textured background blur. This aesthetic is a signature of the film’s look.
  • 18mm lens – An ultra wide-angle used sparingly for a few scenes demanding an extreme wide field of view, like exterior shots of the houses.
  • Zoom lenses – Allowed the camera to zoom in slowly on subjects during emotional moments. Created an unsettling effect when used as the “POV of a spying voyeur” focused on the Parks.

Kyung-pyo artfully employed each lens for its unique perspective and level of distortion to fit the story’s needs. The lens choices contributed greatly to Parasite’s cinematography.

What is the message of Parasite movie?

Parasite conveys a powerful message about wealth inequality and class divisions through its story. Some of the key messages include:

  • The extensive wealth gap between classes fosters resentment and allows the wealthy to exploit those in poverty.
  • Lower income families are often hardworking and resourceful, countering stereotypes of laziness.
  • Prejudice based on economics and appearance alone is extremely misguided.
  • Desperate poverty can drive otherwise moral people to lie and commit crimes in pursuit of security.
  • Cross-class friendships and relationships face immense, often insurmountable barriers in a stratified society.
  • The wealthy benefit from and perpetuate a system that maintains their privilege at the expense of the poor.

Ultimately, Parasite argues that the vast gulf between the haves and have-nots creates a cycle of injustice, corruption, and tragedy at both ends of the spectrum.

How are lines used in Parasite?

Director Bong Joon-ho uses lines, both literal and symbolic, as a recurring visual motif in Parasite. Some examples:

  • Literal lines that divide the Parks’ pristine home from the grubby Kim basement apartment. They accentuate differences in wealth.
  • Lines of people’s arms show coordinated deception by the Kims as they infiltrate the Park household.
  • Lines of the neighborhood map underline how close yet far the Kim and Park homes are.
  • Dialogue about “crossing the line” refers to how opportunistic actions begin morally and potentially become dangerous.
  • Credit card lines trace paths to wealth but divide people.
  • Lines on stone symbolize hard barriers between rich and poor.

The lines demarcate separation and inequality while tracing desire, ambition, and connection between people divided by circumstance. The motif sticks with viewers.

Is Parasite a realist film?

Parasite contains elements of cinematic realism, though it also has allegorical and metaphorical dimensions. Aspects that align it with realism:

  • It deals with relatable, everyday themes of jobs, money, and family in contemporary South Korea vs far flung fantasy.
  • The production design of homes and neighborhoods strives for authenticity in its depiction of living conditions across classes.
  • The plot reveals plausible means of infiltrating a household through scheme and deception.
  • The acting uses a naturalistic performance style suitable for the serious domestic drama.
  • The cinematography often utilizes realist techniques like deep focus and eye-level shots.

However, the story also functions as a dark satire and morality tale, using hyperbole and symbolism to comment on class issues versus merely documenting reality. This pushes it outside a pure realist style. Overall it blends realism with other modes.

What true story is Parasite based on?

Parasite is not based directly on a specific true event or story. The plot and characters were imagined by director/co-writer Bong Joon-ho and co-writer Han Jin-won.

However, the film’s themes around wealth inequality and class tensions in South Korea were influenced by real-world societal issues. Bong wanted to explore contemporary problems in Korean society through an unpredictable, fictional story.

The film’s examination of poverty, crime, resentment across classes, and consumerism gone awry stem from realities in South Korea and other nations with extreme income gaps. But these serve as inspiration rather than the movie portraying or adapting any particular real events. Parasite ultimately functions as a stylized, allegorical tale rather than a literal true story.

Who designed the house in Parasite?

The striking architectural houses featured in Parasite were designed by production designer Lee Ha-jun to realize director Bong Joon-ho’s vision.

Lee designed the sleek, modernist mansion occupied by the wealthy Park family. He conveyed their cold, empty affluence via open spaces and a minimalist style.

He also designed the cramped, semi-basement apartment where the impoverished Kim family resides. Clutter and obstructed views inform their poverty and lack of prospects.

To create the homes, Lee drew inspiration from real contemporary houses in South Korea but exaggerated elements to better serve the film’s themes. For example, the Parks’ house was made more sterile and angular.

Specific details like stairs also linked the homes compositionally and thematically. Lee’s production design played a major role in establishing Parasite’s setting and class divide.

How is class shown in Parasite?

Parasite portrays the vast gulf between upper and lower classes in multiple ways:

  • The Park mansion is sleek, open, and bathed in natural light versus the Kim home which is cramped, cluttered and dim.
  • The Parks wear pristine designer clothes while the Kims wear grubby, casual clothes.
  • The smell of the Kims home is repeatedly mentioned as a class marker.
  • Mr. Park admires his son’s artistic talent while Mr. Kim struggles to find work for basic needs.
  • The Parks throw extravagant parties while the Kims battle just to find jobs.
  • The Parks take world travel and tutors for granted. The Kims can’t afford college.
  • The Parks don’t notice their privilege while the Kims resent their disadvantage.

Both explicit visual cues and subtle details consistently reveal the economic and cultural divide between the classes. This gulf drives the film’s central conflicts.

Is the Parasite house CGI?

The exteriors of the houses seen in Parasite were real physical locations, not computer generated CGI. Production designer Lee Ha-jun scouted and selected actual houses in Seoul to use for shooting.

However, the interiors seen of the Park mansion and Kim apartment were custom sets built on sound stages. This allowed the production designer and cinematographer to carefully control and tailor the interior spaces to serve the story’s needs, like adjusting room sizes and corridors.

Certain minor set extensions and city views outside the windows were achieved with digital effects. But the main houses were practical builds only enhanced by VFX, not digitally created. Real locations and constructed sets were vital to grounding the story in a tangible, realistic setting instead of CGI environments.

So while not 100% pure location shooting, Parasite primarily relied on meticulously designed real sets for the signature houses rather than digital creations.

Who edited Parasite?

Parasite was edited by Korean film editor Yang Jin-mo. Yang has a long history of collaborating with Parasite’s director Bong Joon-ho, having edited several of his previous films like Snowpiercer, Mother, and The Host.

Yang has said the hardest scene for him to edit in Parasite was the climactic party scene where the Kim family infiltrates the Park house and a fight ensues during a heavy rainstorm. The scene involved balancing multiple characters and complex interweaving action that builds to an emotional climax. Careful editing was essential to pull off the pivotal scene effectively.

Beyond individual scenes, Yang’s editing plays a huge role in the pacing, humor, and suspense of the overall film. Cutting on action and movement helps drive the story forward rhythmically. The editing earned high praise as a key ingredient in Parasite’s excellence.

Is Parasite a political film?

Parasite contains political themes and social commentary, but director Bong Joon-ho has stated the film is not meant to be overtly political. Key ways it incorporates political elements:

  • It explores income and class inequality through its contrasting households, providing social criticism of disparities.
  • The story reveals biases and assumptions characters make based on class and language.
  • The plot depicts how far the dispossessed may go to get basic security, acting illegally. This critiques a system of haves vs have-nots.
  • The ending provides an emotional but ambiguous climax involving a violent uprising and protest, hinting at revolutionary change.

However, Bong wanted to focus on crafting an unpredictable, engaging story rather than preach an explicit political message. The political ideas serve the narrative rather than overwhelming it. While political at its core, it’s ultimately a human drama.

Which scene in Parasite does the editor say was the hardest for him to edit?

Parasite editor Yang Jin-mo has named the climactic party scene as the most challenging to edit due to all its moving parts. The scene involves the Kim family infiltrating the Park home during a rainstorm and birthday party, leading to a fight with the Parks.

Yang has said balancing the characters’ perspectives during the chaos while maintaining emotional momentum was very difficult in the editing room. The scene combines suspense, violence, intense rain, music, and complex fight choreography that builds to a dramatic crescendo.

The scene constantly shifts between different character’s points of view as it escalates, requiring intricate editing decisions. The scene took two months to complete but the hard work resulted in one of Parasite’s most iconic sequences.

Is Parasite a gothic movie?

Parasite is not considered a gothic film, as it does not contain the key elements that define the gothic genre:

  • No supernatural or paranormal activity/creatures
  • Not set in a remote, ominous location like a castle
  • No recurring gothic tropes like doomed romance or mysteries
  • No medieval setting

However, Parasite does have a darker, morally ambiguous tone at times with thematics of class tensions coming to the surface. The flooding sequence also lends an element of horror.

While Parasite may evoke unease, suspense, and social critiques reminiscent of some gothic works, it lacks the requisite traits and conventions to classify it solidly as part of the gothic film canon. Director Bong Joon-ho’s unique blending of genres makes Parasite distinctive from classic gothic cinema.


The cinematography of Parasite is one of the many things that makes the film so visually stunning and atmospheric. The film’s use of lighting, framing, and color is masterfully done, and it helps to create a film that is both visually arresting and deeply meaningful.

Parasite Cinematography Analysis

In conclusion, the cinematography of Parasite is a masterclass in how to use visual elements to tell a story. The film’s use of lighting, framing, and color is all perfectly executed, and it helps to create a film that is both visually stunning and deeply meaningful. The film’s cinematography is one of the many reasons why Parasite is considered to be one of the best films of the 21st century. Consider reading >>>> Paris, Texas Cinematography Analysis to learn more.


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