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Admin 21 Sep 2021

Storytelling with Locations ft. Parasite

In this series of blogs, we will be discussing the art of storytelling with the help of locations. How a certain location can change what the character feels or says. The dynamics in the film are based on the ‘Wh’ questions, Who, Why, What, When and WHERE! Where a certain scene happens makes a lot of difference and we are here to look at some films that win in this segment. Looking at the films from a location perspective. This mostly contains the locations in general, like the house the character lives in, part of the city, city, country, travelling mode, etc. Everything in general about that will be taken under consideration.

(You might get a few spoilers, so we would suggest reading this after you’ve watched the film.)

A film as good as this one has more than one way of telling the story. As we are well aware of, a film consists of many different types of arts, starting from story writing, screenplay writing, cinematography, editing, marketing, and the list would go on. But sadly, there is one art form that is highly ignored and not looked into, and that is Location Recce. How you choose to picturise the scene and where you choose to do so matters a lot and when the storyline consists of showing a divide in characters, these two questions make a lot of difference. Here we will jot be talking about the ‘how’ part, we will be covering the ‘where’ part, the locations part.

A team of a film like ‘Parasite’ and a director like Bong Joon Ho would never miss a chance of being perfect at location recce by any means possible. If you have watched the film at least once, you would know what I am talking about. Every single thing about this film was well thought and well executed, and this is clearly an understatement. It is a legendary film and will remain one no matter how much time passes.

Let’s begin with the first shot of the film where we are introduced to a semi basement house and a family that lives in it. This is where the work of location recce shows. Now the reason why we say this is very complicated yet quite clear. We see a working class family, folding Pizza Boxes and worrying about the lost Wi-Fi connection, which wasn’t theirs to begin with. The minute we look at the entire picture of a family in old ragged clothes, drying their socks in front of the only ventilation point available, and searching a point to catch the stolen Wi-Fi network, in a Semi-Basement house yelling at a man who is peeing right in front of their ventilation outlet, we get the feeling of poverty, struggle, tricks and tactics, survival instincts, and Darwin’s Theory. “The survival of the fittest”.

The director of the film Bong Joon Ho said that, "A semi-basement also means semi-above the ground, there is a little hope there." To see what he has actually stated do watch the link given below. There is a whole deduction of what is said in the first scene.

When the son of the house gets a job in a household, we see him going upstairs at first, from the point of view of the family and when he nears the rich home, we see the scene from the rich people’s perspective, where he is climbing up on a slope. But the slope that he is climbing is so steep that we can’t see the end of it, again symbolising the absence of empathy, or ignorance, or sheer arrogance. We see a huge wall at first, which has to be crossed using stairs that cannot be seen by a bywalker. You have to go to the other side of the wall to climb the stairs, creating a divide between the people inside and the ones who are on the road. Once you reach the door, you see so many layers, layers of security and walls and spaces and stairs again. The house where the boy gets the job is huge and unreachable for him. A space he might only dream of, but can’t reach.

As the story goes ahead, we see all the family members getting a job at the same house. While doing that, we see one of the best montages ever to be created in the history of filmmaking. We see the literal representation of “Rat Race’, stealing what someone has is the only way of getting what you want, replacement, elbowing each other, a true representation of the working class. Now the entire family is working in that home with fake identities and hence the name PARASITE! However, once everything is established and we get comfortable with the surroundings and happenings, the plot twist of the century takes place and we get hit with surprises one after the other. We see how the social classes are clearly and unapologetically divided in layers and literal layers, the first one is Homes,as in bungalows and flats, second one is semi-basements and the third one basement. How the division between riches and rags is done, The rich have homes, The poor have semi-basements and the ones in debts have to hide in the basements. When we see the family literally running away from their work home, we see them crossing 4 different levels of stairs, and six slopes, all downwards, clearly indicating the 2 sides of the city. Incidentally, as it is raining, we see all the water drains on one hand and all the water blocked on the second side of the city.


All the waste flowing from one (richer) place to the other (poorer) place, and getting blocked there. It is a very heinous thing to be happening to an entire neighbourhood, incidentally poor. A sign of a very cruel social structure again, indicating the waste and the poor class of the society reside together. 

There are so many instances in the film where you will find invisible walls between the characters. The inability of understanding and expressing is so huge in it, and the tactics on both sides of the coin, make it even more unbearable to watch the huge distance between them. The poor family is always way out of line, using their tactics and trying to reach out of the space that they are welcomed in, in contrast to the house or setting they live in. Whereas, even after having a large home, the rich family is almost closed and unwelcoming, talking about how people should stay in line or so. But both the families are almost very nice, the richer one even being naive. 

The film speaks so much through the spaces, that even if you don’t understand the language, you will understand the depth of what the person is saying. It is a heart wrenching and truthful film which laughs in the face of capitalism and also cries. A director as good as Bong Joon Ho would know exactly how it is done. He did not make this film into a masterpiece because he wanted to, he made this film into a masterpiece because he bloody well can!