South Korean director Bong Joon Ho has a major hit — and an Academy Awards frontrunner — on his hands with “Parasite.” The dark comedy has earned more than $22 million in the United States alone, adding to a worldwide total topping $126 million. Poised to take home the Best International Feature Oscar on February 9, “Parasite” has also led myriad best-of-the-year lists from critics, including among IndieWire’s own staff.
And while the film has been dissected and discussed ad infinitum since opening October, proving to be one of those rare talked-about movies that delivers on its hype, audiences will soon have a chance to see the film in a whole new way. Next month, a black-and-white version of “Parasite” will be presented at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in South Holland.
The Film Stage points out that Bong has always wanted to make a film in the format. Bong previously experimented with the medium back in 2013, when he presented a black-and-white reimagining of his 2009 drama “Mother” at the Mar Del Plata International Film Festival. At a later Q&A about the black-and-white version of “Mother,” Bong said he was inspired by the potential of shooting that way after watching a screening of F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent horror movie “Nosferatu.” “It was a very purified experience,” Bong said, harking back to “a very pure state of film, like a salmon swimming upstream.”
Bong isn’t the first director to re-filter one of his films in black and white, as director George Miller previously did so with his action epic “Mad Max: Fury Road” — another movie landing back in the conversation as it tops many of the best-of-the-decade lists currently unspooling as 2019 comes to a close. In 2017, director James Mangold released “Logan Noir,” his black-and-white version of the superhero film starring Hugh Jackman. The home-video release of Frank Darabont’s Stephen King adaptation “The Mist” also received a black-and-white update.
The Blu-ray of “Parasite” arrives January 28, about a week ahead of the 2020 Academy Awards, but there’s no word yet on whether that disc will include the black-and-white remix. You can still see “Parasite” in its full-color version, still hanging on in theaters and expected to receive continued play through the end of Oscar season in February.