The action of Bong Joon-ho‘s Parasite revolves around the film's stunning, minimalist house- built by a fictional architect and owned by the affluent Park family. Bong, who just won Best Director Oscar for the film, went to incredible lengths in using the house to examine class warfare — he had the entire structure built from scratch.
It turns out it took Bong, and production designer, Lee Ha Jun years to create Parasite's “own universe inside this film.” Scroll down to see how they pulled it off.
The Ultra-Expensive Furniture
“The production designer was having a nervous breakdown every day,” Bong told Vulture. “The props, furniture, and paintings [in the Park house] were really expensive, so they would always tell the cast and crew, Be careful!” The mid-century Scandinavian style furniture was custom-made by South Korean artist and carpenter, Bahk Jong Sun.
Smell is a significant theme in the film and even details like the trash can needed to implicate the Park family's aversion to foreign smells. “The trash can cost like $2,300! It was German,” explained Bong. “Me and my crew members were like, What the fuck? What kind of idiot would buy a trash can that’s going to smell anyway?”
The Meticulous Architecture
Bong told Indie Wire that he had a meticulous design in mind that would allow each of the three "teams" to infiltrate each other's spaces, and hide at various points in the film.
“I really prioritized the blocking that was outlined in Director Bong’s script. We had a lot of conversations while looking over the floor plan he’d sketched while writing the script,” explained Lee. This allowed characters to observe each other from their respective levels.
Bong explained that he envisioned the blocking elements as he was writing the script, “like if someone is in a certain position, the other character had to spy on them; if someone’s coming in, another person had to hide behind a corner. So these very basic spatial relationships between the characters were already established.”
Scroll through the gallery below to see the floorplan.
Like other “staircase movies,” Parasite uses the familiar architectural feature to explore issues of class and privilege. In Parasite it's used to great effect as the key visual element.
Incredibly, Lee and his team built the entire basement and entrance to the secret bunker underneath as a singular unit, from the kitchen at the top to the very bottom. “The reason why we did this was there was a scene that goes down the entire space with a steady cam, and it was the director’s specific request that the scene proceeds in one breath, without stopping,” he told Vulture.
Watch the trailer below, and see how the #BongHive is responding to the Oscars win here.