With the upcoming black-and-white release of Parasite, the film’s director Bong Joon Ho discusses how he collaborated with his cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo and his colorist to achieve the new version, admitting in a report from Alex Ritman, “I think it may be vanity on my part, but when I think of the classics, they’re all in black and white. So I had this idea that if I turned my films into black and white then they’d become classics.”
“Cinema was black and white in the very beginning,” Bong previously said, “There was a time when films were only in black and white, and even throughout the ‘40s and ‘60s when color films came into the picture, there were numerous films still in black and white.
“Black and white is the origin of cinema,” he continued. “Although I became a filmmaker in the 2000s, I idealize the beautiful black and white films by Renoir, Fellini, Kurosawa, John Ford, and the beautiful cinematography of Gregg Toland. I always had this desire to create a black and white film which was shared by my cinematographer Hong Kyung Pyo.”
With this version, Ritman relays, Bong says “viewers [are] given a stronger sense of contrast between the rich family and the poor.”
“We can focus more on the texture,” the director explains.
“It will be fascinating to see how the viewing experience changes when an identical film is presented in black and white,” Bong has said previously. “I watched the black and white version twice now, and at times the film felt more like a fable and gave me the strange sense that I was watching a story from old times.
“The second time I watched it, the film felt more realistic and sharp as if I was being cut by a blade,” he continued. “It also further highlighted the actors’ performances and seemed to revolve more around the characters. I had many fleeting impressions of this new version, but I do not wish to define them before it is presented.
“I hope everyone in the audience can compare their own experiences from the color version and find their own path to Parasite in black and white.”