Written and illustrated by Bong Joon-ho
Published by Grand Central Publishing
If you’ve seen Parasite, you’ll know it’s a film which pays an incredible amount of attention to visual detail, with each individual shot telling a story in itself. Director Bong Joon-ho has an gift when it comes to visual storytelling, with his painstakingly detailed storyboard illustrations being collected in the beautiful new book Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards, which will be released on May 19.
While a book consisting largely of colourless storyboard illustrations may not be quite as relaxing or easy to read as a traditional graphic novel, this is still the closest we’ll come to discovering how Parasite came to life in Bong’s mind before the start of principle photography. He clearly knew exactly how he wanted his film to unfold visually, and this book essentially serves as a window into his thought process. The storyboards are also accompanied by matching captions consisting of dialogue and occasional descriptions to move the story along. Sprinkled in throughout the book are still photos from the film, so you can see how accurately Bong was able to replicate his storyboards. Needless to say, you need to watch Parasite at least once before reading this.
Interestingly, his drawings also include a number of small details which you might miss in the film unless you watch closely, such as the wicked smile on the face of Chung-sook, the mother from the poor family, as she successfully infiltrates the home of the rich family without them suspecting anything. Parasite is clearly a film which can be interpreted in many different ways, but it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that Chung-sook may have harboured malicious intentions. Although one small area of disappointment was that Park Da-song’s now infamous self-portrait, which Kim Ki-woo mistakes for a chimpanzee, was not depicted clearly in the storyboards. Because it would have been great to see how Bong originally visualised this absurd image before bringing it to life onscreen.
And as with the film, if you truly want to enjoy Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards, you may need to overlook some of the more unbelievable aspects of the story. Such as how the mother of the rich family fires her housekeeper who she wrongly believes has tuberculosis, and yet she has no issues hiring a man who holds up what she believes to be a bloody napkin without wearing gloves. A certain amount of suspension of disbelief may be required at some points, but that’s a small price to pay.
In another life, Bong could have became an architect instead of a filmmaker. Because the last few pages of the book consist of a series of extremely detailed and intricate diagrams of the house, with everything from the position of the furniture to the placement and proportions of the entrances and exits laid out in painstaking detail. This might sound like a cliché thing to say, but the house was clearly a character in itself, and these blueprints truly bought it to life. Bong clearly spent a considerable amount of time planning exactly how he wanted the house to look onscreen, which is all the more impressive when you consider that most of the exterior shots of the house were enhanced using CGI to make it look exactly as he visualised it.
It goes without saying at this point that Parasite was one of the best movies of 2019, and this book showcases the incredible amount of work Bong put into the pre-production process. He clearly understands that film is a visual medium, something which many other directors overlook, and Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards serves as a testament to his incredible skills when it comes to visual storytelling. If you enjoyed Parasite, you need to purchase this book.
Parasite was nothing short of a masterpiece, and Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards serves as a window into the mind of a filmmaker with an incredible eye for visual detail. Fans of the film absolutely need to read this book.