Parasite: Black-and-White Version review – a sophisticated twist on a modern masterpiece

Bong Joon-ho’s Best Picture winner might already be perfect, but a new monochrome version only serves to make it all the more striking

Bong Joon-ho’s subversive masterpiece Parasite might be one of the most vibrant, dangerous films we were lucky enough to see in the 2010s – a film delicious for all its colours, both literally and psychologically. And so the prospect of a monochrome version might seem unnecessary – not misguided, exactly, but how can you improve on perfection?

The black and white take is, thankfully, entirely worth your time. The stripped back design gives a sense of more space, of richer textures, and asks the viewer to focus on various flickers and sparkles even more than usual, purely because the way they dance is now so much more immediate and unobstructed.

Seeing the world in black and white draws greater attention to the production design – the sleek kitchen tops, crisp bedroom linen, rugged and unruly stones. In a story about class and reputation, where performance and illusion are everything, transposing the story without the colour gives a new kind of sophistication that just makes the payoff all the more impressive.

There’s also a greater, purer focus on the actors’ faces too, fake smiles now seem plasticised, eyes filled with terror glint with even greater urgency. Because our eyes have no reason to wander to anything else in the frame – a stretch of slime-green grass, a splash of cherry-red blood -you stay locked in on the people falling loose and fast down the rabbit hole.

When Director Bong explained his reasoning for releasing this new version earlier this year in Rotterdam, he said that a lot of older movies he loves, considered classics, are in black and white. He joked that his goal, here, is for people to maybe consider his movie a classic because of its desaturated hues. As the past 18 months have shown, there was certainly no need to worry about that – but another reason to revisit and reaffirm the sheer might of such a classic, only now with a different palette? Well, it would just be rude not to.

Parasite: Black-and-White Version is now showing in select cinemas and streaming on Curzon Home Cinema.

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