Parasite has been getting all sorts of buzz this awards season, and it will undoubtedly be getting more attention from audiences now that it’s nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Even though Parasite is available to own on digital and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD next week, soon there will be a whole new way to experience the compelling, suspenseful thriller.
NEON has announced that Parasite will be getting a limited re-release in theaters in black and white, something that director Bong Joon-ho has long wanted to do as a filmmaker. And this wasn’t some last minute decision made in order to make a little bit more cash. A black and white cut of the movie has been completed since before Parasite premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and now it’s coming to theaters in the United States.
An official press release from NEON announced the Parasite black and white cut getting released in theaters. However, the bad news is that it has an extremely limited release. It will debut at the International Film Festival Rotterdam at the end of January, and after that, it will only screened at the Walter Reade Theater in New York on January 30, at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles on January 31. Then from January 31 through February 6, it will be available at the Francesca Beale Theater, also in New York. The east and west coasts just get all the cool stuff, don’t they?
Releasing Parasite in black and white fulfills a “a life-long dream” of director Bong Joon-ho. His primary inspiration for this comes from the 1922 silent horror film Nosferatu, but a number of filmmakers have fueled his desire to release a film in black and white. The director said in a statement:
“Cinema was black and white in the very beginning. 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. 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; so for the first time, we digitally changed my film Mother into black and white after it was completed and released. Thankfully, it doesn’t require a huge budget to do so in this digital age, so the cinematographer re-filtered the entire film into black and white, meticulously adjusting the contrast and density for every shot with my help.”
If you’re wondering just how seeing Parasite in black and white changes the experience, for Jong-ho, he said, “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. It also further highlighted the actors’ performances and seemed to revolve more around the characters.”
But the director also held back more about the experience of watching the movie in black and white, adding, “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.”
Unfortunately since a black and white cut of the movie isn’t being made available on the home video release, most won’t be able to see the movie in this way. But maybe there will be a Criterion Collection release or something like that sometime down the road that will let audiences see the black and white version of Parasite
Stay tuned to see how Parasite fares at the Oscars on February 9.
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