Photography Analysis

Parasite Scene Analysis

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Written By Nate Torres

In this guide, I’ll be analyzing the composition, color, and lighting from popular scenes from the award-winning film “Parasite.”

This film is renowned for its striking cinematography and memorable visual frames.

As photographers, there is a lot we can learn from the cinematography of this film.

I’ll be covering:

  • The composition used in these scenes
  • The color used in these scenes
  • The lighting used in these scenes

Let’s dive right in.

If you’re more of a visual learner, be sure to watch the video version of this article:

Composition, Color, & Lighting Analysis - Parasite
Composition, Color, & Lighting Analysis – Parasite

Parasite Scene Analysis

Here are popular scenes from Parasite.

We can analyze these scenes as photographers to uncover how to better understand composition, color, and lighting.

The theme of the film itself is about greed and class discrimination between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.

Keep this theme in mind as we analyze the scenes.

This way you can better understand the reasoning and choices made in terms of composition, color, and lighting.

Spoiler Warning:

If you haven’t seen this film yet, I may be spoiling the story so be sure you watch the film first!

1. Opening Scene

The first scene we’ll be looking at is the opening scene.

Background:

Without giving too much away, this scene involves Ki-woo using his phone.

Throughout the movie, the phone is used as a key element.

It’s a tool used for communication and planning and serves as a metaphor for connection and disconnection within the narrative.

As a storytelling tool, this scene is also used to contrast against the final scene in the movie as well.

Composition:

In terms of composition, Ki-woo is positioned off-center in the frame.

Parasite Scene 1 - Off-Frame Composition
Parasite Scene 1 – Off-Frame Composition

He is looking down at his phone, holding it with both hands.

His placement within the frame and the empty negative space around him, suggests isolation and focus.

The use of minimal background elements of the sofa and fan also lend to the simplicity and financial situation of his family.

Color:

The color harmony used in this scene is analogous.

The color palette used consists of muted earthy tones such as the beige on the wall and the dark greens of the sofa and clothes.

The lack of saturation and vibrancy is used to mirror the lack of vitality and prosperity in Ki-woo’s life.

Parasite Scene 1 - Color
Parasite Scene 1 – Color

Lighting:

The lighting used in the scene consists of high contrast lighting, with a sharp light source coming from the side creating a form of rim light or side light.

This type of lighting adds a symbolic chiaroscuro effect, used to suggest duality or internal conflict.

The lighting used also helps to create a reflective glow on the phone, which is the main focal point in the scene.

This indicates the importance of this device.

Parasite Scene 1 - Lighting
Parasite Scene 1 – Lighting

2. Shared Bathroom

The second scene we’ll be looking at is the scene of the shared bathroom.

Background:

This scene depicts the characters trying to find a Wi-Fi signal, which is difficult to find in their semi-basement home.

It’s a moment that shows both their struggles and resourcefulness.

They find a way to stay connected to the world that always seems just out of reach due to their socio-economic status.

Composition:

The composition used in this scene is framing.

The characters are crammed into a tight space, with the toilet and wall framing their positioning.

This framing and physical closeness enhance the sense of confinement, lack of personal space in their lives, and the feeling of being trapped.

Further enhancing their lower socio-economic status.

Parasite Scene 2 - Composition
Parasite Scene 2 – Composition

Color:

The color harmony used in this scene is analogous.

The color palette used in the scene is dominated by browns and yellows, often associated with decay or disrepair.

These colors align with the themes throughout the film such as poverty and the grim realities of lower class.

Their clothes also blend in with this color scheme adding to the characters’ integration with their environment.

Parasite Scene 2 - Color
Parasite Scene 2 – Color

Lighting:

The lighting in this scene isn’t too special and is mainly used just to light the set.

We have natural light coming from the small windows behind them, adding contrast between light and shadow.

Their faces are lit with the room light in front of them.

Parasite Scene 2 - Lighting
Parasite Scene 2 – Lighting

3. The Scholar’s Rock

The third scene I’ll be analyzing is the gifting of the Scholar’s Rock.

Background:

In this scene, the Scholar’s Rock is gifted to the Kim family, which is supposed to bring them wealth.

Their fixation on the rock underscores their hope and desperation for a better life.

A symbol for social mobility and the illusion of opportunity.

Composition:

The composition used in this scene is framing, layering, and visual triangles.

The shot is framed with Ki-woo in the foreground holding the rock and Min in the background.

Parasite Scene 3 - Framing Composition
Parasite Scene 3 – Framing Composition

Ki-woo is in sharp focus while Min is out of focus due to a wide aperture and shallow depth of field.

This composition allows the viewer to focus on Ki-woo and the rock, which is a significant motif used throughout the film.

The characters along with the rock also create a visual triangle between them.

Parasite Scene 3 - Visual Triangle
Parasite Scene 3 – Visual Triangle

This is a common technique used to achieve balance and focus.

Color:

The color harmony in this scene is analogous.

The color palette used are desaturated greens and blues which can be seen throughout most of the film.

The lack of vibrancy is used once again to emphasize the economic struggle and bleak aspects of their lives.

Parasite Scene 3 - Color
Parasite Scene 3 – Color

Lighting:

The lighting used in this scene is soft light coming from the right side.

This lighting allows us to focus on the facial expressions of Ki-woo while he is looking at the rock.

Parasite Scene 3 - Lighting
Parasite Scene 3 – Lighting

4. Street Night

The fourth scene we’ll be looking at is the street night.

Background:

In this scene, Ki-woo meets with Min about an opportunity.

It’s a moment tied between two characters of different socio-economic statuses.

Composition:

The composition used in this scene are leading lines and framing

This scene is shot from a distance, allowing us to be an observer to the unfolding event.

The alley acts as a leading line, drawing our eye through the scene and creating depth.

Parasite Scene 4 - Leading Lines
Parasite Scene 4 – Leading Lines

The alley and store also act as framing mechanisms for both characters, possibly symbolizing the disconnect between the two classes.

Parasite Scene 4 - Framing
Parasite Scene 4 – Framing

With the road leading to higher ground for Min and a cheap fruit market for Ki-woo.

Color:

The color harmony used in this scene is complementary.

The colors used in this scene are mainly blues, greens, yellow, and oranges.

The complementary nature of the colors being opposite on the color wheel adds to the opposite status of both characters.

Parasite Scene 4 - Color
Parasite Scene 4 – Color

Lighting:

The lighting used in the scene are subdued ambient lights from the street lamps and shop lights.

The lighting in this scene lends to the mood and contrast within the scene.

Parasite Scene 4 - Lighting
Parasite Scene 4 – Lighting

5. Journey to the Parks

The fifth scene encompasses three individual distinct frames that showcases Ki-woo’s walking journey to the Parks.

Background:

The three images encompass Ki-woo’s first walk to the rich Park house.

Composition:

The composition within these frames incorporates leading lines.

The first frame shows Ki-woo leaving his house and as you can see it is on even ground:

Parasite Scene 5 - First Frame Leading Lines
Parasite Scene 5 – First Frame Leading Lines

The second frame shows Ki-woo on the bottom of the road with an s-curve leading line leading down to him:

Parasite Scene 5 - Second Frame Leading Lines
Parasite Scene 5 – Second Frame Leading Lines

This leading line is important because it shows he is symbolically “climbing up” to get to the “rich” house of the Parks.

The third frame shows Ki-woo now at the top of the road with an s-curve leading down:

Ki-woo now has “climbed up” and can walk to the Parks house.

Parasite Scene 5 - Third Frame Leading Lines
Parasite Scene 5 – Third Frame Leading Lines

Colors:

The color harmony used in these frames is analogous.

The colors used are green and yellow and have more saturation and vibrancy than the earlier parts of the film when he was in a lower socio-economic area.

The colors help symbolize the disparity of wealth and life.

Parasite Scene 5 - Color
Parasite Scene 5 – Color

Lighting:

The lighting used in these frames is natural light during midday.

This midday natural light allows there to be contrast between the sunlight and the main character’s suit.

This allows him to stand out within the frames.

Parasite Scene 5 - Lighting
Parasite Scene 5 – Lighting

6. The Introduction

The sixth scene encompasses Ki-woo’s entrance into the Park house and his introduction with the Park wife.

Background:

In this scene Ki-woo is looking outside watching the housekeeper Moon-gwang wake up the wife of the house so she can meet Ki-woo.

Composition:

The composition within the scene includes layering and framing.

This scene is composed of a foreground, middle ground, and background.

The foreground consists of Ki-woo, the middle ground consists of the maid and the wife, and the background consists of the greenery in the back.

Parasite Scene 6 - Layering Composition
Parasite Scene 6 – Layering Composition

This layering creates a sense of separation as we the viewers are placed in the perspective of the onlooker.

Watching the more affluent world as an outsider both physically with the glass wall and metaphorically.

This scene also uses framing.

Parasite Scene 6 - Framing Composition
Parasite Scene 6 – Framing Composition

Both Ki-woo and the housekeeper are on one frame divided by the line in the glass wall while the wife is on the right frame.

If you’ve seen the film, you can recognize the symbolism of this framing choice as Ki-woo and the housekeeper are both in the same socio-economic status while the wife is in a different one.

Color:

The color harmony used in this scene is analogous.

The colors used are primarily greens with some yellows.

The colors are vibrant and rich, representing the allure and opulence of the wealthy lifestyle that is out of reach for Ki-woo.

Parasite Scene 6 - Color
Parasite Scene 6 – Color

Lighting:

The lighting in the scene is natural soft light.

This type of lighting helps contribute to the serene and idyllic setting of the Park house.

The brightness outside contrasting with the dimmer interior where Ki-woo is at further symbolizes the disparity between the two worlds the characters inhabit.

Parasite Scene 6 - Lighting
Parasite Scene 6 – Lighting

7. Sister Involvement

In the seventh scene, we analyze the scene where the sister of Ki-woo gets involved in helping the family as well.

Background:

This scene takes place within the Park family house when Ki-woo’s sister is about to speak with the Park husband and wife about their son.

Composition:

Similar to the previous scene we looked at, the composition used in this scene is a mix of layering and framing.

The foreground consists of the plant, the middle ground consists of the sister, and the background consists of the Park husband and wife.

Parasite Scene 7 - Composition
Parasite Scene 7 – Composition

This use of layering shows the separation and disconnect between the characters.

Color:

The color palette within this scene is analogous.

The colors used include greens, yellows, and oranges.

The overall colors in this scene create a soft glow that add to the homely and affluent atmosphere.

Parasite Scene 7 - Color
Parasite Scene 7 – Color

Lighting:

The lighting used in this scene is interior lighting used to highlight the main areas of action.

First, we have the lighting coming down the stairwell highlighting our character on the left.

Second, we have the lighting at the dinner table which highlights the Park husband and wife.

The lighting used and the contrast between the well-lit and darker areas amplifies the feeling that Ki-woo’s sister is also an outsider “looking in.”

Parasite Scene 7 - Lighting
Parasite Scene 7 – Lighting

8. The Last Supper

In the eighth scene we’ll be looking at the meal the Kims enjoy in the Park house.

Background:

The scene captures the moment when the Kim family enjoys the luxuries of the Park family’s home when they’re away.

It’s a critical point in the film where they indulge in a lifestyle that is far removed from their own.

Composition:

The composition used in this scene is nothing too special and mainly revolves around centered framing.

The father is the main focal point and he sits at the center of the frame along with the table.

Parasite Scene 8 - Composition
Parasite Scene 8 – Composition

Each character in this scene has a distinct space, yet they are connected.

This scene draws comparisons to the famous image The Last Supper and in a sense is the Kims’ last supper as well.

Parasite Scene 8 - Last Supper Comparison
Parasite Scene 8 – Last Supper Comparison

Color:

The color harmony used in this scene is analogous.

The colors include greens, oranges, and yellows.

This scene is very warm and natural, contrasting with the colder, harsher color scheme in the earlier scenes showing the stark reality of the Kim family’s socio-economic status.

Parasite Scene 8 - Color
Parasite Scene 8 – Color

Lighting:

The lighting used in this scene is warm, soft, and diffused.

Further adding to the sense that they are enjoying a moment of luxury opposed to the cold world they’re used to living in.

Parasite Scene 8 - Lighting
Parasite Scene 8 – Lighting

9. The Rainy Escape

In the ninth scene, we’ll be looking at the frames used when the Kims escape the Park family house in the rain.

Background:

After almost getting caught in the Park house, the Kims leave in the middle of the night during a rain storm back to their home.

Composition:

In each of these three frames, leading lines are used to symbolize the Kims are moving “back down” the socio-economic ladder as they make their way home.

The first frame uses the s-curve again to show movement:

Parasite Scene 9 - First Frame Composition
Parasite Scene 9 – First Frame Composition

The second frame uses a diagonal leading line to show the downward movement:

Parasite Scene 9 - Second Frame Composition
Parasite Scene 9 – Second Frame Composition

The third frame uses another diagonal leading line to show the descent:

Parasite Scene 9 - Third Frame Composition
Parasite Scene 9 – Third Frame Composition

Color:

The color palette used is analogous.

The colors in these frames, with exception of the last frame are back to the cold combo of blue and green:

Parasite Scene 9 - Color First Frame
Parasite Scene 9 – Color First Frame

In the last frame, during their final “descent” before they reach home, the color red is used:

Parasite Scene 9 - Color Last Frame
Parasite Scene 9 – Color Last Frame

This red color, now being used for their home, can symbolize the danger and sort of “hell” that they now find themselves in with a flooded home and current situation back at the Park family house.

Lighting:

The lighting used in these frames is very dark.

This further emphasizes the current situation the Kims are now in.

Parasite Scene 9 - Lighting
Parasite Scene 9 – Lighting

10. The Dream

In the tenth scene, we’ll be looking at one of the final moments in the film.

Background:

In this scene, the father is leaving the basement to reunite with his family in a dream that Ki-woo is having.

Composition:

In terms of composition, the father is positioned off-center, walking from a brighter area into a more shadowed space.

This represents his transition or movement from being trapped to being free:

Parasite Scene 10 - Composition
Parasite Scene 10 – Composition

The use of negative space with the vastness of the room hints at the feeling of isolation and now freedom he is currently experiencing.

Color:

The color harmony used in this scene is analogous.

The colors used are mostly soft yellows, browns, and greens.

The dominant color are the yellows emphasizing the aspect of freedom and joy.

Parasite Scene 10 - Color
Parasite Scene 10 – Color

Lighting:

The lighting used in this scene is natural light.

The direct light creates a silhouette of the father that you can see on the wall.

Silhouettes often represent anonymity or a loss of identity, a theme that resonates with the movie’s exploration of class.

Parasite Scene 10 - Lighting
Parasite Scene 10 – Lighting

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