“Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” — Bong Joon-ho
South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho has established himself as one of the most unique voices in world cinema. His films are famous for their experiments with genre, black humour and bizarre takes on social issues. Bong Joon-ho gained a cult following after his directorial debut Barking Dogs Don’t Bite (2000) and has gone on to make wonderful films like Memories of Murder (2003) and Snowpiercer (2013). His latest social thriller Parasite (2019) was the first foreign language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Parasite, the now famed thriller, which tells the story of a poor family who schemes to become employed by a wealthy family by infiltrating their household, emerged as the big winner at the 2020 Academy Awards when it wrote itself into the annals of cinematic record books. Joon Ho’s film edged out competition from the likes Martin Scorsese film The Irishman, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Sam Mendes’ World War epic film 1917 and more to make Hollywood history.
But for Joon Ho, a wonderfully humble creative, just being able to sit alongside his contemporaries was victory enough. Having studied the art of film with a meticulous eye for detail, his love for cinema knows no bounds. In fact, when picking up the most coveted award of the evening on that special night at the Oscars, the director couldn’t help but pour out his admiration for his fellow nominees. “After winning best international feature, I thought I was done for the day and was ready to relax,” Bong said after winning Best Director. “Thank you so much. When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is that, ‘The most personal is the most creative.'”
He added: “That quote is from ‘our great Martin Scorsese’. When I was in school, I studied Martin Scorsese’s films. Just to be nominated was a huge honour. I never thought I would win. When people in the U.S. were not familiar with my films, Quentin always put my films on his list. He’s here, thank you so much. Quentin, I love you. And Todd and Sam, great directors that I admire. If the Academy allows, I would like to get a Texas chainsaw, split the award into five and share it with all of you. Thank you. I will drink until next morning, thank you.” In that speech alone, it shows the humility and the respect Bong celebrates for his art and those who helped shape him.
Here, in a collated list of his favorite films from various interviews over the years, including a top 10 list for Criterion, a poll for Sight & Sound, and selections he made for his Film at Lincoln Center retrospective, we look at some. ofthe pictures. tohave shaped him.
With Scorsese, Hithcock and more, check out the list below.
Bong Joon-ho’s 25 favourite films:
- Things to Come (William Cameron Menzies – 1936)
- The Wages of Fear (Henri-Georges Clouzot – 1953)
- Touch of Evil (Orson Welles – 1958)
- Lola Montès (Max Ophüls – 1959)
- The 400 Blows (François Truffaut – 1959)
- The Housemaid (Kim Ki-young – 1960)
- Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock -1960)
- Intentions of Murder (Shohei Imamura – 1964)
- Seconds (John Frankenheimer – 1966)
- Deliverance (John Boorman – 1972)
- Nashville (Robert Altman – 1975)
- The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg – 1976)
- Io Island (Kim Ki-young – 1977)
- Vengeance is Mine (Imamura Shohei – 1979)
- Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese – 1980)
- The Thing (John Carpenter – 1982)
- Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman – 1982)
- The Ballad of Narayama (Shohei Imamura – 1984)
- A City of Sadness (Hsiao-hsien Hou – 1989)
- Life is Sweet (Mike Leigh – 1991)
- Fargo (Joel and Ethan Coen – 1995)
- Rushmore (Wes Anderson – 1998)
- Cure (Kurosawa Kiyoshi – 1998)
- Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze – 1999)
Bong Joon-ho told The Criterion Collection that he considers François Truffaut’s 1959 French New Wave classic to be “the most beautiful feature film debut in the history of cinema.” The film marked the genesis of Truffaut’s legendary cinematic character, Antoine Doinel. The 400 Blows was at the helm of the burgeoning French New Wave, a beautiful exploration of a childhood which is influenced by flawed role models and crime. The 400 Blows also features on Martin Scorsese’s list of favourite films.