The talk of Netflix recently was Squid Game. It seemed to come from nowhere, but it was actually another incredibly personal and inventive idea straight out of South Korea. Squid Game writer-director Hwang Dong-hyukrecently sat down with auteur and Oscar-winning filmmaker Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) to share an intimate conversation on the universal nature of Squid Game, what it's like to have gut feelings, and the courage it took to challenge the status quo of Hollywood and world cinema.
Check out this video from Netflix, and let's talk after.
On the surface level, you wouldn't think a TV series about a murderous game show and a film about servants to rich people would have a ton in common, but the underlying theme of a capitalist society crumbling thanks to the desperation of the masses and the cruelty of the ruling class seeps through. Seeing these two filmmakers in conversation is a breath of fresh air. I think they have huge things to talk about, and the conversation really got intimate.
One of the most fun parts of the convo was their talk about exposing actors like Jung Ho-yeon, Lee Jung-jae, and Oh Young-soo to an international audience. I really respected what these two had to say about how special it is to take an actor and give them something to do against type. And also to have actors who don't embody hero or villain, but who just read as people. That way they connect way more with the audience. I also respected how hard they've worked to actually find new actors, looking through casting books and reading new people to get the most talented people for the roles.
Another thing that rose to the surface here is the idea of universal themes. These two men are making movies and TV shows in their native country, but they have hits that traveled the world. The reason is that the universal themes inside the story connect with people from all backgrounds. They also do an excellent job of worldbuilding, allowing for specifics that make things real and interesting, even if you don't quite understand them immediately.
Lastly, I loved how much focus was put on layered characters with different motivations. Each director mentioned how important it was to work on characters who feel true to life and have grounded motivations for even the most insane situations. This is what makes the audience connect with people even if they don't always love or agree with their choices.
What were some of your main takeaways?
Let us know in the comments.