‘The most personal is the most creative.’”

MORE ON PARASITE AND BONG JOON-HO by Robbie Collin, Film Critic of The Telegraph 10 February 2020

Yet it shouldn’t be forgotten that Bong himself owes a creative and professional debt to two Hollywood masters – which he acknowledged with characteristic wit and grace while accepting the award for Best Director, in a speech that will surely become the definitive 2020 Oscars Moment.

“When I was young and studying cinema,” he said, via his redoubtable translator Sharon Choi, “there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is that ‘The most personal is the most creative.’” Then he added in English himself: “That quote is from our great Martin Scorsese.” Scorsese, who was nominated for The Irishman, looked genuinely touched; the room around him erupted and rose to its feet. (This wasn’t extemporised flattery; Bong has often spoken about the impact Scorsese’s phrase made on him as a young filmmaker.)

After a moment, he went on. “When people in the US were not familiar with my films, Quentin [Tarantino] always put my films on his list.” Tarantino was the most prominent Western champion of Bong’s 2006 genre-twisting monster movie The Host, and in 2009 called it one of the 20 greatest films to have been made since the release of Reservoir Dogs.

Spurred on by great American film-makers, Bong became a great Korean one, and is now recognised in America as a great film-maker full stop. You’ll hopefully allow me a misty-eyed Oscar moment of my own when I say that this kind of transnational cross-pollination is exactly how cinema should be working right now. 

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