Bong Joon-ho is sets to make waves with his first animated feature

After his next English-language project, he’ll return to Korea for the sea creature-based cartoon fantasy.


Charles Bramesco


As one might expect from a filmmaker coming off the greatest success of his career and the awards windfall that followed, Bong Joon-ho has a few different irons in the fire.

His next feature will return him to the English language, resuming the positive Hollywood relations established with Snowpiercer and Okja, but now he’s got his next next feature lined up as well. (And that’s in addition to the HBO series spinoff of Parasite, a gig as President on this year’s jury at the Venice Film Festival, and some other to-be-produced screenplay work.)

Screen Daily has revealed that Bong’s distant future will see him directing an animated project, a first in his eclectic filmography. In keeping with the spirit of The Host and Okja, in which odd fauna from the natural world collide with manmade industry to underscore environmentalist themes, the new film will explore tensions between Homo sapiens and a race of sea creatures.

Screen Daily sourced the story from the Korean news site Naver, which one Reddit user has translated for slightly greater detail: the script focuses on “an invertebrate deep-sea-fish who thinks himself has an inter-vertebral disc” [sic], a far cry from the softie emotionality Western viewers may associate with fish-based cartoons. Though this seems no less universally accessible – we are all fated to develop contentious, complex relationships to our spinal health as the years go on.

The film will see Bong returning to the Korean language after the upcoming foray into English, and he’s reportedly reached out to a voice actor already, though the identity remains a mystery. Chances are that this film will get a double-release in Europe and the US, as is customary for Asian animation, with one version subtitled and the other dubbed by recognizable English-speaking actors.

For his constant genre-hopping and wedding of popcorn thrills to formal mastery and a sly intelligence, Americans have come to think of Bong as Korea’s answer to Steven Spielberg. If that’s the case, that would make this his The Adventures of Tintin, an intriguing experiment in an unfamiliar medium guaranteed to yield unusual results at the very least.

Published 13 May 2021

Tags: Bong Joon-ho

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