Intentionally critical of the contradictions in human beings, Bong Joon Ho has fueled his filmography with a caustic commentary on humanity's boundless ambition to appropriate nature, depicted through an inventive and virtuoso staging that plays with the dimension of space. In the very sarcastic sci-fi feature film Snowpiercer (2013), directed like a blockbuster action film, the director scratched the surface of our social divisions with an almost grotesque form of caricature.
Bong Joon Ho is returning to this leitmotif and dark humour in his new film, this time with a more intimate visual partition that oscillates between comedy and drama. Okja depicts the bonding relationship between Mija, a thirteen-year old girl living in a valley encircled by mountains, and an enormous animal that she tries to protect from a multinational group that is attempting to kidnap it.
The idea for this feature film came to Bong Joon Ho in 2010, when the director noticed a strange animal on the roadside as he was driving. The film script was then developed in collaboration with Jon Ronson, who worked on the characters and dialogue in English.
The task of creating the character Okja in synthetic images was given to Erik De Boer, who made his name in 2012 with his work on the tiger in Ang Lee's The Life of Pi. Overall, some hundred shots were faked to bring Okja to life on screen. Filmed in South Korea, New York and Canada, the film plays on the contrasts between a lush natural setting and the concrete urban jungle. It features Tilda Swinton - already seen in the role of a barmy prime minister in Snowpiercer - as well as Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano. Okja is scheduled for release on 28 June on Netflix.