Okja

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Okja
Okja.png
Promotional release poster
Directed byBong Joon-ho
Screenplay by
Story byBong Joon-ho
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyDarius Khondji
Edited byYang Jin-mo
Music byJung Jae-il
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
  • May 19, 2017 (2017-05-19) (Cannes)
  • June 28, 2017 (2017-06-28) (United States)
  • June 29, 2017 (2017-06-29) (South Korea)
Running time
120 minutes[1]
Countries
  • South Korea
  • United States
Languages
  • English
  • Korean
Budget$50 million[2]
Box office$2 million[3]

Okja (/ˈkə/; Korean옥자) is a 2017 action-adventure film directed by Bong Joon-ho with a screenplay by Bong and Jon Ronson from a story by Bong. The film is about a young girl who raised a genetically modified "super pig" (the titular Okja) and, after it is taken to the United States, goes on a mission to rescue it from mistreatment at the hands of the meat industry. An international co-production of South Korea and the United States, it stars an ensemble cast headed by South Korean child actress Ahn Seo-hyun, South Korean actors Byun Hee-bong, Yoon Je-moon, and Choi Woo-shik, and Hollywood actors Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Shirley Henderson, Daniel Henshall, Devon Bostick, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jake Gyllenhaal.

The film competed for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.[4][5] It was released on Netflix on June 28, 2017. The film received positive reviews from critics.

Plot[edit]

In 2007, "environmentalist" Lucy Mirando becomes CEO of the Mirando Corporation, succeeding her twin sister. Announcing they have been breeding a special kind of "super pig", 26 specimens are sent to farmers around the world, and ten years later, one will be crowned the winner as the best pig.

In 2017, a young girl named Mija lives in South Korea with her grandfather and their super pig, Okja. Mija and Okja have a very close relationship; they spend much of their time together, and at one point, Okja saves Mija from falling off a cliff. They are visited by Mirando spokesperson and zoologist Dr. Johnny Wilcox, who declares Okja the best super pig, and announces that they will take her to NYC. Her grandfather gives Mija a gold pig, explaining he saved up to replace Okja when she was taken away. Devastated, Mija goes to Seoul to find Okja, where she sees her being loaded onto a truck. Mija chases down the truck but it is intercepted by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).

In the resulting chaos, Mija and Okja run away but are eventually saved by the ALF, led by Jay. He asks another ALF member, K, to translate and tell Mija that they plan to put a recording device in Okja's ear and let her be recaptured by the Mirando corporation to document how they mistreat animals. Mija asks them to return her to the mountains but K purposely mistranslates and tells them Mija agrees. They leave, and Okja is recaptured.

To minimize PR damage to the company, Lucy pays for Mija to come to NYC to reunite with her pig. Okja is taken to a laboratory where she is forcibly bred with another super pig and flesh is taken from her for a taste test. After the ALF sees the footage, K reveals that he lied to the rest of the group about Mija's support of the plan. Jay beats K, and expels him from the ALF.

In NYC, Mija has to comply with the Mirando Corp. Jay slips into her room and tells her they plan to rescue Okja while on stage. During the Mirando parade, a battered and temporarily blinded Okja attacks Mija. Jay tries to hurt Okja to protect the girl, but Mija doesn’t let him and calms Okja down. The ALF shows Okja's mistreatment to the public, who quickly turn on Mirando. Lucy surrenders the company to her twin sister Nancy, who contacts a private security firm to take out ALF members. Okja is recaptured and the ALF members are arrested, except for Mija and Jay, who are rescued by K. Nancy, Lucy’s twin sister, reassumes the position of CEO and starts full-time operations at their slaughterhouse.

K, Mija, and Jay travel to a processing plant in search of Okja, and find her at the processing plant, being forced up a ramp into a slaughterhouse. Mija shows a Mirando employee a photo of herself with baby Okja, prompting him to stop. Nancy arrives and Mija offers the gold pig in exchange for Okja's life. Nancy agrees, having Jay and K arrested. As Mija and Okja are escorted away, a pair of super pigs push their newborn to Okja to hide it and take it away.

Back in the countryside, Mija resumes her life with her grandfather, Okja, and the new piglet.

In a post-credits scene, Jay is released from prison, boarding a bus with K and the other members of the organization. With their newest member Kim Woo-shik, a former driver for Mirando Corporation, they plan to disrupt a major Mirando shareholders meeting.

Cast[edit]

  • Ahn Seo-hyun as Mija, the protagonist, a young farm girl who takes care of and helped raise Okja.
  • Tilda Swinton as Lucy Mirando, the eccentric powerful CEO of the Mirando Corporation looking to profit from Okja and the super pig program.
    • Swinton also plays Nancy Mirando, Lucy's twin sister, the cruel former CEO of the Mirando Corporation
  • Paul Dano as Jay, the leader of an animal-rights activist group, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF)
  • Jake Gyllenhaal as Johnny Wilcox, a disturbed zoologist and TV personality
  • Byun Hee-bong as Hee Bong, Mija's grandfather
  • Steven Yeun as K, an animal-rights activist and ALF member who serves as translator between Mija and the rest of the ALF
  • Giancarlo Esposito as Frank Dawson, an associate with the Mirando Corporation
  • Lily Collins as Red, an animal-rights activist and ALF member
  • Yoon Je-moon as Mundo Park, a Korean representative of the Mirando Corporation
  • Shirley Henderson as Jennifer, Lucy's assistant
  • Daniel Henshall as Blond, an animal-rights activist, ALF member, and the boyfriend of Silver
  • Devon Bostick as Silver, an animal-rights activist, ALF member, and the boyfriend of Blond
  • Choi Woo-shik as Kim Woo-shik, a young driver for the Mirando Corporation
  • Lee Bong-ryun as Mirando Korea desk clerk

Development and production[edit]

In October 2015, it was announced that director Bong Joon-ho's next film would feature a South Korean female lead and a cast of English-speaking supporting actors, with filming set in New York.[6] On November 10, 2015, it was picked up by Netflix and Plan B Entertainment with a budget of $50 million, with production starting in late 2016 for release in 2017.[2] Darius Khondji joined the film as cinematographer in February 2016.[7]

Bong sought out Welsh author Jon Ronson to help with the script. Working with a rough draft of the story, Ronson helped develop the English-speaking characters.[8]

Principal photography began on April 22, 2016, in Seoul, South Korea.[9][10] It moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for more filming on July 31, 2016.[11] Bong visited a Colorado slaughterhouse to prepare for the film's slaughterhouse sequence, an experience that converted Bong and producer Dooho Choi into temporary vegans.[12]

Bong has called Okja "a very shy and introverted animal. It's a unique animal that we've not seen before."[13]

Release[edit]

Cast and director at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.

Okja had its world premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2017.[14] During the first few minutes of its screening at its Cannes premiere, the film was met with boos mixed with some applause twice: once when the Netflix logo appeared on the screen and again during a technical glitch which projected the film in an incorrect aspect ratio for its first seven minutes.[15][16][17] The festival later issued an apology to its filmmakers for projecting the film incorrectly.[18] But despite the initial negative audience response, the film received a four-minute standing ovation at its end.[19]

The film was released on Netflix on June 28, 2017.[20]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Several independent theatres in South Korea screened the film to much success, with earnings totalling 2.3 billion KRW ($2.1 million USD) from 300,953 tickets sold.[21]

Critical response[edit]

On the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 86% based on 236 reviews, with a weighted average of 7.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Okja sees Bong Joon-ho continuing to create defiantly eclectic entertainment – and still hitting more than enough of his narrative targets in the midst of a tricky tonal juggling act."[22] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[23]

Okja was named as one of the New York Times's ten most influential films of the decade in November 2019.[24] Critic A.O. Scott wrote, "Okja is a miracle of imagination and technique, and Okja insists, with abundant mischief and absolute sincerity, that she possesses a soul."[25]

During the screening of the film at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, the opening Netflix title card was booed by the audience, over the controversy of the streaming service's legitimacy in cinema.[26]

Accolades[edit]

Year Awards Body Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
2017 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Bong Joon-ho Nominated
2018 Saturn Awards Best Television Presentation Okja Nominated [27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (April 13, 2017). "Sofia Coppola, Todd Haynes, Michael Haneke, Bong-Joon Ho & 'Twin Peaks' Lead 2017 Cannes Film Festival Line Up". ThePlaylist.net. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Trumbore, Dave (November 10, 2015). "Netflix Backs Bong Joon-ho's 'Okja' with $50 Million". Collider. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  3. ^ "Okja (2017)". The Numbers. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  4. ^ "The 2017 Official Selection". Cannes. April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  5. ^ "2017 Cannes Film Festival Announces Lineup: Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola, 'Twin Peaks' and More". IndieWire. April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  6. ^ Trumbore, Dave (November 5, 2015). "'Okja': Bong Joon-ho's Monster Movie Adds Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, and Bill Nighy". Collider. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  7. ^ "Bong Joon-ho, Netflix and Darius Khondji join forces for Okja". Asian Movie Pulse. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  8. ^ Schonfeld, Zach (June 17, 2017) http://www.newsweek.com/2017/06/30/okja-jon-ronson-veganism-heroism-corporate-harm-626829.html
  9. ^ Evry, Max (April 22, 2016). "Okja Begins Filming with Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  10. ^ "Bong Joon Ho's Okja Starts Filming with Tilda Swinton". Collider. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  11. ^ Trumbore, Dave (June 12, 2016). "The Predator, Okja, Death Note Filming Dates Revealed". Collider.com. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  12. ^ Kohn, Eric (June 7, 2017). "'Okja': How One Visit to a Slaughterhouse Turned Bong Joon Ho Into a Vegan". IndieWire. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  13. ^ "Okja: exclusive images from Netflix's 2017 thriller starring Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal - NME". NME. December 22, 2016. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  14. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy; Evans, Greg (April 13, 2017). "Cannes Lineup: Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola, Noah Baumbach, 'Twin Peaks'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  15. ^ Lang, Brent (May 19, 2017). "Cannes Apologizes For 'Okja' Screening Technical Glitches". Variety. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  16. ^ Ryan, Patrick (May 19, 2017). "Cannes: Netflix's controversial 'Okja' gets booed for technical snafu". USA Today. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  17. ^ Waxman, Sharon; Pond, Steve (May 19, 2017). "Netflix's 'Okja' Booed at First Press Screening in Cannes". The Wrap. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  18. ^ Mumford, Gwilym (May 19, 2017). "Cannes apologises after technical problems and booing disrupts Netflix film Okja". The Guardian. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  19. ^ Gardner, Chris (May 19, 2017). "Cannes: Netflix's 'Okja' Premiere Gets Four-Minute Standing Ovation After Press Screening Snafu". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  20. ^ "First Teaser for Bong Joon-ho's Okja, Coming to Netflix". ComingSoon.net. February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  21. ^ "Okja". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  22. ^ "Okja (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  23. ^ "Okja reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  24. ^ Manohla, Dargis (November 27, 2019). "The 10 Most Influential Films of the Decade (and 20 Other Favorites)".
  25. ^ Scott, A. O. (June 27, 2017). "Review: In 'Okja,' a Girl and Her Pig Take on the Food Industrial Complex". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  26. ^ Tiffany, kaitlyn. O. (March 17, 2017). "Netflix booed at Okja's Cannes premiere".
  27. ^ McNary, Dave (March 15, 2018). "'Black Panther,' 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.

External links[edit]