If you have seen ‘Okja’, which I am assuming you have since you are here, you will agree when I say that it isn’t simply tough putting ‘Okja’ under a single genre or even a dual genre, it’s much more of an impossible task, although one that we’d happily undertake and be defeated by its impossibility. The same can also be said for director Joon-ho Bong’s entire filmography, nearly. Even the thrillers that he has made, some excellent ones including ‘Snowpiercer’, ‘Mother’ and ‘Memories of Murder’ are standouts not simply because they are well made, but because they had so much more to say in what the eccentric director terms a universal language. Come to think of it, when he says “universal language”, his deliberate intermixing of genres is quite understandable. Even in the absurdity of it, you can find it to be a bit more relatable than say an out and out mystery film or an all-out drama film. Such is the whimsy of human happenings, they are never unilateral or genre abiding, so to say, and Joon-ho Bong knows that and quite ably reflects that in his films. That is why most of his films worked, that is why ‘Okja’ works. SPOILER AHEAD. If you haven’t seen the film yet, head over to Netflix.
‘Okja’ creates a world nothing too different from our current one, but it is imbued with such manic energy and zany characters, ones that you take to hate for all the right reasons and some that you unfailingly love, that you are happily taken along for a ride. Everything isn’t sweet as roses though, since by the end of the film, you’d realise that the film took you on that emotional rollercoaster of a ride only to violently throw you off without any warning: perhaps that’s the best way a twist is delivered, especially when it’s a true one and the message needs to be driven home, one way or another. ‘Okja’ is a well-made film that chooses to address a lot of things at once, primary among them being humans and their tendency to simply exploit everything they can get their hands on in abundance. We will discuss more on what themes ‘Okja’ addresses later, but for now, let’s delve deeper into the narrative and style of the film. Read on.
Summary of the Plot: The Premise
The film begins in 2007 in New York, when Lucy Mirando, an industrialist masquerading as an environmentalist takes over her duties as CEO for Mirando Corporation succeeding her eventhemore twin evil sister, Nancy, and as part of the continued PR exercise, announces to the media that the company under her leadership would move away from the tyrannous ways of the erstwhile CEOs and look to newer core values of humanity and environmental consciousness. She then announces that as part of the company’s initiative to eliminate hunger in the US, they would be working on a “super pig” program, as part of which, the sixteen super pigs they had bred at their labs (through natural mating she tells the press) from a super piglet “miraculously” discovered at a Chilean farm, would be sent to sixteen farmers across the world where the Mirando offices were, who would then raise those pigs from indigenous methods, and at maturity, would be shipped back to New York where one pig, the biggest and most beautiful of them all would be crowned the best super pig.