By GEO CABRAL
At first glance, Bong Joon Ho’s new movie Okja seems to have a pretty straightforward plot. And that’s because it does. It’s the story of a young girl, Mija (An Seo Hyun), who has a pig named Okja as her best friend. But Okja is no ordinary pig, and Mija does everything she can to save her friend, when the super pig is taken by the very people that created her.
It’s safe to say that the plot isn’t what makes this movie incredibly special. It’s very clear from this simple plot that the movie is all about animal rights and welfare. The company “Mirando,” responsible for the creation of these pigs and are taking them back to harvest the fruits of their 10-year project, are presented as your big villains. On the other end of the fight, is the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), which is a group of individuals who, for the past 40 years, have dedicated themselves to freeing animals from the horrors of the animal food business. Pretty simple right?
And so what makes Okja special isn’t the plot itself, but the presentation of it. What we essentially have here is drama-adventure-fantasy movie. All the characters are incredibly animated. Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton), the CEO of the company, is all about image — her image, the company’s image — and ultimately intends to use a good image in order to propel the company upwards, while hiding the truths behind how they do their work. This is the usual presentation of the cold corporate world that only cares about their growth, while disregarding any social or environmental injustice.
Then you have the ALF, who don’t simply go on rallies or take to social media, but apparently know how to jump from fast moving trucks, create complicated spyware, and organize large and epic movements in order to free a huge animal in the middle of an event in New York City. Everything from Silver (Devon Bostick) attempting to lower his carbon footprint to extreme levels, to Jay (Paul Dano) beating up K (Steven Yeun) for disobeying a 40 year old credo they swore to abide by, is incredibly animated. You basically have a couple of animal rights vigilantes.
Then there’s the best super pig herself, whose charm of course comes from the fact that she’s a huge, adorable, super pig. Okja wins us over with the sympathy we feel for her, as we are presented with some cruel truths in the world of the animal food business.
Now these incredibly animated characters and scenes aren’t the only notable things about this movie. The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking. The first part of the movie, when they were still up in the mountains felt incredibly surreal. Every shot gives the serene feeling of being around nature like that. Second, the simplicity of the story allows for it to be relatable and for us to be able to sympathize with the truths they present to us. While it might be a bit exaggerated, the movie talks about some very real things about how animals are being treated sometimes.
It’s true that the movie’s got a pretty straightforward plot, but it’s incredibly dramatic, action-filled, and cutely hilarious scenes makes the movie memorable to those who watch it, whether you liked it or not. And for that,Okja will be a movie that will stand out from the rest.