Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (2004)

October 7, 2008 § Leave a comment

Given that this is a film with a great deal of sublety and grace from Korean director Kim Ki-Duk, it’s unfortunate that launching into a plot description makes it sound  overly simplistic, and like something you don’t really need to see. But really, this is one of the most beautiful films I’d seen in years. It involves a tiny Buddhist monastery — small enough to be a tiny island in the middle of the lake — where a senior monk and his young apprentice live, and each chapter in the film follows the seasons listed in the title, but also matches a different chapter in the life of the younger character, so in Spring he’s a child, in Summer a young man, and so on.

It’s a slow and pensive film, not even slightly rushed until the Winter chapter, but full of excellent moments, and if it happens to be slightly heavy-handed at times, it more than makes up for it with its intelligence, uniqueness, reverence, beauty and wisdom.

I won’t go into detail describing the scene where the older monk says goodbye to the younger one, except to say it’s a simple goodbye, and one of my favourite moments in film. Comments from the director indicate he not only wanted to cover the cyclical nature of life, but the whole range of emotions it encompasses. He succeeds remarkably well.

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