The exquisitely beautiful and very human drama SPRING, SUMMER,
FALL, WINTER AND SPRING, starring director KIM Ki-duk, is
entirely set on and around a tree-lined lake where a tiny
Buddhist monastery floats on a raft amidst a breath-taking
landscape. The film is divided into five segments with each
season representing a stage in a man's life. Under the vigilant
eyes of Old Monk, Child Monk learns a hard lesson about the
nature of sorrow when some of his childish games turn cruel.
In the intensity and lushness of summer, the monk, now a young
man, experiences the power of lust, a desire that will ultimately
lead him, as an adult, to dark deeds. With winter, strikingly
set on the ice and snow-covered lake, the man atones for his
past actions, and spring starts the cycle anew. With an extraordinary
attention to visual details, such as using a different animal
(dog, rooster, cat, snake) as a motif for each section, writer/director/editor
KIM Ki-duk has crafted a totally original yet universal story
about the human spirit, moving from Innocence, through Love
and Evil, to Enlightenment and finally Rebirth.
is there so much unhappiness around us? Why are we bitter
about almost everything in our lives? Why do we find it so
difficult to embrace what we have around us?
we have no peace in our souls, that’s why. And as this
reviewer has realized after watching this arthouse flick helmed
by the ever-surprising Kim Ki-Duk, what we want to attain
in our short lives is the state of being at peace with ourselves.
religious and spiritual? That’s because the tranquil
film takes us through the four seasons, each symbolically
telling the story of a young monk’s journey into manhood,
and the different temptations he is faced with. From torturing
animals, tasting the forbidden fruit of sex, to committing
murder out of jealousy, we see how the human spirit goes through
ups and downs, before eventually attaining enlightenment.
minutes, this film manages to coax the unsettled soul of this
uptight reviewer. And that is a good thing in this unsettling
world we are living in today.
is much to learn in this 2003 masterpiece. Every shot, every
symbol, every animal, every quiet gesture is representation
of a life lesson. Different viewers will have different interpretations,
different viewings will bring about different understandings
– and that is why this film is a gem.
on a specially-built Buddhist monastery floating on Chusanji
Lake located in Mt. Chuwang National Park, North Kyongsang
Province, the cinematography is awe-inspiring. The calmness
and serenity of the location will make you want to leave behind
everything you have and retreat to that paradise forever.
takes on the role of the monk in his adulthood during the
winter segment. His performance is nothing short of Zen and
composed amidst the icy cold frozen lake surfaces that he
director’s works include the shocking The Isle (2000),
the peculiar Bad Guy (2001) and the recent Time (2006) which
tells a strange love story. His movies may not be everyone’s
cup of tea because of the lack of narrative dialogue and everyday
logic, but this one is definitely worth your time, because
it will open your eyes to a whole new life journey ahead.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 disc contains no extra features at all.
A pity, because we’d really want to know more about
the director’s takes on the different symbolisms in
The visual transfer maintains the magnificent sceneries, with
Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 as its soundtrack.
by John Li