Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring (2003)

4.5/5

Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom


South Korea; Kim Ki-Duk


Parental Guidance – Sexual Content


In the wilderness of the Korean countryside, a severe monk (Yeong-su Oh) patiently nurtures a young apprentice to become a sage too, far from the turmoil of life. But the naïve teen boy (Jae-kyeong Seo) awakens to carnal love during the brief stay of a mysterious sickly lady (Yeo-jin Ha) seeking solace at their small floating temple. Once the youngster discovers the power of lust, he is lost to contemplative life and resolutely leaves behind him the reclusive existence he and his master enjoyed. But the old sage doesn’t try to stop him, warn him of the dangers: he knows his pupil will eventually come back. 

No matter how frantic and messy life can get, it feels immensely reassuring to know that there are places – and people – that have their own immovable pendulum. The promise of a patch of silence and order in our daily chaos is often a last refuge when insecurities seep deep into our existences and flood the basement of our psyche. Whether this place really does exist somewhere or whether it is a mental territory actually is of little significance, as long as we believe our shed is waiting for us, intact.    

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…and Spring is the story of such a place. It hums with such an absolute sense of inner pace and serenity that the effect is, at times, nothing short of magical. The remote floating temple and its austere shrine seem to be part of a parallel universe, cut off from materiality by its massive wooden portal. Different laws regulate its inner mechanisms and a different logic guides its march. Time itself is more delicate, less voracious: it doesn’t destroy or alter, it enhances, because each fleeting instant comes loaded with wisdom and new experiences.

Visually, the audience is treated to a rare experience, as only the heightened Asian sense of harmony and equilibrium can offer. Each season has its unique hue, and the successive tonal shifts (varying from imperceptible to dramatic) add further depth and aesthetic layers to an already gorgeous and diverse visual tapestry.

A sober, contemplative work of art, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…and Spring finds its touch of grace in its palpable breath of spirituality, which instills an absolute sense of serenity that transcends the screen.

 

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