September 19, 2003 (South Korea)
South Korea (Korean)
Written and Directed by Kim Ki-duk
"Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" is a stunning allegory to sit through. Overly rich with symbolism, this is a mostly magical tour of mortality's seasons.
The gates open on a small sanctuary, within floats a Buddhist monastery in the middle of a lake nested in the mountains of South Korea. It is as iconic a setting as I've ever seen in a film. "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" is almost always beautiful to look at. The dialogue is sparse and so this remains a primarily visual parable. The five seasons of life (five because of the idea of reincarnation) referred to in the title all take place here and in the surrounding hills.
In the first segment we observe the relationship between the Master and his young apprentice. A child's mischief leads to much teaching, another event that continues through the years. When a mother brings her sickly daughter into this paradise in order to receive healing she is also bringing a new temptation for our young protagonist. Assuredly, more lessons follow.
"Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" is overflowing with symbols, some are broad brushstrokes others will bewilder. I felt winter, largely a one-man show, was the least interesting segment and maybe that's because Kim Ki-duk is nowhere near the actor as he is the director. You'll surely know where this film is going from the very beginning, but predictability need not be a weakness if it is designed to be destined.
CONTENT: brief strong sexual content, brief nudity, brief violence, brief torture imagery, cruelty to animals