Movie Review – Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (2003)

This is a Korean film that focuses on a small monastery located in the middle of a lake, framed with high mountains covered in trees. In the monastery there lives an adult monk and a young boy. The adult monk is teaching the young boy the ways of Buddha, and the film progresses through different seasons and different stages of their lives. 

This film is absolutely beautiful, and I’m not just talking about the cinematography. It’s so elegant and on the surface it’s a simple film because there isn’t much dialogue and we never see any part of the world outside this monastery. Yet it’s so deceptive, because despite it’s apparent limitations it explores concepts like death, rebirth, innocence, guilt, love, lust..really it explores the whole complexity of life. It drips with symbolism and metaphor and allusions and there’s just so much to ponder and contemplate. I watched it a couple of nights ago and I’m still thinking about some of the scenes and what the meaning was. This isn’t just a movie for entertainment, this can nourish the soul too.

When I watched it I was wrapped up in the gorgeous scenery, and then the story crept up on me and even though the pace was gentle it still felt tense and I was hanging on my seat to find out what happened next. The music really adds to the atmosphere as well, and when it’s punctuated by silence it feels deliberate. This is just an expertly crafted movie and the depth is handled with such delicate grace that you don’t even realize it’s there until you find yourself actively thinking about what you’ve just seen, and you’re trying to find the meaning in it.

It’s definitely worth a watch, especially if you’re interesting in spirituality and philosophy. There’s so much you can take from this film, it’s simply a work of art. That feels the only apt way I can describe it.  

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