Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter â€¦ and Spring
Directed by Kim Ki-duk.
Starring Young-soo Oh, Kim Ki-duk, Young-min Kim, Jae-kyeong Seo, Yeo-jin Ha, and John-ho Kim.
Directed by Bae Yong-Kyun.
Starring Lee Pan-yong,Â Sin Won-sop, andÂ Yi Pan-Yong.
Set entirely on and around a floating temple (a set built for the movie on an artificial lake built about 200 years ago, to be specific), Kim Ki-duk’s 2003 featureÂ Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter â€¦ and Spring is a beautifully crafted but frustratingly artificial tale of one man’s life told in five chapters. The most disappointing aspect of Spring is how amazingly beautiful it is â€” disappointing because the several gorgeously photographed, languorous shots of the valley around the temple on the lake, sublime music, and mostly solid, understated performances with minimal dialogue make for exactly the right tone for the kind of film this aspires to be â€” yet its story falls short.
The film begins innocently enough â€” in “Spring,” of course â€” with a charming but troubling story wherein Child Monk (Jong-ho Kim) ties stones to a fish, a frog and a snake. Old Monk (the enchanting Young-soo Oh) is disappointed in him, so he ties a large stone to the child as he sleeps that night and says that he’ll only remove it once the boy has found the three animals and released them, telling the boy that if any of the animals are dead, he will carry the stone with him in his heart for the rest of his life. As he finds them, he discovers that the fish and the snake have died and begins to cry. Even as I was moved by the boy’s tears, it troubled me that the Master placed more importance on the boy’s lesson than the lives of the animals, a choice that â€” although I am neither a Buddhist nor a scholar of Buddhism â€” struck me as rather inauthentic.