Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003)

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (Review)
Kim Ki-duk/Su Oh-yeong/2003
Where To Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...as beautiful to look at as it is to think about..."

The story of a young Buddhist monk, as well as his master, from childhood to old age...
 
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring is a simplistic tale of life on the surface. The story begins as the young and nameless novice monk torments small animals as a child during the Spring. Fast forward to his young adult life and we experience the novice monk's first love during the Summer. Again, the film leaps to his adult life, now in his 30s, and a criminal incident that occurs during the Fall. As a middle aged man, the apprentice monk returns to his home, where he practices his meditative martial arts stances and receives a child during the Winter. And Spring, the cycle begins once again as apprentice becomes master and he begins to teach the child.

The film may seem simple on the surface – maybe because of my mediocre explanation or maybe because it really is a simple tale. However, the film is also deeply symbolic, contemplative, and incredibly insightful. It brings you into this secluded world of religious teachings, but without preaching or such. It's really a film that makes you think about what you see. So, although the story may seem simple, the visuals really take it to another level; for example, there are no walls within this small Buddhist monastery, yet there are doors. Now, being someone that's not familiar with the culture or religion, it's incredibly interesting. But, that's not all. There are other visuals that have larger impact and deeper meaning than initial thought. It's a film that made me look up so much because of how much of an impact it had.

The acting is superb. This film doesn't have much dialogue, but the performances still feel genuine and honest. The music and its tones match the mood of the film – the score is beautiful on its own, as well. The film is beautifully shot, the cinematography is superb; this is a beautiful film in both content and visuals. The pacing is moderate, it does lose some momentum towards the end. The storytelling is also creative and very effective – not confusing at all, I apologize if I made it seem that way. Writer and director Kim Ki-duk delivers the usual; a masterfully directed film with many, many layers.

Overall, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring is an elegant film in both content and cinematography. It's as beautiful to look at as it is to think about, and it's a film that you'll be thinking about for quite a while. It's definitely not a film for everyone, you really need patience and an open-mind to genuinely enjoy this film. If you have both, and if you love culture like I do, this is a fantastic film, despite some minimal pacing issues.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Two sex scenes with nudity usually seen from afar.

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