Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring

A young man's struggles with the monastic life

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Director Kim Ki-Duk, Korean cinema’s ‘angry young man’, takes a chill pill for this, and creates arguably his best work yet. A contemplative, Zen koan of a movie which, like the remote mountain lake that provides its setting, finds hidden depths beneath a calm surface. It’s about the big stuff: the meaning of life, time, the nature of redemption…

An old monk (Oh Yeong-Su) lives on a floating temple in the middle of the lake with his young disciple. One springtime, the disciple, a small boy, indulges in a childish act of cruelty which will have repercussions for the rest of his life. Time passes and he falls in love one summer with an ailing girl sent to live with him and the master. They run away together. Years later, he returns as autumn arrives, a heinous crime hanging over his head. The master helps him readjust to the monastic life, and the whole cycle looks set to start again. Although unabashedly austere, it’s a film that lingers in the mind for weeks after, hitting all the right cinematic pressure points.


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