Korean director Kim Ki-duk’s Buddhism-inspired extended 2003 meditation – Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…and Spring – takes place on an isolated lake nestled among scenic mountains on which floats a small, one-room hermitage housing two monks, one old and one young. The narrative unfolds over the course of several years, and is divided into five sections denoted by the seasons corresponding to the title. Whilst each section broadly tells a story of its own, the overall plot concerns the education of the younger monk, a small boy in the beginning, as he learns lessons over the course of his life; these lessons are learned from life experience as well as wisdom imparted from his teacher. As the film draws to a close, the young man himself becomes a teacher and the cycle completes itself.
As the title suggests, the film’s overarching theme is cyclical renewal; as the seasons pass through phases of birth and death and rebirth, so do the lives of Kim Ki-duk’s characters. Concepts such as dealing with loss, exploring love, persevering through difficulties and learning lessons from life’s adversities are dealt with masterfully in this beautifully constructed film.
Ki-duk’s characters are engaging, deeply human and eminently watchable and contribute, combined with the breathtaking scenery, to a produce a film that is sensitive and thought provoking. As such, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…and Spring is a film that is well-worth watching – the life issues explored are relevant to us all. Watch the trailer here (courtesy of youtube):