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Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003)
"Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama  |  28 May 2004 (USA)
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 55,163 users   Metascore: 85/100
Reviews: 145 user | 119 critic | 29 from Metacritic.com

On an isolated lake, an old monk lives on a small floating temple. The wise master has also a young boy with him who learns to become a monk. And we watch as seasons and years pass by.

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Yeong-su Oh ...
Old Monk (as Young-soo Oh)
...
Adult Monk
Young-min Kim ...
Young Adult Monk
Jae-kyeong Seo ...
Boy Monk
Yeo-jin Ha ...
The Girl
Jong-ho Kim ...
Child Monk
Jung-young Kim ...
The Girl's Mother
Dae-han Ji ...
Detective Ji
Min Choi ...
Detective Choi
Ji-a Park ...
The Baby's Mother
Min-Young Song ...
The Baby
Edit

Storyline

In the midst of the Korean wilderness, a Buddhist master patiently raises a young boy to grow up in wisdom and compassion, through experience and endless exercises. Once the pupil discovers his sexual lust, he seems lost to contemplative life and follows his first love, but soon fails to adapt to the modern world, gets in jail for a crime of passion and returns to the master in search of spiritual redemption and reconciliation with karma, at a high price of physical catharsis... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some strong sexuality | See all certifications »

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

28 May 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$42,561 (USA) (2 April 2004)

Gross:

$2,380,788 (USA) (8 October 2004)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The inscription on the floor is "The Heart Sutra", one of the most important Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism, written in literary Chinese. See more »

Goofs

When the young monk finishes inscribing the Heart Sutra on the floor and falls down exhausted, the inscriptions below him change between shots (even though he is lying motionless). In one shot, the inscriptions he is lying on have been painted; and as he wakes up, the paint is gone. See more »

Quotes

Old Monk: Didn't you know beforehand how the world of men is? Sometimes we have to let go of the things we like. What you like, others will also like."
See more »

Connections

Featured in Arirang (2011) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A gentler addition to Kim's compendium of sexual obsession
7 January 2005 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Spring, Summer, Winter, Autumn …and Spring is something of a self conscious art-house film. Possibly Kim Ki-duk is trying to work off his reputation for making movies replete with violent sexual imagery, but he's not fooling anyone. Spring… contains – admittedly in a much more restrained form – most of the themes from his earlier works, The Isle and Bad Guy. Onto this, however, is pasted a hefty dose of Buddhist teaching. Or, from another perspective, an interesting juxtaposition of old and new.

Beginning in the Spring of an undefined year close to the present, the film is set on (and I mean, on) an isolated lake. A child acolyte lives out a life of quiet contemplation, punctuated by occasional acts of petty animal cruelty. His master, a monk, observes his young charge with increasing disapproval and orders him to undo his evil or face the consequences in his own life. It soon becomes apparent that he means this in anything but the figurative sense.

Moving through the seasons, Kim explores the "cycle of life"; with his acolyte experiencing youthful love (or lust), anger, violence and finally acceptance, contrition and peace. The film ends with a new acolyte and a new cycle: implying an endless repetition with subtle variation.

Spring… is not exactly a subtle film, but it is beautifully done. Kim uses silence like few other filmmakers, matching Kurosawa or Bergman at their best. He punctuates these long slow movements with abrupt changes in tempo – such as the arrival of Yeo. The pace quickens and the mood changes. The courtship of the adolescent boy and girl are some of the gentlest scenes in cinema (though culminating in a suitably Kim-like, energetic coupling).

With popular Buddhist and Confucian ideas now so firmly established in cinema (thanks in part to their bastardisation by George Lucas), the ideas in this film aren't exactly going to leave its audience in need of a large glass of perspective and soda (to quote Douglas Adams). Lust leads to possessive urges, which lead to violence; ones violent actions lead on to violence against oneself; peace (and redemption) is found not through approbation, but understanding oneself.

I can't quite dispel the notion that The Isle, with its sly humour and darker plot is a better film, or that Spring… is, if not completely then at least partially, up the bottom of its own artiness. That said, it is a very, very pretty film. Its story is intelligent, if not awe-inspiring, and it is a delightful change of pace from most modern cinema. Most of all, it is probably one of Kim's most accessible films, and I shall certainly be watching it again – if only to see Oh Yeong-su practising his calligraphic art with the tail of a live cat. 7/10.


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