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

"But, from what I was reading, SSFWaS started sounding like it would turn out to be a boring melodrama about the stages of a man's life. Boy, am I glad I was wrong."

- Equinox21

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

Director: Kim Ki-duk

Writer: Kim Ki-duk

Producer: Lee Seung-Jae

Cast: Oh Yeong-Su, Kim Jong-Ho, Seo Jae-Gyeong, Kim Yeong-Min, Ha Yeo-Jin, Kim Ki-duk

Running Time: 106 min.

Plot: Best known for picking controversial topics into his films, director Kim Gi Deok is the first South Korean director awarded Best Director at the 54th Berlin Film Festival in February 2004. His new work "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" traces the life of a Buddhist monk to draw an analogy between the changing of the seasons and the cycle of life. 

The film tells a tale about the life of a Buddhist monk from being a child monk to an aging monk. As he grows, he experiences the desires and emotions in his childhood, adolescence and adulthood. He kills a little animation out of innocence, falls for a girl, attempts suicide after committing murder and eventually becomes an old monk. Paralleled to the nature's cycle of four seasons, the development of his life is adopted to reflect men's general patterns in life.


MONKEY GODDESS' REVIEW: I would write a review for Spring, Summer, Fall... but I absolutely despise writing, especially when it comes to reviews. I just get too wordy and the flow sucks. Not only that, I don't really remember much of the movie except that it was visually beautiful. I doubt I'll be watching it again anytime soon; thought it was a snooze. 

MONKEY GODDESS' RATING: 5/10 (10/10, visually)

SLAXOR'S REVIEW: "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...And Spring" tells the story of a monk from childhood to his adult years.

Well this may be the most visually beautiful movie I have ever seen. If you told me tomorrow I could be living on the floating temple on the lake from this movie if I just shaved my head, converted to Buddhism and gave up the outside world I'd be bald, kneeling and praying before you could finish the offer.

The tone of the movie is very calm as is the acting. The only time it felt out of place was when the focker who plays the lead in Fall hams it up a bit upon his arrival but later redeems himself. Another great thing is that almost everything in the movie ties in and has some sort of meaning. I say almost which leads me to my first gripe.

About 3/4's in we could probably wrap the movie up in about 15-20 minutes and send me home happy but for no reason whatsoever our lead decides, "hey, lets learn some kung-fu" and begins self-teaching himself with a manual. Ok, so the movie deals with Buddhism which can be associated with martial arts. However, it never ties in to anything and doesn't have enough time to be used. One could say our lead was getting rid of past anger but I'm not buying it.

The casting is pretty good with the standout being the actor that plays the elder monk. Throughout the movie as we go through the stages of the younger monks life he is replaced by a different actor in each season for obvious age differences. The old monk on the other hand is only made to look older each time and every time a new season starts and were left to wonder if the next actor to play the lead might not be as good as the previous. Well for that we have the elder monk to fall back on for great acting. This of course leads to my only other beef with the movie and that is when this character is no longer in the film were subjected to a new actor for the lead with no one familiar.

I guess writing this now I've come to realize that this movie probably would have been perfect had they eliminated the gratuitous kung-fu training. The movie is probably 2/3's Spring, Summer and Fall. The other 3rd is a long winter that overstays its welcome with this viewer.

Overall if your a fan of Korean dramas but prefer them to be the more enlightening kind instead of the ones that make you wanna slit your wrists like SFMV then check this out.


EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: When I found out a few weeks back that Kim Ki-duk's new movie, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter· and Spring, was going to be playing at a local theater in Milwaukee, I was pretty excited. Then I'd started to read a bit more about it and my expectations started dropping slightly. Until my viewing of this movie last night, I'd only seen one other Kim Ki-duk movie, The Isle, which I absolutely loved but which was really quite twisted. But, from what I was reading, SSFWaS started sounding like it would turn out to be a boring melodrama about the stages of a man's life. Boy, am I glad I was wrong. It was a terrific film that deserves all the accolades it has thus far received. 

The plot is very straight forward, because there isn't a lot to it. It just follows the stages of a young monk's life as he is mentored by an old monk on their floating monastery (inhabited by only the two of them and their ever changing pets). It's the way that the story is told that makes it so interesting. Not only does the title of the film represent the stages of life of the young monk, but it also represents the actual seasons that those stages are shown in. During the Spring segment, the young monk is just a little boy and the film takes place during Spring. During Summer, the young monk is in his teens. And so on. This was a very effective and enjoyable method of conveying the story. 

The film employed a more Buddhist theme than simply centering around 2 monks. The film could be seen as coming full circle by the end (when you see the film and understand what I mean), which is a very eastern/Buddhist philosophy (even if it is simple and even a bit clich*d). It also doesn't hurt that Kim Ki-duk found the most picturesque valley in South Korea to film this in. The cinematography was absolutely spectacular. 

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter· and Spring was an amazing film by an extremely talented director (who, by the way, also played the young monk in the Winter segment). I wasn't quite sure I'd like this film when I'd read a few things about it, but it certainly didn't let me down in any way whatsoever. Do yourselves a favor and check it out.