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

Released: 2003

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 1 hr 43 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Ki-duk Kim

Starring: Yeong-su Oh, Ki-duk Kim, Young-min Kim, Jae-kyeong Seo, Yeo-jin Ha, Jong-ho Kim, Jung-young Kim

A Buddhist monk tries to keep a wayward apprentice on the past to enlightenment.

A thing of wild beauty.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 8 years ago

This came out around the same time as The Passion of the Christ. I remember everyone saying what an amazing religious experience The Passion was. Really? That two-hour snuff film? I’ll take my spiritualism without a side of gore, thank you very much. Besides, who needs Mel Gibson when we’ve got Kim Ki-Duk?

South Korean director Ki-Duk’s remarkable Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring has all the profundity you could hope for in a religiously themed film… all without spilling buckets and buckets of blood. There is sex and violence, though – just in case you’re wondering if this movie is Dullsville. Trust me, it ain’t. It proves that cinema can be thrilling even when it’s quiet as a dormouse. (See, Michael Bay?!)

It’s basically a three-person drama about a Buddhist monk, his young apprentice and the girl the boy falls for. The title reflects the structure of the film, as we see how the boy’s behavior and spiritual journey have progressed (or not) in different seasons. Unlike many Asian movies that deal with a wise old mentor and an impressionable youth, this is not an uplifting coming-of-age tale. The film is about a wayward soul who becomes hopelessly lost.

Physically, the film is a thing of wild beauty. The setting is mostly limited to a floating monastery surrounded by a forest and majestic mountains. There’s a limited amount of dialogue, with an emphasis on universal emotions. If only a handful of the millions who saw The Passion could see this, then my faith in humanity might be restored.