Reviews & Previews - Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring

Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2006 at 06:00 PM

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

By: S. Tran

Starring: Yeong-su Oh, Jay-Kyeong Seo, Young-min Kim, Ki-duk Kim
Directed By: Ki-duk Kim
Running Time: 103minutes
Rated: Rated 14-A

Silent Movie

If you asked me to come see a foreign movie with almost no dialogue, only two main characters and set in the middle of a lake I probably would have begged off with some excuse about painting my house with a toothbrush. If I had done that I would have missed one of the best films I have ever seen. Given the sad offerings at the theatre at the moment I thought I would provide a review of a film available on DVD and which is one of my personal favourites.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring is a film from Korea by Ki-duk Kim, who also makes an appearance later in the film. It revolves around the lives of an old monk (Oh) who lives in a solitary, one room, floating monastery built in the middle of a remote lake. With him lives a young boy (Seo) who is being raised by the monk. We?re not told what the relationship between the two is but it is obvious they care for each other. The film?s narrative is almost entirely without dialogue which on paper sounds like a very dull movie, yet somehow it manages to pull you in. Nothing big happens for long periods of time but the small things are incredibly fascinating to watch. As a bonus, if you don?t like to read subtitles there won?t be much for you to read

Things are well with the two until a sickly young woman is brought to the monastery by her mother who asks the monk to pray for her daughter?s health. During her recuperative stay the young man begins to experience feelings for the young woman and, for the first time in his life, sees a life outside of the monastery. The idyllic life he has enjoyed becomes far more complicated than anything he has ever known. Eventually he leaves the monastery to pursue a life in the outside world. Eventually the young man comes home and brings with him problems that intrude on the painting-like existence of the monastery.

The title of the film refers to the cycles of the seasons, of life, of gaining and losing and lots of other thing I am sure I missed. There are people who will do a much better job than I can in finding the parallels between the tenants of eastern philosophy and the themes found in the movie. For me, such a discussion is beyond my limited knowledge and is perhaps antithetical to the teachings behind the film. By striving to find the meaning behind the story do you in fact miss lesson? Does a tree falling in the forest....? Anyway, I think this film is best enjoyed without that kind of dissection but the layers are certainly there for you to discover.

From start to finish this is a beautiful film to watch. The cinematography is on par with anything produced by Hollywood today and enhances the calmness created by the silent action we see on the screen. Because all we hear for much of the movie are the natural sounds of the lake and the surrounding woods surrounding it becomes almost hypnotic to watch the two characters go about their lives. There are no fancy effects or quick cuts to be found. The camera works hand in hand with the simple nature of the story and does not overpower the narrative with uneccessary motion. This is a movie where the power and impact come from stripping things to their most basic elements.

Let?s be honest, this movie is not for everyone. Depending on who you are you will either love or hate this film. If you are a film fan though at least give yourself a chance to love it and rent this movie.


4.5 stars out of 5.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to