Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. . . and Spring is the title of an enthralling movie I saw last night at the Naro. It’s a beautiful Korean movie about an old monk and a young monk in a small Buddhist monastery, and it’s almost as stunning as that other Korean movie about an old monk and a young monk in a small Buddhist monastery, 1989’s gorgeous Why has Bodhi-dharma Left for the East? The setting is magnificent and even surreal?the entire film is shot on a floating monastery in the middle of a lake and the surrounding hills. It’s a poetic exploration of the cycles of life and seasons, following one person’s life from boyhood to maturity. In Spring, he’s a child monk being raised by an old monk in the monastery, learning valuable lessons in compassion. In Summer, he’s a youth who ultimately leaves the monastery when he discovers the pleasures of love and sex, and in Fall, he returns to the monastery briefly as a young adult under surprising circumstances. In Winter, he returns to the monastery to stay, and in Spring, begins to raise a child at the monastery himself.
Spring has a much more substantial story than Bodhi-dharma did. But it is not a Western story, and there are a few scenes which are baffling, and almost disturbing. Its vision of life is not at all sugar-coated—there is life and death, happiness and tragedy—but it is hauntingly beautiful and profoundly moving.
If you get a chance to, see it. You won’t be disappointed.