Pure Asian Entertainment: Film, TV, Anime & Manga
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring

Art House & International movie directed by Ki-duk Kim

< read all 5 reviews

Exquisitely beautiful, artful, meaningful film: REVISED

  • Sep 23, 2004
  • by
SPRING, SUMMER, AUTUMN, WINTER..AND SPRING is one of the most visually beautiful films created. With minimalist means, sets, effects, and dialogue, Director Ki-duk Kim leads us on a journey of the human condition, of the cycle of life using the metaphor of the seasons, and of the struggle for spiritual awakening that must come from within. Set on a floating Buddhist monastery in the middle of a lake surrounded by mountains and mists, an old monk (Yeong-su Oh) is first seen in Spring, observing his young monk in training (Jong-ho Kim - an orphan left at his doorstep?) observing nature and imposing his own boyish powers over fish, frog, and snake. Quietly the old monk teaches his pupil a lesson of life in restraining the boy just as the boy restrained the animals: lesson learned, scene fades. Summer finds the child as a youth (Jae-kyeong Seo), this time his lesson involves passion for a young girl (Yeo-jin Ha) brought to the monastery for physical and spiritual healing. After a series of sexual liaisons and the development of love, the old monk pronounces the girl healed, returns her to her mother, and the devastated youthful monk leaves the monastery to learn life's lessons in the outside world. Autumn finds the old monk receiving word that the now adult runaway (Young-min Kim) has murdered his unfaithful wife and seeks hiding in the monastery. The old monk once again must teach the young man control of his rage and the need to atone for his deeds and after a visually beautiful act of contrition. With wisdom yet in deep sadness the old monk fades into the ether of the spiritual world. Winter comes, the lake is frozen, the monastery deserted and we see the grown man (Ki-duk Kim himself) walking across the ice to return to the monastery of his childhood and youth. Slowly he plays out acts of contrition, carrying the returned Buddha to a mountaintop while encumbered by a self-imposed restraining stone dragging behind him. Returning to the monastery he begins his won life of teaching. Spring returns and the monk has a ward with whom to share the secrets of living. There is no way to 'give-away' the ending as there is no ending. Kim's view is that life is a cycle, and unbroken circle that may have diversions and branches but always comes round again if the spirit is receptive. The musical score (it sounds coarse to call it that) is atmospheric and moody and exactly right. The acting is uniformly superb, each actor creating indelible impressions not likely to leave the mind's eye. The setting on the lake is simple, breathtakingly beautiful, and magnificently photographed as it moves from season to season. With very few props (the monastery and the boat and the gates that open into the World Beyond) the message of the film is left in the sensitive faces of the characters as inspired by Kim. A must see for everyone.

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
More Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter..... reviews
review by . September 22, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Everything about Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring is incredibly simple, so simple that it is borderline boring. The film about a young monk who is the understudy of a wise old monk. He starts out as just a boy but grows up with the seasons. They live on and take care of a floating monastery on a lake in the middle of a forest.     The young monk must experience life by himself for many years. As a young teen he is introduced to a young girl who's mother brought her to the …
review by . October 13, 2006
The movie is very slow and very deliberate. The team of cinematographer, Dong-hyeon Baek, and director, Ki-duk Kim, use stunning imagery to tell their version of the circle of life.     The strength of the movie lies in its ability to tell a tale with imagery instead of dialog. If you're one to get antsy in a Kubrick film due to his long drawn out shots, you likely will hate this movie. However, if you have patience and appreciate a director who doesn't seem to think the movie …
review by . July 12, 2005
In an age of computer enhanced, if not entirely generated, special effects, high adventure, action upon action scenes, what an enjoyable respite it is to view this Korean film of aesthetic simplicity.     Korean director Kim Ki-Duk has created a film centered around the seasons of a man's life beautifully framed against the seasons of nature. An elder Buddhist monk raises a younger monk with a quiet and unobtrusive wisdom. The scene is set in a small floating monastery where …
review by . October 18, 2004
When I saw the preview for this, I knew I had to rent it. During those first few glances I felt like maybe this movie could be a contender with Vertical Ray of the Sun for one of my all-time favorite movies, visually, cinematographically. Well, it turns out that's not the case, but it's still a good movie. In fact I don't put this near the level of Vertical Ray in any way, from performances to music to "the look" of it, etc...    As for the meat of the movie itself and the characters, …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie


Working miracles with only a single set and a handful of characters, Korean director Kim Ki-Duk creates a wise little gem of a movie. As the title suggests, the action takes place in five distinct episodes, but sometimes many years separate the seasons. The setting is a floating monastery in a pristine mountain lake, where an elderly monk teaches a boy the lessons of life--although when the boy grows to manhood, he inevitably must learn a few hard lessons for himself. By the time the story reaches its final sections, you realize you have witnessed the arc of existence--not one person's life, but everyone's. It's as enchanting as a Buddhist fable, but it's not precious; Kim (maker of the notoriousThe Isle) consistently surprises you with a sex scene or an explosion of black comedy; he also vividly acts in the Winter segment, when the lake around the monastery eerily freezes.--Robert Horton
view wiki


Director: Ki-duk Kim
Genre: Foreign
Screen Writer: Ki-duk Kim
DVD Release Date: September 7, 2004
Runtime: 103 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
© 2015, LLC All Rights Reserved - Relevant reviews by real people.
ASIANatomy is part of the Network - Get this on your site
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since