Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring is a 2003 South Korean film directed by Kim Ki-duk, about an old Buddhist monk who lives in a small floating temple on an isolated lake. He lives simply, maintaining the modest, yet ornate temple, keeping a few pets, and raising a small boy to be a monk like him.
The movie cycles through the seasons in the same order as the title. The seasons cover not one year, but several, each devoted to a different time in the boy's life: boyhood, teenage years, young adulthood, adulthood, and old age. With each division, the younger monk learns new life lessons, often the hard way, until he eventually finds peace in the simple life his master originally laid out for him.
Incredibly beautiful and simple, it is the type of movie that can't be well described without giving it away. Dialogue plays such a small role in the film that you would swear no one said a word through the whole thing. It is a movie that is as much about Buddhism as it is about life, faith, growth, love, jealousy, hate, cruelty, mystery, and redemption. Definitely a must see.
If you're not convinced, it's on Roger Ebert's List of Great Movies.
As the plot is rather spoiler sensitive, it is recommended you watch the film before reading the examples.
This film provides examples of:
- An Aesop: The Young Monk experiences one first hand during the first spring.
- Bowdlerize: The international release is shortened due to the depiction of animal cruelty. Though It Makes Sense in Context, it's quite sad to watch if you love animals.
- Freak Out: Young Monk has one after The Girl is sent away.
- Going Native: The Young Monk runs off to find The Girl after she returns to civilization.
- He's Back: Happens in Fall and Winter.
- Humans Are Bastards: The Old Monk firmly believes this.
- Love at First Sight: The Young Monk has never seen a girl in his life. Suddenly one his age shows up at the Temple with her mother. Needless to say, he's infatuated.
- Love Makes You Evil
- Master-Apprentice Chain: In the second spring we see that the Young Monk has become the Old, and is raising another young boy as his apprentice.
- Seasonal Baggage: Exactly as it says in the title.
- Self-Immolation: At the end of the Fall segment, the Old Monk rides out onto the lake and does to himself.
- Scenery Porn