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Somewhere in a secluded spot, surrounded by tall mountains, is a beautiful little lake, and a small Buddhist monastery floats in the middle of it. Two monks live in it -- an elderly man (Oh Young-su), and a very young boy. The boy is full of the usual hijinks and mischief, but the old monk teaches him lessons that shape him as he grows to manhood.
The young boy (Kim Young-min) learns that his childish cruelty has terrible consequences, and that if he kills anything, he will carry that "stone" with him for the rest of his life. Then, as he reaches adolescence, a young girl (Ha Yeo-jin) enters their lives -- and his heart. Filled with lust and love, the boy leaves for the outside world. But the world -- and a murder -- drives him back to where he started, to find death or redemption...
"Spring" is steeped in Buddhist teachings, but in a sense those teachings are truly universal -- all the more obvious because Kim is not a Buddhist, but a Catholic. The love of life, dangers of desire, mistakes and the danger of repeating them, and the cycles of death and birth are at the core of "Spring," and it's impossible not to be touched by those ideas being woven into a simple, straightforward plot.
The seasons parallel that of the younger monk's life, taking him from childhood to old age. It's a simple idea, but a good one.Read more ›
All this beauty is the framing for a story of the utmost simplicity, virtually without dialogue. In a tiny monastery for two in the middle of a small lake, live a Buddhist monk and one pupil, and as the seasons change the pupil and master progress through life.
The sparse dialogue means everything has to be acted out. Yeong-su Oh as the Old Monk is a wonderful mentor especially in the interaction with the boy monk played by Jae-kyeong Seo, who acts so naturally it is almost uncanny. Ki-duk Kim not only directs he also plays the pupil when he becomes an Adult Monk in Winter. The film creates a world in a microcosm in which we make contact with the meaning of life as the seasons change.
This is a film that grows in the mind for days after one has watched it. Ki-duk Kim gave us the dark side of human nature in the “Isle” and now he has followed that with a film of life enhancing simplicity. Truly sublime.