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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful... Simply beautiful.
I can't stress just how wonderfully picturesque this film is. The amazing visuals of nature draw you in, and you can't help but feel consumed by their draw-dropping beauty. This hit me immediately, and it only gets better. On a floating buddhist temple resides a monk, and his young apprentice. It floats on a lake, surrounded by forests. We watch through the...
Published on 15 Feb 2006 by L. Dolan

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Spirtual Perversion
Yes, it's artistic, surreal, it's beautiful, stunning location - whether it's real or not. Hence it earns two stars for the design production. However, I did say I'll not watch Korean films again, because so far I haven't seen one Korean film without violence and sexual exploitation of women in the story or the actors. It is purely the reflection of the inequality of...
Published 2 months ago by Jac Knight


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful... Simply beautiful., 15 Feb 2006
By 
L. Dolan "LD" (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I can't stress just how wonderfully picturesque this film is. The amazing visuals of nature draw you in, and you can't help but feel consumed by their draw-dropping beauty. This hit me immediately, and it only gets better. On a floating buddhist temple resides a monk, and his young apprentice. It floats on a lake, surrounded by forests. We watch through the seasons how the young apprentice changes, as the scenery does the same.
It uses each season as a leap in years, and shows the significant events in his life. The film relies on its visuals rather than tons of dialogue. Not to sound corny here, but sometimes it's the things that aren't said that make the most impact. The poignant beauty of it all will leave a lasting impression, I guarantee. Don't confuse this with being a pretty film with no substance. This is deeper than most films out there, and you feel like you've come away with something. Let's put it this way: I've referred to it as beautiful four times, unintentionally too. That's got to be saying something. I could easily sum it up in just that one word!
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spring again, 11 Jan 2006
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Sometimes less is more -- and sometimes less is everything. Kim Ki-Duk works magic with only a few props in the ethereal, exquisite "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring," a movie that transcends its own simplicity. Beautiful, well-acted and quietly poetic, this Korean film is a movie to remember.
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. Director Kim Ki-duk (who has a starring role) gives an almost unearthly feel to the beautiful landscape, the dramatic scene on the snowy mountains, and especially to the beautiful little two-person monastery in the middle of a lake. The sight of it is almost unreal.
Oh Young-su does an excellent job with the old monk, who has the wisdom the younger man sorely lacks. His past is a mystery; the problems his disciple encounters make you wonder what caused him to stay in seclusion. Kim himself plays the mature younger man, giving a startlingly nuanced performance as the character tries to atone for his sins, and takes the place where he is most needed.
With a single set and only a few actors, Kim Ki-Duk crafts a meditative masterpiece in "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... And Spring." Quiet, heartbreaking, beautiful and deceptively simple, this film is a must-see.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply beautiful, 12 Feb 2007
By 
S. Mulley "namaste" (sussex uk) - See all my reviews
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This film is a breath of fresh Korean air. Shot almost entirely in a floating temple on a lake and its surrounding picture postcard scenery this is not just wonderful cinamatography but a profoundly touching story of the sadness and beauty of solitude. The karma and learning from mistakes. Gentle, harsh, unusual. Very little dialogue, no need for more...

I wanted to buy a couple of copies of this dvd to send friends but was disappointed to find them only on the u.s . format which many people here don't have.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow but very mesmerizing.......,, 3 July 2007
By 
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 masses suffer from ADD, you'll appreciate the time the director gives you to reflect on the beauty of the story's natural settings.

The actors perform well. The door that opens at the beginning of each one of the five seasons could be interpreted as a gate, linking the two worlds: our world and their world. To go-in and go-out in the idyllic space where the hermitage floats every people must go through this gate. In fact the film is a very simple allegory about the cyclic evolving life. The beginning and the final of the film encloses a cycle. Kim takes the characters in a more mature direction than many of the other tales, and does it with a better eye than most. The hut in which the central characters reside is located in the middle of a woody mountain lake. The lake and the surrounding woods play as important characters as the actors. The changes in the lake and the land through the seasons reflect the changes within the boy monk.

If you have the patience to meditate on the wondrous imagery of Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, check it out. If you like foreign films but can't stand reading the subtitles, check it out (not a lot of dialog in this one).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creating a Masterwork, 17 Sep 2009
By 
Raymond J. Nyland "Styxx" (Armidale, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
In a floating pavilion in the middle of an isolated lake in modern day Korea lives an old Buddhist monk (Oh Yeong-su) and his young student. In the spring sequence, the novice torments a fish, a frog and a snake by weighing them down with stones. The master responds by tying a large stone to the novice, and instructing him to find the animals and release them, or else "he will carry a stone in his heart for the rest of his life". The novice frees the frog, but the fish and snake have died. In the summer sequence, over 10 years later, a mother and a sick girl (Ha Yeo-jin) come to the pavilion. The novice, now a young man (Kim Young-min), is tormented by lust until finally the girl responds. Afterwards she leaves, followed by the novice. In the autumn sequence, again set about 10 years later, the ex-novice returns to the lake closely followed by two detectives. He has apparently murdered his wife, but before he is arrested, in a scene involving a cat and Buddhist sutras, the master sets the ex-novice on a path of peace and self realisation. In the winter sequence, the ex-novice returns to the frozen lake. He is visited by a mysterious woman with a baby and when she is killed on the lake, the baby remains. In a beautifully shot and scored sequence, the monk pays a final penance for his crimes, carrying an image of the Buddha and pulling a millstone to the top of an adjoining ridge. This recollection of the stone image from the first sequence of the film seeming completes, in winter, the cycle began in spring. But in a final sequence, it is again spring and the ex-novice has now become the master and has the child as a novice, so the cycle continues.

The DVD includes a Korean DTS track, plus Dolby Digital Korean 5.1 & 2.0. This is a film of little dialogue, and no action, the surrounds supporting the score and occasional sounds, such as wind or rain. The music supports the moods of the film beautifully - it is especially slow and haunting in the summer and winter sections, using a combination of choral, orchestral and Asian percussion and wind instruments. In the winter section, which runs for over 19 minutes, there is absolutely no dialogue. The music builds the mood throughout the sequence and finally supports the penance of the monk with a melody evoking longing and loss.

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter . . . and Spring is presented in an enhanced widescreen print in a ratio of 1.85:1. This is a very clear and clean print and the colours are spectacular yet totally natural. Remember the lake in "Hero" which was so incredibly blue as to appear surreal (which was the point of course). In Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter . . . and Spring the surreal quality is not created by artificial colour enhancement but by the natural beauty and natural colours of the setting. In this film the lake is not blue but natural shades of green, which reflect the surrounding forests and hills. In winter, when the lake freezes over, it is not a pristine white, but shades of gunmetal grey. The trees through the seasons are also natural - greens in summer, yellows and reds in autumn. These trees which surround the lake are characters in their own right and are often shot in the foreground, framing the pavilion or activity on the lake.

Extra features are variable. The Behind the Scenes is 17 minutes of raw footage with music, but no interviews. The Director Interview is 3 minutes of Kim Ki-duk answering questions on set; it has very poor sound but is subtitled; the Premier Footage (9 minutes) is the premier press conference. There is also a trailer and a synopsis that consists of scrolling text (in Korean with subtitles) that lasts just under 1 minute.

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter . . . and Spring is a hauntingly beautiful, spiritually intelligent and very satisfying film. As writer as well as director, not to mention the actor who plays the novice as adult, Kim Ki-duk brings an economy and clear vision to the film. Although Kim Ki-duk is better known for showing the violent and cruel side of Korean life, as in films like Seom, Bad Guy and Samaria, in Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter . . . and Spring he has crafted a film that is thoughtful, quiet, never dull and stunning to look at. A masterpiece.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seasons which Awaken Truth, 4 Jun 2008
By 
Elegantly filmed with an artistic view of idyllic mountain scenes of North Kyungsan Province in Korea where Jusan Pond was created over 200 years ago. It is an artificial pond which looks like a lake and reflects the mountains like a mirror. The scenery calms the mind and soothes the soul, the camera's eye glides gradually to a small lake hidden between mountains ... on which floats a beautifully painted and carved Buddhist temple. The misty mountains and tall peaks hide an inner beauty far from the ordinairy. An elderly monk tends to his prayers and then goes about his daily chores in meditation and silence. He is accompanied by a young boy, a student, a "monk-in-training" who likely will inherit this peaceful lifestyle. "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring" makes the viewer awesomely quiet and silent, absorbing the landscapes created by nature. The viewer is spellbound, waiting, anticipating ... what is next? A young monk, about aged 7 or so is watched closely by the Master. He engages in boyish pranks, which harm some small helpless creatures. The Master is dismayed but uses the experience to teach the young monk a lesson he will not soon forget about "compassion." It is now "Spring" ...

Time passes, and the young monk is now an awkward teenager. He tends the Buddhist temple with care and occasionally rows a boat to a gate which leads to a path ... a path to the outside world, the mountains are like a wall from ordinairy civilization. From seemingly nowhere, a mother and her ill-looking teenaged daughter arrive at the temple. The mother has sought healing from many sources but nothing has cured her daughter, she asks the Master for help, she has nowhere else to turn. The elderly monk accepts the young lady as a guest. She participates in the simple life of the temple. The teenaged monk and she eye each other warily ... and inevitably ... teenage passions are aroused which some of which are expressed and others which are repressed. The Master of the temple lends guidance in this respect.

The film continues to reveal "seasons" of life ... the young monk as an adult wrestles with certain internal desires and leaves the monastery - to join life in the outside world. Lust, desire, control, and anger lead to unexpected behaviors. The young monk returns to the temple, without explanation but among his belongings, the Master discovered a newspaper article. The young adult monk engages in painting out specific Buddhist sutras on the deck of the temple. This film symbolically reveals subtle life-altering experiences which are densely packed with meaning. There are suspense-filled moments that reveal intense emotions of shock, sadness, and revelation within the sphere of the idyllic floating Buddhist temple that is tucked between lush green, peaked and misty mountains. The impact of the lessons learned within this film are vast and deeply meaningful. This is a most highly recommended viewing experience. Erika Borsos [pepper flower]
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime, 21 Jan 2006
By 
Amazon Customer (Bournemouth UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
I cannot start commenting on the film without raving about the quality of the photography, it is a master class in framing and composition, how the cameraman achieved such perfection in the exposure of the film I simply look and marvel.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple? Not exactly. Beautiful, yes, 9 Oct 2008
By 
This review is from: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
It came as a surprise to me to see in another review here that Kim is a Catholic, because this, his most explicitly religious film, seems 100% Buddhist to me, with its lessons of the eternal cycle of birth, death and rebirth (hence the title) and of the need to control passions and achieve detachment. Kim is one of those film-makers who just goes on getting better and better. Here he goes beyond the rather facile pessimism of "The Isle" The Isle [2000]to a truly profound and humanist acceptance. It is serene, slow moving as the waters of the lake where the film is set, beautifully filmed, acted by actors who seem just to be, rather than act, and never ever uses a word of dialogue unless absolutely necessary. Particularly impressive are the "Summer" sequence, in which the despairing and suicidal young man is "cured" by the task of carving a sutra (holy text)with his murderer's knife in the boards of the floating shrine, and his pilgrimage in "Winter" to the sites of his former misdeeds, weighted down by a huge stone. The music to this scene is, far from being "weird", extraordinarily powerful and moving, and I would love to have the CD. Kim uses music very sparingly, but this is an extended sequence of 15 minutes which is intense and anguished. And the photography of ice and snow is as beautiful as anything on film. The brief second "Spring" sequence offers a wonderful "coup de cinema" that I won't reveal.

If I have any reservations, I think some sequences linger slightly too long (especially the tai-kwan-do with its repeated use of freeze-frame, and the "courtship" in Spring). And for all its beauty some of the lake photography duplicates almost frame-for-frame that of "The Isle". I still think "The Bow" The Bow [2005]is Kim's most perfect film.

But these are quibbles. Enjoy and be amazed.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 27 May 2006
By 
Paul (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
For me, a measure of good art is how much it stays with me long after the experience. This film will stay with me for ever. To call it a film, to call it a story, would be to undersell it; it is a pure message, an allegory.

The scenery is sheer beauty and characters are so natural it's as if they are not acting at all. But the real messages of the story are layered in as many ways as you care to look for them. Yet, while you swim in the depths of its meaning, you'll smile at the ineptness of youth, the benign cunning of an old man, and even a cat tail paint brush!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ssshhh - silence - hush, 2 Sep 2009
By 
J. A. Eyon "Little Raven" (Seattle - USA) - See all my reviews
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A quiet zen-like film that's one of the most radical films I've ever seen.

There's hardly any dialog! Very hardly. The bulk of the story is told visually. The dialog pops up so infrequently that it reminds me of the use of title cards in the silent films. But this isn't silent. There are ambient sounds between the spoken words.

Think of it as an attempt to capture the contemplative mind of a Buddhist monk -- as calm and serene as the small Buddhist temple built in the middle of a lake in the middle of a mountainous wilderness.

The old monk and the very young monk that occupy the temple at films outset are so formal that they use the free standing doors within their living area -- even tho they could have walked around them. Except that one time. When the younger monk decides to betray his vows.

As the title suggests, the story shift between seasons. What's more, each season involves a leap in time by about a dozen years or more. The scenes are all related, and they close into a circle, so there's a story of sorts. There's even a message of sorts.

This film isn't for everyone. If you've had no interest in a solitary, meditative life, you'll have no interest in this film.

I'm giving the movie 3 stars, plus an extra for style. While the story's message didn't move me, the movie's style did. After seeing this film, everything else now seems to have too much dialog.
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