Kim Ki-duk’s Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring is the first of the transgressive director’s film to get a proper U.S. release after the controversial Seom. The gorgeous setting is more or less the same, as is the tireless mode of transport, except this time there are more spiritual returns. Somewhere in a fog-layered Asian netherworld, a wise healer teaches a young boy the ways of the Buddha. After tying rocks to a triumvirate of forest creatures, the boy is forced to carry a stone on his back and feel their burden. Every season is a new stage in the young boy’s life: “Summer” is his clumsy sexual awakening; “Fall” chronicles the residual damage of his lust; and “Winter” evokes his spiritual enlightenment. Kim is a great lover of signs (two snakes tussle in the forest, foreshadowing the psychosexual struggle between the teenage boy and the girl who comes to be healed by his master), and though he lays on the symbolism thick, there’s no mistaking the purity of his intent. Spring, Summer unravels as a kind of Buddhist parable for children. Elementary, yes, but profoundly moving. By the time the second “Summer” rolls around, the film’s circle of life has closed in on itself one too many times, but Kim’s reverence for silence and movement inspires as much awe as his locale. One especially ravishing shot positions the monk’s house-on-the-lake as the word’s axis. Just as every action in the film has its own reaction, every image evokes the oneness of the film’s characters to their natural surroundings.
- Sony Pictures Classics
- 102 min
- Kim Ki-duk
- Kim Ki-duk
- Oh Young-soo, Kim Jong-ho, Seo Jae-kyeong, Kim Young-min, Ha Yeo-jin
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