Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom | 봄 여름 가을 겨울 그리고 봄 | Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring
DIRECTOR: Ki-duk Kim | WRITER: Ki-duk Kim | CAST: Yeong-su Oh, Ki-duk Kim, Young-min Kim, Jae-kyeong Seo, Yeo-jin Ha, Jong-ho Kim, Jung-young Kim, Dae-han Ji, Min Choi | South Korea
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring is as quiet and spare as you’d expect a movie about the life cycle of a Zen contemplative monk would be. It follows the life trajectory of a monk through glimpses of him at five points in his life, corresponding to the seasons of the title, from childhood as an older monk’s acolyte on a floating shrine/monastery on a lake to years later when he’s an older monk with an acolyte of his own. I wanted to like the movie more than I actually did and it definitely would have helped if the director, Kim Ki-duk, had a better eye (it’s often very pretty when it could have been beautiful or powerful or both), but I think what did it in for me ultimately is how unsubtle it is. The essence of Buddhism in this telling is compassion — and that message is repeated over and over — with the Heart Sutra and Avalokiteshvara at the very center of it all.