Irish Film Institute -Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter . . . and Spring

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter . . . and Spring

Director: Kim Ki-duk

South Korea-Germany| 2003. Subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 102 mins.

Having established a reputation as the ‘angry young man’ of modern Korean cinema with films such as The Isle (in which the characters do nasty things to themselves with fishhooks) and Bad Boy (in which a young gangster humiliates a female student who rejects his advances), director Kim Ki-duk surprised everyone with this sublime meditation on the life cycle. As its title suggests, the film is divided into four sections and a coda, with each season representing a different phase in the life of a young boy who lives with a wizened old monk on a shelter floating on a beautiful lake. Covering a time span of more than a decade, the film consists of a series of strikingly composed scenes depicting the protagonist’s progress from innocence through love and evil to enlightenment and rebirth.
It’s a Buddhist fable about the tension between spiritual righteousness and physical gratification, but the film’s real achievement has to do with the way in which the director grounds the abstract ideas in a series of stunningly precise and beautiful images. Spring, Summer . . . actually has much in common with Kim’s earlier work, especially in its often forthright depiction of human passions being played out in an isolated environment.

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