Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review of 'Spring, Summer. Autumn, Winter...and Spring Again'.

An odd Korean film, which felt like it was heavy with symbolism and allegory that passed me by. A monk lives in a temple which is on a beautiful island in a beautiful lake. The temple is a traditional wooden building, and for some reason it reminded me of the dacha at the end of the 'Solaris', which is also on an island, but in the boiling sea of the sentient planet.

The monk is bringing up a small boy who lives with him, also wearing monk's garb. The boy roams freely but then performs various cruelties on local wildlife - he ties a stone to a fish, a frog and a bird. The monk shows him how it feels by tying a very heavy stone to the boy, who then remorsefully sets out to free the animals but finds some of them have died. In the next season a woman brings a sick girl to recuperate on the island; the boy, now grown in to a young man, has sex with the girl in various nooks on the island. He and the girl sleep in a boat on the lake, and the monk removes the bung from the boat so that it fills with water.

The young man leaves but returns as a not-so-young man on the run from the police for killing his wife; the monk takes him and hides him from the police who come looking for him. The now old monk dies, the younger man takes his place, and in the final scene a young woman brings a baby for him to look after. There is a lot of footage of scenery with a Buddhist hymn (with lyrics that don't hold up well in translation) sung by a female choir in the background.

The film is very slow, beautiful to look at but not very engaging as cinema. Not sure that this was time well spent.

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