Tuesday 9 December 2008

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring [2003]

Often considered to be the finest work till date of Korean enfant terrible Kim Ki-Duk, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring is an intensely philosophical work of art. This dream like fable is set at a small Buddhist monastery located at somewhere in an unbelievably serene landscape of remarkable natural beauty. The movie follows the life of a character through the various seasons of nature as well as life – from childhood through adulthood to old age, and covering a plethora of experiences including joy, sorrow, lust, jealousy, rage, tranquility and bliss. In essence, it has captured the cyclical journey of life, and ironically a vicious one at that. The movie is lyrical in content, comprises of very few spoken words (a common link for all the Kim Ki-Duk films that I've seen), and is embalming for those with a philosophical bend of mind; however, scratch the surface a little, and you’ll notice a very palpable and disturbing statement on the inherent violence in human nature. The acting is good, managing to capture the various nuances of the story. Interestingly, the director cast himself in one of the seasons (winter), and did a fine job at it.

Director: Kim Ki-Duk
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea


Anonymous said...

"landscape of remarkable natural beauty" - exactly, i didn't even know such places were possible...

sitenoise said...

I don't like leaving negative comments, and even with the number of 'conclusions' that you and I may disagree on, I don't think I've ever had much of an issue with anything you say in your reviews. But ... "The acting is good" ?? I agree, that aside from the acting, it's a beautiful film, but it's also a monstrously banal tale. I was extremely disappointed in this film, thought it was pedestrianly dumb ... and annoyingly acted.

Shubhajit said...

That absolutely allright. Cinephiles are suppoesed to disagree, isn't it?

But then, I didn't expect that this is one of those movies that brings out reactions in the extremes, either way. The treatment, for me, was refreshingly original, and the basic spirit of the movie, though nothing new, was though-provoking. I felt the movie didn't just show the director's audacity but also his ability to show exactly what he perhaps intended to show.

Well, those are my opinion. And though I'm I bit surprised with your strong negative reaction about the movie, I will take your views in my stride nonetheless. One of those movies after all, I guess.

1minutefilmreview said...

We're elated that you found 'Spring, Summer' to your liking. To us, the feeling we had when we first encountered this film was akin to when we watched Kubrick's '2001'. It had the same enigmatic quality. The same gamble that both Kim and Kubrick took which could go either way. And indeed, it had. Many hated '2001' and 'Spring, Summer'. Still, there are others who would clamor to voice out their undivided adoration.

What these two films are not, however you look at it, is banal. Movies like 'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' or the 'Harry Potter' franchise deserve the banal banner so much more.

Come on Sitenoise, you have to admit that was a bit too harsh. 'Spring, Summer' had drama, scenery, dissection of our purpose in life...we agree that the acting wasn't at all Oscar worthy but this isn't that kind of film. It didn't need great thespians. It was a director's movie through and through. There weren't any phenomenal acting in '2001' either...All that said and done, we have all the respect in the world for true cinephiles who have strong opinions and tastes. Better that than conversing with those who get their hard-ons watching the latest Steven Segal or Tim Allen flick, not knowing what is good or bad cinema.

So yeah, what you (Shubhajit) said is spot-on. It IS more fun to disagree sometimes. Bring it on!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks 1minute for yours views. You'd told that this is your favourite Kim Ki-Duk movie, so I was really waiting to hear from you though I knew beforehand that your views would be diametrically opposite to what sitenoise expressed.

As I mentioned in my previous comment, I didn't at all expect this to be one of those movies that elicit reactions in the extreme. I liked the movie but didn't really wouldn't count it as one of my all time favourites. But of course having read your comments as well as those by sitenoise, i'd perhaps downplayed the movie's force. I believe any movie that manages to get strong reactions both ways from cinephiles must have something about it vis-a-vis those which generate a more uniform form of reaction.

1minute, I completely agree with you that there's absolutely nothing banal or been-there-seen-that stuff about this movie. Even though the theme is universal and oft-stated, the treatment as well the narrations are extremely original. Debates about its artistic merit aside, there's no denying that this is one-of-a-kind movie. Its of course another matter though that I more inclined towards those whose call this a good film.

sitenoise said...

The title of the movie summarizes the plot ... in full. Boy grows into a man and learns the lessons of life.

so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.

I regret giving anyone the impression that I think this is somehow beneath Steven Seagull. What it really comes down to, as I've worked through Kim's work, is that this just really disappointed me. And I wanted to hurt it. ;)

Maybe I should watch it again. :)

Jani Laaksonen said...

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring is definitely the best film Kim Ki-Duk has made, and considering how impressive most his films are, that's saying a lot. The beautiful lake, the way the movie ends with a new beginning, it's stunning cinematography... One of my all time favorite films.

Shubhajit said...

This is my Kim Ki-Duk film too. I too found it an overwhelmingly beautiful film - both in terms of its stunning cinematography and in terms of its emotional impact.