Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring – your reviews 2013!

In the midst of the Korean wilderness, a Buddhist master patiently raises a young boy to grow up in wisdom and compassion, through experience and endless exercises. Once the pupil discovers his sexual lust, he seems lost to contemplative life and follows his first love, but soon fails to adapt to the modern world, gets in jail for a crime of passion and returns to the master in search of spiritual redemption and reconciliation with karma, at a high price of physical catharsis… (IMDB)

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2 thoughts on “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring – your reviews 2013!

  1. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…… and Spring Movie review

    The film is about mainly a buddhist teacher and the boy who he teaches but it also shows other characters. The boy is very bad when he is young and is cruel to animals and sins when a girl comes. The boy is learning how to be a buddhist but when a sick girl his age comes he falls in love with her then runs away. Eventually he returns and the teacher finds out he has killed his wife and he makes him carve the buddhist sutra into wood in which the temple lies upon in the middle of a lake. The police come and let him finish his carving then they arrest him and take him away. The buddhist teacher then kills himself as he thinks he had been a bad teacher. After that we see another man come to the temple who we think is the boy from earlier in the film. A woman comes with a baby but after leaving it she tries to cross the lake but falls through the ice and dies. The man then ties a stone to himself then walks across the lake and up a mountain doing the same as the boy did to animals by tying stones to immobilise them on the way up. He then reaches the top and puts a statue of the Buddha on top of the mountain. We then see another teacher at the temple with a young boy who then begins to torment a tortoise, the film then finishes on the teacher and the boy rowing across the lake.

    The film explores many key issues and points of buddhism throughout starting off with very simple things such as snakes being present throughout the film. Suffering is another important theme of buddhism which is present throughout such as when the boy ties rocks to the fish, the frog and the snake so that they can barely move. Following this his teacher tells him off and when he goes back the snake and the fish are dead and the boy is very upset and this is the bad karma being shown. His teacher teaches him a lesson by tying a rock to the boy so he feels the pain of the animals while he is going to see if they are alive. This scene also shows attachment as the boy cries when the animals are dead because he became attached.
    When the girl comes to the temple the boy is very helpful and tries very hard to help her showing compassion and therefore skilful action but later they begin to sin by having sexual relations and the falling in love which again is attachment and not a skilful action. The teacher finds out but manages to get them to admit to it so they could learn which was a skilful action from the teacher. However the boy and girl run away which is a bad action as he rejects buddhism because he has become attached. We then find out he has killed the girl which is very bad karma and we see some foreshadowing as when they run away they take the cockerel which is the sign for delusion with them, maybe meaning that she did not truly love him and it was always going to happen.
    When he comes back as a man he is still attached but cuts of his hair as an attempt to try and get back into buddhism. Later performs another un-skilful action as he tries to kill himself, his teacher then beats him to teach him, although it seems bad he actually has good intentions. By now he realises the first noble truth- Dukkha (everything is suffering) and he calms down and carves the sutra into the wood. Him loving her was desiring which started off all the suffering because of what the 4 noble truths says: everything is suffering, suffering is caused by desiring, to avoid suffering first you must avoid desiring, to do this follow the eightfold path.
    After he has been arrested for murder the teacher kills himself as he believes he has been a bad teacher, he would think this is a skilful action as he does not want to teach others badly and get bad karma. This, along with the dying animals and the murder show impermanence and that nothing lasts forever. We see the snake going away from the burning teacher and go and rest upon his clothes which he laid upon the floor which symbolises reincarnation. The man at the end of the film takes the statue of the Buddha up the mountain and he does the same as what the boy at the beginning does with the animals by making them suffer while a song in the background says how he has left the secular world to return to the buddhist world and calls on old memories, so maybe it is the boy again and he is trying to fix all the bad things that he had done earlier in his life, I do not quite understand when he makes the animals suffer again but im sure there is something behind it.
    The end of the film we see another child tormenting a tortoise showing suffering again. The film as a whole highlights many themes but mainly impermanence,suffering and desire.
    Overall I found the film interesting but quite dull at many parts but it tells us a lot about buddhism and helps me understand it more.

  2. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring

    Film Review

    This movie is about an old monk lives in a small floating temple on an isolated lake. The wise master has also a young boy with him who learns to become a monk. And we watch them learn as the different seasons and years pass by.

    My personal opinion on this film is that it’s interesting and has the ability to allow the audience to learn and explore the culture of Buddhism. I found that parts of this film were confusing and told in the wrong way. However, in hindsight I realise the director’s view.

    Throughout the film, the audience are never told any names of the buddhist characters. There is even one woman who never reveals her face. This is because in buddhism it is believed that one of the goals of enlightenment is the extinction of the self. However, the only character’s name that are revealed are the police that arrest the monk. These men are the only non-buddhist characters in the film.

    The first buddhist reference was karma, when the young monk committed a bad action leading to bad karma. Consequently, he was made to suffer his bad actions himself. When suffering the action he placed upon the animals, the young monk found out the consequences of his action on the fish and snake. While coming to terms with the consequences of what he had done, the young monk becomes aware or Dukka (everything is suffering) and Anicca (impermanence).

    In Buddhism, the snake symbolises hatred. This is used multiple times in this film. The scene where I think this is most meaningful is where the old monk/teacher commits suicide by burning the boat. The camera uses Mise En Scène and has a clip on the snake which symbolised the bad reincarnation of the Old Monk because of his bad karma. The audience know that it is the monk that will be reincarnated as the snake because the snake is viewed slithering over the monk’s clothes.

    Parts of the Buddha’s body are also used as symbolism in the film. When the monk is asking for the Buddha’s forgiveness he carves out the Buddha’s head in ice. This symbolises the monk’s desire for wisdom. The ill women often tapped the bowl when praying. This symbolises the woman depending on other to live because the bowl represents the BUddha’s simple life when he had to depend on others to live.

    A very clear reference to Buddhism in the film is the 4 noble truths. When the young monk commits his bad acts he realises Dukka (everything is suffering). When the boy grows up he falls in love with the ill woman staying at the temple. This is when he realises Samudaya (suffering is caused by desire) and after he faces the consequences of being in love he tries to understand Nirrodha (stop desiring and you will stop suffering), This is shown when he cuts of his hair when he returns to the temple.

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