Stillness. How long can you take it? For what period can you be at the same place, doing nearly the same thing? Is seeking worldly pleasures a sin? What are the experiences? What are the bounds that we, as human beings, ought to adhere to? What is forgiveness and who grants it? What is knowledge? Who is the one imparting it? Writer-director Kim Ki-duk’s Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring drenches you in a sea of reflective questions.

An arresting mood piece, the film chronicles the life of a Buddhist Monk and his disciple with each stage segmented into seasons. Surrealist in certain crucial junctures, the film possesses the terrific quality wherein its bizarre atmosphere begins to consume you. The viewer could easily derive a fly on the wall experience from the start to the end. He/she could even be the rooster or the cat, each of which represents a thing or two in this moody and (almost) dialogue-less film.

Spring Summer Fall, Winter …. and Spring could also be a study on an average individual’s spiritual quest, attempting to break out of it and finally seeking solace in it. Presented in the backdrop of a lonely Buddhist Monastery surrounded by water and dense forest, the subtexts that the film offers could be interpreted in numerous ways. Keeping aside the ‘circle of life’ concept that the film propagates directly, the monastery’s bizarre existence in still waters could well be the disciple’s state of mind. The urge to seek other shores, to commit mistakes, and to later gather knowledge from the same, the aggression, the punishment, the homecoming and the eventual attainment of peace, the idea of hermitage – the film addresses each of these theories. Interestingly, the eeriest moments in the film are those of intense silence.

A marvelous treat that the film is visually, Kim Ki-duk makes sure to garnish his film with a definite contemplative quality. Plus, the balance that the film chooses to maintain with respect to seasons is a touch of mastery. One gets the story’s placid progression, and the characters’ individual evolutions do not jar, as does the immediate backdrop’s everlasting constancy. Furthermore, the film intrigues us enough to research a little on the culture/philosophy which forms its communication medium.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring is a modern-day classic, in every sense of the word!

ALSO READ: ‘Burning’ review – a brooding mystery that seeks answers in a maze of metaphors

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