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Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring

4.4 out of 5 stars 211 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A tiny Buddhist monastery floats on a raft amidst a breathtaking landscape, tended to by a solitaryMonk. Into this serene setting comes a young child, who will become the Old Monk's protege... and so begins a lifelong journey of hope, despair, passion and redemption in a film hailed as "A triumphof sheer cinematic craft," (Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald). From the brash actions of youth, through the dawn of adolescence and the fullness of adulthood, one man's life lessons are learned as seasons pass, his emotional inner life changing as the landscape around him. Award-winning Korean writer/director/editor Kim Ki-duk has crafted a lushly exotic, yet universal story about the human spirit and its evolution, from Innocence to Love, Evil to Enlightenment, and ultimately to Rebirth that Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News calls "A beautifully composed canvas, the sort of film one falls into, resurfacing at the end with great reluctance."


Working miracles with only a single set and a handful of characters, Korean director Kim Ki-Duk creates a wise little gem of a movie. As the title suggests, the action takes place in five distinct episodes, but sometimes many years separate the seasons. The setting is a floating monastery in a pristine mountain lake, where an elderly monk teaches a boy the lessons of life--although when the boy grows to manhood, he inevitably must learn a few hard lessons for himself. By the time the story reaches its final sections, you realize you have witnessed the arc of existence--not one person's life, but everyone's. It's as enchanting as a Buddhist fable, but it's not precious; Kim (maker of the notorious The Isle) consistently surprises you with a sex scene or an explosion of black comedy; he also vividly acts in the Winter segment, when the lake around the monastery eerily freezes. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Yeong-su Oh, Jong-ho Kim, Jae-kyeong Seo
  • Directors: Ki-duk Kim
  • Producers: Lee Seung-jae
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Korean (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 7, 2004
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002J4X20
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,047 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring ushers the audience into silent solitude through meticulously planned cinematography that maximizes the effect of the natural environment. The environment is essential to the story as it takes place in an idyllic valley that is untouched by the continually modernizing civilization. In the middle of the valley is a small lake in which a small floating monastery drifts by the forces of the nature. This has an allegorical meaning as it supports the notion that everything is part of a greater plan in which individuals can make small ripples that will affect the individual throughout life.

Each frame is carefully planned as color, form, and movement come together into a meaningful expression of either spiritual, moral, existential meaning, or a personal meaning which rests behind the eye of the beholder. The film becomes a sequential succession of spiritual or existential paintings that are rapidly exchanged before the viewers' retina. The mise-en-scene is exceptionally significant as Ki-duk Kim has left nothing to chance, yet everything is based on chance. This visual oxymoron is very much like the chaotic expression which nature expresses itself within each season.

The story is split into the four seasons as it begins and ends with spring as the title suggests. The beginning takes place in the spring as an old monk cares for a young boy who discovers the consequence of guilt the hard way as he torments a fish, a frog, and a snake. The shots have symbolic meaning, yet the many frames offer much room for personal interpretation as the boy deals with everyday life under the supervision of the monk.

Summer opens the door to love, affection, and desire as the young boy has become a young man.
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Format: DVD
In an age of computer enhanced, if not entirely generated, special effects, high adventure, action upon action scenes, what an enjoyable respite it is to view this Korean film of aesthetic simplicity.

Korean director Kim Ki-Duk has created a film centered around the seasons of a man's life beautifully framed against the seasons of nature. An elder Buddhist monk raises a younger monk with a quiet and unobtrusive wisdom. The scene is set in a small floating monastery where the two live alone but for one animal companion, the choice of animal changing with each season, adding layers of intriguing symbolic meaning. Surrounding the floating monastery is a lake set among mountains.

Beginning in the spring of the boy's life, when he is a child learning about the world around him and within him, the wise older man watches the naive young boy engage in lessons proffered by nature. He lets the boy learn on his own, watching from a distance, and only steps in when it is time to do so. In perhaps the film's most profound statement, he watches as the boy, chuckling to himself, ties string around a fish he catches in the lake, and attaches it to a stone. The child takes joy in the struggling of the fish when he releases it back into the water, where the fish is unable to swim freely. The boy repeats this with a frog, with a snake, gleefully tormenting his fellow creatures. From the woods above the shore of the water, the elder monk watches. He is a silent observer, allowing the boy to engage in his mischief. It is only at night, when the boy sleeps, that the monk ties a rock to the boy's back, precisely as the boy did with the tiny creatures.
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Format: DVD
This is a truly great work of art that is also a medium for the Buddha's teachings.

Zen is a school of Buddhism that traditionally does not rely on words or letters and is based on the "mind to mind" transmission of the master's teaching to the student.

Many excellent reviews have covered the wonderful story line and the cinematic qualities of the film. I would like to make a few comments on the Buddhist and Zen teaching elements of the film.

1. The setting -- Buddha was enlightened under a tree and the natural world serves as the context for many Buddhist teachings. The great Japanese Zen Master, Dogen, wrote essays on the lives of mountains and rivers and non-sentient beings.

2. Cycles -- The seasonal cycle in the film is symbolic of the cycle of life with an old man, a child, youth, young lovers, parents, and old man again. Only if we live, as Dogen said, in Being/Time can we transcend these cycles.

3. Karma -- The child, because of his choice or his propensity kills a fish and more... Every decision and mysterious propensity leads to consequences.

4. The Island temple and the raft -- The small temple is on a drifting island connected to the shore by a raft indicating the impermanence even of the Master's abode and the refuge. A question from Zen point of view is -- Where is Buddha?

5. The Master -- He teaches with few words -- typical of Zen tradition -- teaches by example. (Actually... Zen masters are blabbermouths who did anything to teach their students that they thought would work. Existence is the ultimate blaberbody).

6. The Gateless Gate -- One of the two great Zen Koan (cases studies for contemplation) collection is called in English "The Gateless Gate".
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