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

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    Directed By:

    Kim Ki-Duk

    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 the 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. The film is divided into five segments (the titular seasons), each segment depicting a stage in the life of the novice Buddhist monk and his older teacher. The segments are roughly ten to twenty years apart, and the action of each takes place during the season of its title. The story unfolds rather simply, but the implications of the characters' actions are silently commented upon by the presence of Buddhist symbols and iconography.


    • Oh Yeong-Su, as Old Monk.
    • Kim Ki-Duk, as Adult Monk.
    • Kim Young-Min, as Young Adult Monk.

    Critical Response:

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring was acclaimed by film critics, holding a 95% "Fresh" rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and an 85 out of 100 on Metacritic. Peter Rainer of New York praised the film's "tranquil beauty" and argued, "Kim exalts nature--life’s passage--without stooping to sentimentality. He sees the tooth and claw, and he sees the transcendence. Whether this is a Buddhist attribute, I cannot say, but the impression this movie leaves is profound: Here is an artist who sees things whole."

    Roger Ebert included the film in his Great Movies list in 2009, writing, "The film in its beauty and serenity becomes seductive and fascinating. [...] There is little or no dialogue, no explanations, no speeches with messages. [Ki-duk] descends upon lives that have long since taken their form. If conflict comes, his characters will in some way bring it upon themselves, or within themselves. That causes us to pay closer attention."

    In a 2016 international critics' poll conducted by BBC, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring was voted one of the 100 greatest motion pictures since 2000. In 2020, The Guardian ranked it number 5 among the classics of modern South Korean Cinema.